Domino Sugar. If you have ever traveled over the Williamsburg bridge, you are familiar with the towering factory on the Brooklyn waterfront. Gargantuan yellow script spells out the familiar cane sugar brand amid the industrial backdrop of smoke stacks, silos and chutes.
Domino Sugar Factory, Brooklyn waterfront. photo: Mitch Waxman
Post Civil War, New York was the biggest provider of refined sugar to the United States. And for a time, the Domino factory in Williamsburg was the largest sugar refinery in the world, employing over 4,000 workers and processing 3 million pounds of sugar a day.
Domino Sugar Factory, 2010. photo: Mai Armstrong
In 2004, after 150 years of production, the factory shut down due to a steady decline in demand for the sweet stuff. Since then, the site has been stalled between groups who want Domino Sugar Factory to be considered a national landmark, and real estate developers who want to create 2,220 housing units and 220,000 square feet of commercial retail space.
Now, Two Trees Management Group has put a $160 million offer on the table.
From NY Daily News: Two Trees made its offer to the site’s current owners, a troubled partnership between Community Preservation Company (CPC) and Katan Group.
Katan, in a statement, announced it would attempt to block the Two Trees deal and accused CPC of cutting an agreement behind their backs. “We were very surprised to learn of this purported deal,” the Katan statement said. “It’s disappointing that our supposed partner has hidden this negotiation from us. We are studying the possible deal, but one thing is obvious: CPC is undervaluing the asset yet again.”
Katan is already suing CPC for project mismanagement and its use of funds from a $125 million loan taken out on the property. The partners paid $55 million for the once-iconic factory in 2005, and Katan believes it is now worth about $200 million.
Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. photo Mitch Waxman
Two Trees is no stranger to gritty Brooklyn waterfront neighborhoods. Many developers think they would boost the neighborhood with their experience with building on the Brooklyn waterfront. Two Trees claims responsibility for turning industrial DUMBO into a mixed-use residential/commercial area. Landmark preservationists and historians don’t quite see it the same way. They would like to see the Domino site landmarked and Brooklyn’s industrial heritage preserved.
If this deal goes through, it will become the top real estate project in Williamsburg. The $160 million+ (tentative) price tag will buy the choicest East River waterfront real estate left in the city.
by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee