Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Rafael Vi'oly Architects, Beyer Blinder Belle

Status: Searching for additional investors

The New Domino
Image courtesy Rafael Vi'oly Architects


With its large, bright yellow sign and front-row seat along the East River, the 155-year-old Domino Sugar plant has long served as a symbol of New York City's industrial heritage. But like so many manufacturing facilities here, the plant was shuttered, in 2004, presenting developers a sweet opportunity to acquire waterfront property in the desirable Williamsburg neighborhood. Real estate values here have skyrocketed in the past decade, and condo buildings, galleries, and restaurants are emerging at warp speed. Some luxury residential units are selling for up to $1,000 per square foot.

The New Domino
Image courtesy Rafael Vi'oly Architects

The Community Preservation Corporation Resources and the Katan Group swooped in to buy the Domino Sugar property for roughly $55 million. The developers then hired Rafael Vi'oly Architects (RVA) to transform the grubby, 11.2-acre factory complex into an attractive, mixed-use community.

RVA's master plan calls for a series of masonry-and-glass buildings of varying heights, including four waterfront towers rising between 30 and 34 stories. While most of the old structures would be razed, three landmarked ones ' the Pan House, Finishing House, and Filter House, collectively referred to as the Refinery ' would be revamped and topped with a four-story rooftop addition with setbacks (Beyer Blinder Belle, which specializes in historic architecture, was tapped to oversee the Refinery's adaptive reuse).

In total, the massive project features 373,000 square feet of retail, office, and community space and 2,200 apartments, 660 of which are labeled affordable. A four-acre park and esplanade are also envisioned for the site, along with the insertion of public streets.

The controversial $1.5 billion project has received all necessary approvals, including a green light from the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. The developers are now in search of additional investors and aim to begin construction in 2012.

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