Real estate developer Two Trees is working on a deal with co-owners of the Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg to purchase the building for about $160 million. Two Trees is the same gentrifying giant that made the DUMBO one of the hottest neighborhoods to live in Brooklyn.
Domino’s co-owner, Community Preservation Corporation Resources is looking to sell the problematic waterfront property so that they can zero-out about $125 million in debt. They examined about six bids for the 11-acre property before deciding to go with Two Trees.
“Two Trees understands waterfront development, is well-capitalized and is the best chance for Domino to get developed into the mixed-income, mixed-use community it was intended to be” Community Preservation Corporation Resources CEO Rafael Cestero said. “With the sale of Domino, we will be able to return to our core mission as a lender providing badly needed capital to support affordable housing development and strengthen neighborhoods throughout the city and state.”
The hope is that the finalized deal will allow the shelved project to develop 2,200 apartments to get underway, transforming the iconic factory into a residential area in Williamsburg’s Southside.
Susan Pollock, the manager of the project, has said that her company has been looking for a “reputable developer” who would agree to conform to the original project plans which were worked out after the area was re-zoned in 2010. Included in the plans for the new development are high-rise buildings up to 34 floors high; a shuttle bus to the J train; and over 600 apartments with rents below market value.
Two Trees is considered a good choice of developer. They became famous for turning DUMBO from an industrial “nowheresville” into Brooklyn’s, and maybe even all of New York’s, most expensive neighborhoods. And Two Trees has previous experience in Williamsburg. Six years ago Two Trees founder David Walentas purchased a fabric factory on Wythe Avenue for $9.5 million and since then has transformed it into a boutique hotel which just opened in May.
Observers of the real estate scene believe that if Two Trees takes over the project at the Domino Sugar factory the Southside will most likely change in a big way.
“This is a firm that is known for taking a long-term vision of the neighborhood and replacing artists and industry with condos” said researcher and documentary filmmaker Brian Paul, who has called Walentas a practitioner of “Jane Jacobs gentrification.”