A developer who wants to build a residential complex at the landmark Domino Sugar refinery that would include four waterfront towers ran into a buzz saw of complaints from residents at a recent community meeting.
CPC Resources Inc., whose largest planned buildings will loom 30 to 40 stories over the East River, took its proposal for the Brooklyn site to Community Board 1 at its latest ULURP Committee meeting, looking for suggestions.
But what they got was an earful of complaints that the multi-building 2,200-apartment complex would overwhelm Williamsburg.
“This is not a neighborhood feel. It’s massive,” said Janyce Stefan-Cole, a writer who moved to the area in 1984. “They can’t throw tall buildings willy-nilly.”
Residents said they feared everything from increased pollution to losing their views of Manhattan.
And while the developers promised to make 30 percent of the apartments “affordable,” community members expressed concerns about gentrification.
CPC representatives arrived at the meeting with a four-foot table model of the complex, which includes two 30-story and two 40-story towers. There is also an O-shaped complex with buildings ranging from seven to 14 stories.
CPC officials, who are seeking a zoning variance, said they wanted community input.
“We want open dialogue,” said Susan Pollock, CPC’s project manager. “We want to hear what you have to say,” added Pollock, who arrived with three architects and a lawyer.
Pollock said the plan sets aside 660 units for “afford- able housing.” A family of four could rent a one-bedroom apartment for $550 per month or a two-bedroom unit for about $1,000 per month, said Pollock. A hundred of the low-cost units will be reserved for seniors, she said.
CPC will create four acres of public open space, including a waterfront esplanade as well as a 100,000 square foot community space inside the refinery. They also promised to preserve the exterior of what was once the world’s largest sugar refinery.
“No one else along the waterfront is preserving a historical site. This is expensive,” said Pollock.
There will be 550 new permanent jobs for local residents in addition to the construction jobs that CPC will offer over the eight years needed to build what the developers are calling the New Domino, said Pollock.
But once the question-and-answer period began, the meeting turned testy, with residents slamming the development — the second largest ever proposed in Brooklyn, next to Atlantic Yards.
Some residents said they didn’t trust the developer’s affordable housing promise.
“It’s going to be an interesting fight and it’s going to get nasty because there’s so many competing parties,” said Stephanie Eisenberg, who has lived in Williamsburg since the 1950s.
CPC hopes to formally pitch its proposal in January kicking of the City’s review process, which will take up to seven months. CPC anticipates breaking ground in late 2008 or early 2009.
Pollock promised the community members, “We will be back many times before we go to the official Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.”
But during the bitter meeting, she said, “Maybe in some ways this [meeting] was a mistake.”