After an extended legal dispute, the site of the old Domino Sugar Factory is now officially in the hands of Two Trees Management Co., the development firm behind the wildly successful Wythe Hotel, not to mention the entire development of now-fancy Dumbo.
The company picked up the 11-acre property on Kent Ave for a reported $185 million, and in spite of extensive plans to “spend significant time in Williamsburg, listening to and learning from the local residents and community leaders,” before making specific decisions, not everyone is thrilled with the acquisition.
Specifically, previous buyers Community Preservation Corp. and Katan, who purchased the property in 2004, then defaulted on its debt and agreed last year to sell it to an outside buyer, aren’t happy. For them, this news means the end of a long, embittered legal battle.
“It is a sad day for the free market, with CPC handing over the Domino site for scores of millions less than its value,” said an attorney for Katan, who previously sought to block the sale on the grounds that their partners at CPC hadn’t sought a competitive asking price. $185 million is not exactly nothing, though, and a spokesperson for CPC countered, “The sale of Domino heralds a stronger, more viable CPC, strengthening our ability to focus on our core mission of providing much needed capital for affordable housing across New York City and state.”
And yes, fiscal squabbles aside, the real question here is the state of affordable housing. CPC-Katan had promised 2,200 apartments on-site, 30% of which would be allocated as affordable housing. While plans are still up in the air, Two Trees officials have already called that figure implausible, according to insiders.
For the time being, any zoning changes would require community approval, so we’re likely to hear much, much more about the deal in the coming months. Perhaps even involving arguments over, say, “hipsters” and “gentrification?” Just an educated guess.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.