NEW YORK CITY—After acquiescing to Mayor de Blasio’s demand for more affordable housing at the Domino Sugar redevelopment site, Two Trees Management received a sweet reward: its building application was unanimously approved by the City Council, according to Crain’s New York Business.
“We want to encourage development with bold designs and great site plans like Domino,” newly appointed City Planning commissioner Carl Weisbrod said at Wednesday’s hearing. “We know this increases the value of development, and we also want to ensure that the public can share in the increased value through the provision of affordable housing.”
To reach that goal the city commission and mayor’s office reached a deal with Two Trees principal Jed Walentas to include 537,000 square feet of affordable housing on the site. The overall site is slated to include 2.2 million square feet of residential space, nearly 500,000 square feet of commercial space and about 110,000 square feet of retail.
Two Trees initially sought an exemption to build only 427,000 square feet of affordable housing on the site, though through an additional non-binding agreement the developer had been willing to provide a total of 500,000 square feet, Crain’s reports. The pact with the city effectively tacked 37,000 square feet on to that number, although Two Trees will be allowed to make 50,000 square feet of its affordable units available for moderate-income housing, which is slightly more lucrative to developers. The idea behind the increase was to bump up the number of affordable units to 700 as opposed to 660, and allow for Two Trees to provide a greater variety of unit sizes, including three bedrooms.
“We’re relieved, we’re also extraordinarily proud,” says David Lombino, director of special projects at Two Trees. “We’re one step closer to starting construction on this plan we’ve been working on for a year and a half.”
Weisbrod cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from the particulars of the affordable housing in order to receive zoning changes from the city going forward.
Commissioner Irwin Cantor described negotiations with Two Trees as “long, arduous and sometimes tense,” but asserts that the city has a right to negotiate for expanded or modified development rights. “If you want zoning from us, find a way to contribute to the city. We’re not asking for hard dollars, we’re asking for concrete, steel, bedrooms, living rooms (and) kitchens.”
The New York City Council now has until early May to consider the project. Squabbles over affordable housing, labor and local hiring commitments could erupt between now and then.