Call To Preserve Domino Sugar

From Alice Rich, (917) 612-3284, alice@waterfrontalliance.org

The Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Greenpoint & Williamsburg announced today that it has submitted over 1,500 signatures requesting that the Landmarks Preservation Commission hold hearings to designate portions of Williamsburg’s Domino Sugar refinery City landmarks.

WPA is requesting the Landmarks Commission designate the main refinery building, the Adant house and the power house as City landmarks. WPA believes that these three surviving 19th century structures are an important part of Williamsburg’s industrial history. These architecturally distinguished buildings, which make up less than a quarter of the seven-block Domino development site, should be designated as New York City landmarks and incorporated into the future development plans for the site. The main refinery is 12-stories tall, and the Adant house is four stories tall. Both buildings have had stories removed – stories that could be reinstated as part of a Landmarks-approved rehabilitation.

The 1,500+ signatures show a broad base of support for the preservation of this important part of Williamsburg’s industrial heritage. Over 90% of the supporters of designation are New York City residents, and two thirds of the supporters are Brooklyn residents. More than one in ten supporters live on Williamsburg’s Southside, where the Domino refinery is located. Almost a third of the supporters live in the North Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. The 1,525 names do not include the hundreds of postcards and emails that have been directly to Landmarks Chair Robert Tierney.

In submitting the petitions, WPA spokesperson Alice Rich said “the response to our petitions shows that there is very strong support within the community for a redevelopment project that includes historic preservation. WPA has tried very hard to work with the developer to put together a project that does exactly that, but to date we have not seen any plans. The Landmarks Commission has been looking at this site for well over a year, and we think it is time for the Commission to act.”

In 1852, Havemeyers & Elder opened the first sugar refinery on the Brooklyn waterfront. Within 20 years, they were joined by at least a dozen other refineries, as sugar became one of Williamsburg’s predominant industries. The original Havemeyers refinery was destroyed by fire in 1882, and in 1883 the current refinery building, power house and Adant (sugar cube) house were constructed.

The site continued to operate as a sugar refinery until 2004, when Domino closed down their Brooklyn operations. The site has since been sold to a consortium that includes CPC Resources (the for-profit arm of the Community Preservation Corporation) and Brooklyn developer Isaac Katan. To date, the new developers have not committed to any preservation on the site.

The Domino site was part of the Preservation League of New York State’s “7 to Save” endangered list of 2006. In addition to the Preservation League, the Municipal Art Society and Historic Districts Council support this designation.

Posted Under: Alert, Brooklyn, Waterfront Development, Williamsburg

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