Domino Scoping - Proving Our Point
As reported on Curbed yesterday, the Department of City Planning has released scoping documents for the Domino Sugar Refinery redevelopment. The document is the public's first look at the proposed height, density and massing of the project, as well as the various community benefits such as preservation, affordable housing and open space. And although the plans are still very schematic, the document clearly supports WPA's position regarding the Adant House and the Power House. In both cases, these very historic structures could be incorporated into the design without compromising bulk, density or housing units (affordable or otherwise), and with only minimal impact on the proposed public open space. The plan as proposed now would leave the refinery as a relic of the past, completely unintegrated into the new development. The alternative, one which WPA has consistently advocated, is to retain more of the 19th-century refinery complex and weave these historic elements into the 21st-century residential development.
The scoping document describes the project as a series of towers, with the tallest at 40 stories (2 towers), the next tallest at 30 stories (2 more towers), and the rest between 6 and 20 stories. The scoping document does not provide exact sizes for the smaller towers, but the Kent Avenue elevation (above) makes it pretty clear that the Adant House will be demolished to make way for - get this - a six to eight story apartment building. You may remember from a previous post that the Adant House now stands at four stories. Historically, though, the Adant House was six stories along Kent Avenue with a set-back seventh story. If LPC designated the Adant House the developer would have ample precedent for expanding the current building back to its historic six stories plus penthouse. The portion of the new development that would be affected averages out to about 7 stories. So the argument that preservation of the Adant House would take away from housing units (or affordable housing units) is completely without merit.
As for the Power House, this narrow building sits partially within the footprint of the "additional open space" shown on the scoping site plan (see below). Clearly, preserving this building would have no impact on housing, affordable or otherwise. And it would have only limited impact on the provision of open space. Assuming the whole building has a footprint of 2,500 square feet (a generous assumption), the portion of the building that sits within the public open space is probably less than 1,300 square feet. Further, because the Power House and Refinery were built at the same time, it is possible that the Power House is either structurally or design-wise integral to the Refinery itself. In other words, if you demolish this small two-story structure, what's left of the Refinery behind it?
WPA continues to believe that the preservation of the Adant House and Power House makes eminent sense from a preservation point of view. We also believe that it makes sense from a public policy point of view, from an urban design point of view, and from a housing and development point of view. In short, we feel that weaving these 19th-century industrial buildings into a 21st-century residential development will make the Domino redevelopment a better project overall.