Domino: Still Big

Everyone is getting ready for next week’s City Council hearing on New Domino (Monday, 10 a.m., City Hall) – the last public hearing of the process, you’ll be pleased to hear. Churches United is holding rallies in East Williamsburg and handing out fliers at the L train; Steve Levin and Vito Lopez have an op-ed in the Brooklyn Paper saying why the project is wrong for the neighborhood; Susan Pollack of CPCR has an op-ed in the Brooklyn Paper saying why the project is right for the neighborhood; and opponents of the project are set to rally on City Hall steps next Monday.

So where do things stand? Well, Domino is still big. Despite the objections of Community Board 1 and Marty Markowitz, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved the project without any residential density modifications. There was a small reduction in the number of parking spaces, and 50′ was knocked off the height of the office towers next to Grand Ferry Park, but these are really marginal changes. New Domino is still substantially bigger than any waterfront rezoning approved to date – it will still result in a significant and deleterious impact to transit and other infrastructure in the neighborhood – and it will still result in a untenable reduction in per capita open space (in a neighborhood that already ranks near the bottom Citywide, we are heading in the wrong direction – fast).

Domino, for its part, continues to argue that it is special and therefore deserves special treatment. They continue to claim that “providing 660 affordable units and extraordinary public amenities comes with a significant price tag”, and continue to refuse to provide the public with any actual accounting of how those costs balance with the very significant revenue that will be derived from thousands of new market-rate units. CB1 and City Planning have rejected similar density-for-affordable-housing swaps in the past, doing so in the future will be much, much harder.

Make no mistake, Domino will permanently change the character of the Southside. No amount of affordable housing (or low-wage, service-sector jobs) will change that. When the City Council takes this up next week, they should listen to the whole community and change this project for the better. The Council should reduce the density to 2005 levels, add new open space to the neighborhood using City-owned sites to the south of Domino (which Domino should foot part of the bill for) and eliminate the shadow impacts on low-rise housing and Grand Ferry Park.