March 6, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Last week the developer in charge to redevelop the old Domino Sugar Factory reportedly threatened to back out of the project because the mayor insisted more affordable housing units be built in exchange for zoning concessions. On Wednesday, all City Planning Commission commissioners voted yea to authorize the project. Video
Commissioner Irwin Cantor said while the city itself can’t afford to build affordable housing, it enjoys the leverage of being able to sell land via air rights to private developers.
“When a developer comes in and takes a position that [it] can’t make money, the developer just doesn’t build or builds to code,” said Cantor. “But the intent here clearly is to both create housing and an additional incentive for the developer to build that housing; it is not to create a windfall.”
After the hearing, David Lambino, Director of Two Trees Management Co, the developer rebuilding the old Domino site on the Brooklyn waterfront, answered reporter’s questions.
He was asked about the type of subcontractors that’ll be hired for the work. He said a combination of union and non-union workers will be deployed.
When asked why the company couldn’t hire all union workers to redevelop the old factory site, he said the projects’ many benefits are expensive.
“This is a project that has an extraordinary amount of community benefits in it. We’ve got 30 percent affordable housing. There’s more than 5 acres of new public park space, a brand new public school and a recreational facility. With those public benefits there are costs,” said Lambino.
Outside the hearing ironworkers with the Metallic Lathers Union Local 46 called attention to the need to create good-paying jobs to decrease the city’s growing income inequality, which was a pillar of Bill de Blasio’s mayoral campaign.
John Skinner, Local 46’s President, said he’s pleased the mayor reached an agreement with Two Trees to build more affordable housing, but hopes the developer negotiates labor contracts that pay livable wages.
“When they talk about hiring two different types of contractors—union and non-union—it creates two different standards of pay and two different standards of living,” said Skinner.
Follow Marc on Twitter firstname.lastname@example.org