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BANKS: Domino Park design is a roadmap for waterfront revitalization

The overwhelmingly successful debut of Domino Park, New York’s newest waterfront gem, is a great example of what the private sector can do to revitalize a formerly abandoned site and transform a community.

The thoughtfully designed park with a mix of recreation, education, and resilience is now on display in Williamsburg Brooklyn.

Inspired by Williamsburg’s blue-collar history and planned through unique coordination between local stakeholders and leading-edge landscape architects, Domino Park is nothing short of miraculous. It should serve as a national model of urban renewal and an example for future developments.

For more than 150 years, Williamsburg produced nearly all of America’s sugar at the Domino Sugar Refinery, which first opened in 1856.

The Domino Sugar Refinery shut its doors in 2004, creating an opportunity for the city to transform the former industrial powerhouse into a new hub of community activity – and that is exactly what Brooklyn based Two Trees Management has accomplished at the site.

The new chapter in New York’s history began this week when the first stage of that transformation opened to the public for the first time with Domino Park – a quarter mile stretch along the same waterfront that was formerly home to sugar-cane cargo ships.

The park’s Artifact Walk emphasizes historic preservation, a guiding principle of the overall Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment master plan. Thirty large-scale reclaimed sugar refining and industrial pieces are interspersed throughout the site, uncovering the story of the sugar trade in New York and the sugar refining process that occurred on the site for over a century.

Domino Park will offer Williamsburg residents and visitors a new and exciting space for recreation, leisure, and waterfront activities. The young and old alike will enjoy a beautiful riverfront esplanade, fountains, playing fields, a variety of food options, and an industrial-themed play structure for children. Most importantly, Domino Park grants new access to the waterfront, as well as panoramic views of the East River and the Manhattan skyline, to a neighborhood in desperate need of a park.

Domino Park incorporates a resilient design to protect against flooding. Designers smartly raised the platform two to seven feet above the new federal flood elevations. The landscape features a sustainable plant palette contributing to coastal resilience including a mix of nearly 175 trees.

Two Trees Management’s investment in the privately-funded public park is $50 million. They deserve our thanks for delivering on a promise to re-imagine and re-build the industrial expanse in partnership with the community.

In the coming years, new office space, retail stores, and 700 affordable apartments for lower income New Yorkers will join Domino Park. It is certain to be a work, live, play destination that will rival any other.

The new park is reachable from the East River Ferry; the L, J, and M trains; and local buses. I personally cannot wait to bring my own children there for some fun in the summer sun along with a little North Brooklyn history lesson.

New York is the greatest city in the world thanks in part to its ability to transform the rich, historic past into thriving modern community centers – and it is clear that Domino Park is just another example of that.

The Real Estate Board of New York applauds Two Trees for creating this new, public amenity and looks forward to seeing the rest of this project take shape and further transform the Brooklyn waterfront.

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