Wednesday, September 12, 2007
An Alternative Plan for the "New Domino"-August 8, 2007
When Community Preservation Corporation Resources head Michael Lappin made the plans for the "New Domino" project public, he simultaneously pleased and disappointed the community. Many Williamsburg residents appreciated the plans to install affordable housing, while others worry about upholding the historical integrity of the site. Some worry about transportation issues that will arise once the construction begins, while the developers simply see the money they can make selling the finished waterfront properties several years down the road.
One group of community members have seen a different vision of what they would like to see done with the old factory site. A group of artists and investors led by Brooklyn artist Greg Stone and gallery owner Joseph Amrhein have made public their wish to see the site converted to an art galley. Many would expect the artists of the community to make such a request, but these artists are making more than a simple plea for the arts: they are pointing to a remarkable success story across the pond in London's Tate Modern that points to immeasurable potential in the Domino site.
The Tate Modern in London is a world-renowned art gallery that stands in a converted industrial site once home to the Bankside Power Station. The London galley is the city's third-biggest tourist attraction and brings in $200million on a yearly basis. It has led to the creation of over 3,000 jobs, and the rejuvenation of the part of the city with a large ripple effect bringing in economic development in the form of restaurants and hotels in the surrounding area.
Of the many things standing in the way of the artists' vision becoming a reality, the CPC and Isaac Katan's $1.3billion plan is the biggest. The property is privately owned, and the CPC's plan to convert the plan to low-income housing has already been submitted for approval to the city council. There is, however, room for a compromise.
The building the artists see as most desirable is the same building the developers see as most unfit for residential conversion--the sugar refinery. As the building with the most character and historical significance, it is one of the buildings on the property with the highest likelihood to have its facade preserved. It would be a great way to appease multiple parties if the refinery were to be converted to an art gallery while the rest of the land on the property could be used for the high-rise buildings planned to be erected by the CPC.
The Tate Modern not only serves as a perfect example of what could be done, but what should be done with the Domino Sugar Factory site. The entire community stands to benefit from a world-class art gallery filling the vacated space and would only make the real estate more valuable to the developers. Williamsburg has one of the most burgeoning art communities in the country. Why not follow the blueprint of one of the most famous art galleries in the world to bring international notoriety to an already growing art scene?