Is the Domino Developer Out of Money?

11/24/2010 10:40 AM |


A consultant for CPCR—the developer behind Williamsburg’s enormous, controversial Domino project—recently said in an off-the-record meeting that it appears likely the company may have to find another private investor in order to make the project move forward, a source present for the remarks confirmed in an email.

Last week, a rumor circulated suggesting that CPCR might not have the resources to continue with the Domino project—rumors that the developer denied. “There is absolutely no validity to those rumors,” Richard Edmonds, a spokesman for the Domino project, wrote in an email. “Domino is proceeding on schedule, with a groundbreaking on the upland parcel in late 2011.”

As CPCR fought for zoning changes that would allow its 2,200-unit, 11.2-acre project to move forward, many in the community worried that the developer might win approval but then sell the project to another developer. CPCR promised a generous 30 percent affordable housing component to the project—well-above the 20 percent required by law, which helped to win it the support of many local groups—but only as a non-legally binding promise of the sort a cash-strapped developer could later go back on, particularly under pressure from a new business partner.

These aren’t the only promises on which CPCR could renege. Consider the five blocks of promised waterfront-parkland that would provide access to that part of the East River in Brooklyn for the first time in roughly 100 years. That could, conceivably, be scrapped as a result of “financial strain.” Preserving the historic DOMINO sign—another CPCR promise—could be deemed too costly; retaining noted architect Rafael Vinoly’s design could prove unduly pricey and be replaced with something even more garish. (Something similar happened with Atlantic Yards when the Frank Gehry design that helped win the project approval was eventually scrapped, because of “cost concerns,” in exchange for a brutish concrete slab.)

A project once reluctantly accepted by many for the few advantages it might offer could become nothing more than 2,200 units, bringing thousands of new residents to a community whose schools, emergency services and sewage and transportation systems are not equipped to handle them—a community that would then get nothing in return.

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