A plan to work on the Domino Sugar factory mega-development early on Saturday mornings has neighbors surveying how they might mute the weekend-rattling piledrivers before they make their first sound.
Williamsburg activists have collected more than 350 signatures on a petition opposing the Shabbat work, saying it will disrupt locals’ sleep and around-the-house time, and that the plan shows developer Two Trees Management has no respect for them.
“That they are planning to work on Saturdays starting at 7 am for a minimum of 10 years in a high-density residential neighborhood is outrageous,” said Mark Brinda, who is spearheading the petition effort. “It shows that they plan to directly go against the will of the community.”
Two Trees countered that the weekend construction is a must if the project — five space-age towers that are supposed to hold thousands of residential units, office space, retail stores, and a school — is going to get built in the stated 10-15-year window, and if the below-market-rate component is going to get fast-tracked as promised.
“Construction occurs on Saturday across the city, and it is always a trade-off situation — many people prefer to reduce the overall length of the construction disturbance,” said Dave Lombino, Two Trees’ head of special projects, emphasizing the planned complex’s open-to-the-public amenities. “Reducing working hours by more than 16 percent would add years to the project and of course delay its benefits, which include 700 units of affordable housing, acres of waterfront public open space and community facilities.”
Lombino also claimed that Two Trees has gotten few complaints about its demolition of various buildings on Saturdays for the past year to make way for the development.
But Brinda argues that demolition is always much quieter than construction.
“The construction phase will involve driving piles in massive 50-foot pits for years and years,” said Brinda. “We should not have to listen to that.”
Members of the neighborhood’s Community Board 1 are backing Brinda up, saying the Department of Buildings should not permit the work because Williamsburg is already lousy with cranes.
“Several times we have communicated out board’s steadfast resolution to not support DOB’s issuing weekend and after-hours work variances for construction projects within our confines. Being a community besieged with masses of construction sites, and seeking relief, we reached out to DOB and stated the community’s objection to such types of permits,” board chairwoman Dealice Fuller wrote to the department’s commissioner, Rick Chandler. “Yet, despite our openly stated objections … your agency has chosen to instead turn a blind eye to our community and issue variances anyway.”
The city said it cannot comment on how it will handle the construction applications.
Two Trees officials revealed at a public meeting last week that their workers will start construction on the first Domino building — the one on the site of the temporary Havemeyer Park on Kent Avenue — in January 2015. The company also plans to begin construction on the bulkheads and drainage systems for a planned waterfront green space at the same time, Two Trees head Jed Walentas said. Two Trees expects that the first Domino apartments will be ready to rent in the spring of 2017. A lottery for the so-called “affordable” units in that building will start in late 2016, Walentas said.