For six years, developer Jed Walentas dreamed of turning sugar into gold on the Williamsburg waterfront. Now, the second of reality is at hand for the previous Domino Sugar plant at 300 Kent Ave., an 1865 designated landmark that’s been reworked behind its weathered brick facade right into a one-of-a-kind workplace constructing.
The search begins this month to search out tenants for the Two Timber developer’s 460,000 square-foot workplace block — a glass-wrapped constructing throughout the constructing that’s the centerpiece of Two Timber’ $3 billion Domino website advanced of flats, shops, places of work and a preferred park.
The Refinery, because it’s referred to as, is like no different adaptive reuse within the metropolis. The arresting construction evokes a misplaced age of toil and sweat extra viscerally than do routine conversions of downtown warehouses to places of work.
After I first toured the place with Walentas in 2016, it was the spookiest void I had ever seen. The labor of previous generations appeared entombed in catacombs of pipes, girders, 30-foot-high vats and catwalks that resulted in midair.
Sugar was refined there till Domino moved to Yonkers in 2004. However the industrial-era grunge remained. As CBRE tristate CEO Mary Ann Tighe, the pinnacle of the workplace leasing crew, recalled, “Your toes caught to the ground from the sugar residue. It was black, icky and rancid.”
Right this moment, after a $250 million restoration and inside re-imagining, nothing stays of the previous besides the 15-story brick facade and the massive Domino signal. Taking the “cool issue” to a brand new degree, the workplace constructing is inserted, like a ship in a bottle, contained in the brick exterior, its glass-wall perimeter set again 15 toes from the facade.
Walentas’ imaginative and prescient for The Refinery reminded Tighe of a line from Alexander Pope: “Seek the advice of the genius of the place in all,” she mentioned, referring to structure that “should match logically into the character of its place.” (Tighe is unquestionably the one dealmaker who brings 18th-century poetry to the desk.)
“What the Walentases do is make a neighborhood extra of what it intrinsically is,” Tighe mentioned. “This constructing couldn’t exist wherever else in New York however in Williamsburg.”
Pure gentle pours via church-like arched home windows onto largely column-free flooring of 27,269 to 33,257 sq. toes with ceiling heights of as much as 14 toes. A greenscape of hanging vines, plantings and 30-feet-tall sweetgum timber is being put in between the inside glass curtain wall and the outer masonry.
Facilities will embrace a shared facilities flooring with a health heart, ground-floor retail, a three-story atrium foyer and operable home windows — virtually remarkable in a contemporary constructing. By subsequent 12 months, a 27,000 square-foot, glass-covered penthouse dome with spectacular river and skyline views will rise on the roof.
Asking rents are anticipated to vary from $55 to $85 per sq. foot. Tighe famous that the location has no industrial hire tax and there’s a tax profit for firms transferring from Manhattan.
Walentas developed The Refinery completely on spec — i.e., with out pre-signed tenants. I requested Tighe if even cutting-edge artistic tenants would possibly balk at transferring into so eerie-looking a construction fronted by a 250-feet-tall, 150-year-old smokestack. (Structure is by Apply for Structure and Urbanism and Dencityworks. James Nook Discipline Operations of Excessive Line Fame is the panorama architect. Bonetti/Kozerski is credited with inside design.)
However Tighe mentioned that such a pioneering strategy is typical of the Walentas household. Jed’s father, David Walentas, created the neighborhood now referred to as DUMBO totally on his personal.
Like his father, “Jed has absolute readability about what he desires,” Tighe mentioned. “He can do that as a result of he has no companions. His firm spends solely its personal cash.
“There’s no replicating Jed’s success if it’s successful,” Tighe mentioned. “You may’t say, ‘Let’s construct one other Refinery.’ ”