Jed Walentas, Principal of Two Trees Management – a developer based in Brooklyn – has had his Domino Sugar project mired in red tape and the public approval process for over a decade.
If completed, the project would add 2.3 million square feet of residential space, more than 500,000 square feet of office space and more than 70,000 square feet of retail. It would also create a new public park on the Brooklyn waterfront. SHoP Architects is the firm that designed the complex.
Given his experience, Mr. Walentas is pessimistic that New York City’s housing inventory crisis can be resolved any time soon. He said, “If it takes a decade to bring 3,000 units to market, there is little chance that supply can feed an expanding population hungry for housing.”
He cites several problems; chief among them, abysmal relations between government and industry. “(New York) is a city of about 8.5 million people,” he explained recently. “Assume there are 2.5 people per household and about 3 million households. If you expect that number to grow at any reasonable percentage – pick 3 percent a year – the city would have to generate 100,000 new households a year.”
He feels that just won’t happen. Rent controls are eliminating units from the supply side and any concessions made to developers wouldn’t help the rental or affordable housing sectors in the short run because landlords likely wouldn’t pass the benefits along to their tenants.
The developer would like to see a complete overhaul of the city’s housing regulatory scheme. He believes that government concessions such as upzonings and tax breaks could resolve the supply crisis in the long term; however, he won’t be holding his breath.
Meantime, Mr. Walentas is now in talks with Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 to obtain a zoning variance for his project and hopes to break ground on his proposed Domino Sugar waterfront complex by the end of 2014.