The Williamsburg waterfront has seen a dramatic shift in its landscape over the last year. The former Domino Sugar Refinery has been a landmark in the neighborhood since the 19th century and now its ruins have been transformed into an 11-acre park and playground for adults and kids alike. The park stretches along for a quarter mile of the Williamsburg waterfront, providing a drastically different scene than the rugged factory building and industrial backdrop that marked the shoreline before.
There are still many buildings in development in the area but the first major public-facing component was Domino Park, a six-acre green space that lines the waterfront. It opened up on June 10th and has been a wonderful gathering space for residents and visitors alike who want to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline. The park is purpose-built for a variety of uses and still pays homage to the site’s industrial past.
History of Domino Factory and Williamsburg
Operations at the Domino Sugar Refinery ceased in 2004 and the site has been sitting empty ever since. But the sign has been an iconic part of the Brooklyn skyline for so long that developers didn’t want to dismantle it completely. In 2012, the Two Tree developers, known for their properties in Fort Greene, Hell’s Kitchen and other parts of Williamsburg, purchased the site and brought on SHoP to rework a master plan that would keep residents happy. Many other developers had come up with plans that didn’t sit well with the locals but this version is drawing crowds from all over the city.
Two Trees’ Vision for Domino Park
The park is entirely new but it doesn’t incorporate elements of the site’s past, including Artifact Walk, an elevated catwalk that stretches over five blocks. They have kept a number of cranes that have been sitting on the site and painted them turquoise, adding a fun, amusement park look to the area. Other repurposed artifacts include the columns from the refinery building itself and the giant tanks that were used in the refining process. Taking a tour of the area, visitors will also find bits and pieces of old equipment that have been salvaged, such as tanks and old screw conveyors. The designers also thought to elevate the park above the FEMA flood plain since it’s so close to the waterfront – and they also incorporated a lot of sustainable greenery to the area.
Domino Park Playground
Mark Reigelman designed a playground in the middle of the park where kids can climb up through a a silo or stand inside a cabin, creating a cool new take on a traditional kids’ play space. There’s also a waterfront esplanade, a dog run and a taco shack by none other than Danny Meyer, one of the biggest names in foodie life in NYC.
The south end of Williamsburg has been in need of some green space so locals are happy to have the new grassy spot that caters to kids and adults alike! Plus, the MTA ferry service now makes it easy to access the waterfront as well as the new connection from Grand Street to River Street. It’s a proper Williamsburg promenade and is making South Williamsburg an even more desirable place to call home!