Two Trees has restarted efforts to construct two mixed-use skyscrapers with 1,050 housing units, office space, and a three-acre beach on the site of the former Con Edison North First Street terminal in Williamsburg (h/t Brooklyn Paper). The developer recently launched the project's website, now known as the "River Ring Waterfront Master Plan," signaling their eagerness to get back on track following Covid-related delays—and that they've rethought the design.

James Corner Field Operations | Bjarke Ingels Group

While the spirit of the project remains the same, the towers have shifted notably in height since their 2019 announcement; one from 650 feet to 710 feet, and the other from 600 feet to 560 feet. The exterior treatment has also changed. The facades now appear to be a mix of glass, steel and concrete versus a combo of glass and a terracotta-colored cladding. 

Bjarke Ingels Group leads the architectural design of the two buildings while James Corner Field Operations is responsible for the landscape design.

James Corner Field Operations | Bjarke Ingels Group

James Corner Field Operations | Bjarke Ingels Group

Two Trees has also upped the number of available housing units from 1,000 to 1,050, split across the two towers. In accordance with the New York Inclusionary Housing Program, around 25 percent, or 263 units, will be made permanently affordable at 40 and 60 percent AMI. In addition to housing, the buildings will comprise office space, retail, and a new YMCA equipped with a pool.

On the waterfront, the development will transform a three-acre stretch into a sandy beach wrapped by a circular esplanade extending into the East River. There will also be tidal pools, a salt marsh, nature trails, a wetland walk, overlooks, seating and picnic areas, a boating cove on North 1st Street, an amphitheater, and 5,000 square feet reserved for community kiosks. In all, this comes to a total of roughly 6.1 acres of new public waterfront space. Additionally, breakwaters will be installed to protect at least 500 inland properties from potential flooding.

Per the River Ring website, the development will be supported by its own microgrid energy system, mitigating demand on the Con Edison system and offloading excess power to neighboring facilities and buildings. Two Trees plans to apply to be part of the Department of Environmental Protection’s District Water Reuse Pilot Program. This water reuse system will capture and purify wastewater from the site’s buildings and park infrastructure, making more efficient use of the municipal water supply and dramatically reducing discharge to the combined sewage network. 

James Corner Field Operations | Bjarke Ingels Group

According to Brooklyn Paper, Two Trees began re-engaging with local residents over the past few weeks to allow individuals to share their feedback. The response to the plan when it was first announced in 2019/2020 was trepidatious at best, with locals in support of a new park and more affordable housing but wholly alarmed by the scale of the towers and the effect so many new residents and waterfront patrons might have on local infrastructure and the economy (i.e. putting gentrification on hyperdrive).

Two Trees will be presenting updates to Brooklyn Community Board 1 at the next virtual Land Use Committee meeting in April. The developer hopes to enter and complete the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) this year to obtain all the necessary approvals to rezone the site from industrial to residential use. Two Trees shares that, "the River Ring Plan is expected to be completed within seven years. The first tower and the waterfront park will be built first, commencing shortly after the ULURP. Once the first tower and park are opened, the second tower will begin construction." 

The development is expected to generate approximately 2,000 construction jobs and more than 500 "well-paying" permanent jobs including building service workers, park employees, YMCA and community facility employees, and retail employees.

Worth a reminder: Two Tress is also behind the Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment immediately north of the River Ring site.