In the late 19th century, more than 20 sugar refineries in Brooklyn produced over half of the country’s cane sugar. Several of these refineries eventually became Domino Sugar, and the world’s largest refinery was born.But with the creation of artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup, the need for natural sugar plummeted and led to the demise of the sugar cane industry. Domino closed its Williamsburg plant in 2004.
The property has been the centre of a mess of litigation and compromise since it was bought by the Community Preservation Corporation, leaving the refinery untouched, but decaying.
For now, the Domino Sugar refinery stands in Williamsburg as a sign of what used to be.
Abandoned NYC creator and photographer Will Ellis captured some eerie images of what the inside of the refinery looks like now, and shared a few with us. Check out the full photogallery on his website.
The refinery was built in 1884 after a fire destroyed the old sugarhouse. In 1887, 17 sugar refineries merged and became the Sugar Refineries Co., which would later be renamed American Sugar Refining Co./Domino Sugar.
At Domino's prime, the company employed over 5,000 workers and was capable of producing 3 million pounds of processed sugar a day.
In 2004, Domino closed. Community Preservation Corp. and designer Isaac Katan purchased the property for $58 million, including this Raw Sugar Warehouse addition.
A rezoning battle with the city led to developers adding more public amenities to the complex. Here is one of Domino's offices, located in an outbuilding on the property.
Today, the planned complex includes a public lawn, tree-lined esplanade and subsidized housing for low-income families. If construction moves forward, this packaging factory will be demolished.
This locker room was once bustling with employees. Even the water basin at the centre has stayed intact — but not for long.
The CPC turned over most of its ownership to Pacific Coast Capital Partners, in exchange for a $125 million loan CPC defaulted on. Two Trees Management Co. recently offered to buy the property for $160 million. The CPC and Katan haven't made a decision on the offer yet.
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