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The Domino Effect is a feature length documentary film that explores the process of real estate development in New York City and digs deep to uncover the complex networks of banks, developers, politicians, and non-profit organizations that shape our cities.
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During the last decade, the communities of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in North Brooklyn have experienced the negative impacts of excessive luxury development and gentrification more than any other neighborhoods in New York. In the last ten years, average rents have doubled, over 10,000 industrial jobs have been lost, and more than 40% of the Latino population has been displaced. Many of the artists and workers in the creative industries who made the community a hip and popular destination in the 1990’s have also been pushed out.
Despite the widely recognized negative impacts, development continues to proceed on the same models—high rise towers that pair thousands of luxury condos with small percentages of “affordable housing” aimed at incomes far above what the average Williamsburg resident can actually afford, with the developers receiving tens of millions of dollars of public money for the service.
The Community Preservation Corporation’s “New Domino” project—the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Factory on the East River into a complex of 2,200 apartments and condos in towers up to 40 stories high—serves as the film’s case study for examining the complex politics of urban development in the 21st century.
Told through the voices of longtime residents, the film conveys the personal impact of gentrification while also shedding light on issues encountered by residents of cities all across the country. Why have decent jobs and affordable housing for the middle and working classes become increasingly scarce while gleaming towers of luxury condos, high-end retail, and offices continue to rise? What is at stake in the shaping of the 21st century city and how can we intervene to protect the neighborhoods we love?
These issues are not unique to Williamsburg; they are occurring in neighborhoods all throughout New York and many other cities. This story needs to be told now, and with your help it can!