New Development Wants to Bring a Beach and Two Towers to Williamsburg Waterfront

Courtesy James Corner Field Operations; Courtesy BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

Who would have ever thought to travel to Brooklyn for some sun and sand?

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is known for galleries, hip eateries, and artsy clothing shops. The beach? Not so much. That’s precisely what one New York City developer hopes to accomplish by turning the waterfront neighborhood into a sandy retreat.

Developer Two Trees is planning to re-introduce a project next month, including building two new towers designed by the famed Bjarke Ingels and creating a beach along the East River. Called The River Ring Waterfront Master Plan, the team is looking to “transform the way New Yorkers interact with the water.”

View of the beach from River Ring
Courtesy James Corner Field Operations; Courtesy BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

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The plans suggest repurposing a former industrial site to create more housing and making a public waterfront continuous in North Brooklyn. There would be 1,050 apartments, 57,000 square feet of office space, 30,000 square feet of retail, along with the water park that would feature tidal pools, a beach, salt marsh, nature trail, hammock grove, outdoor tidal classroom, and a large YMCA space with indoor recreation. The circular waterfront development would also prevent the inland from flooding, a necessity as the community faces rising waters.

River Ring would also aid the Department of Environmental Protection’s District Water Reuse Pilot Program. That meant a water reuse system could “capture and purify wastewater from the site’s buildings and park infrastructure.” This would efficiently use the municipal water supply and reduce discharge to the sewage network.

The marsh and tidal pool at River Ring
Courtesy James Corner Field Operations; Courtesy BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

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This proposal comes again after Two Trees purchased the site in 2019 and first introduced the idea in January 2020 before the pandemic. At the time, opponents argued that the area didn’t need more high rises or investments. But the developers are trying again and want to get approval in April as a zoning change would be necessary to make the project come to life.

Two Trees are also the brains behind Domino Park, which was another major redevelopment project in Brooklyn. That one included converting the former Domino Sugar Factory into apartments and bustling waterfront.