There were few surprises Thursday when Community Board 6 hosted the first
official public hearing in the city’s review of a plan to open an
Ikea store on the Red Hook waterfront.
The hundreds who packed into the PAL Miccio Center on West Ninth Street
for the Landmarks and Land Use committee hearing were evenly split between
residents who fear an influx of traffic will overwhelm the neighborhood’s
narrow streets and those who believe the 346,000 square foot big box store
will bring hundreds of jobs to a neighborhood that suffers soaring unemployment
“It’s about time that Red Hook saw this kind of investments,”
said Dorothy Shields, president of the Red Hook Houses East Tenants Association.
Like many other residents of the public housing development, Shields sported
a yellow Ikea T-shirt.
The T-shirts and bottles of water bearing “Red Hook [symbol of a
heart] Ikea” stickers were being passed out at the door.
And earlier this week Mayor Michael Bloomberg broke his silence on the
Asked by The Brooklyn Papers whether he supports the Ikea plan, Bloomberg
gave it his tacit endorsement. “Some people like the Ikea store in
Brooklyn, some people don’t. But it will bring much needed jobs to
that area,” the mayor answered during a press conference at a new
employment center in Downtown Brooklyn.
“A lot of people like the idea that they will be able to shop there,
a lot of people like the idea that they will be able to get jobs there,”
Asked whether a box store was the best use for Brooklyn’s waterfront,
Bloomberg said, “There’s no perfect place to site anything.”
Ikea has promised to open up the hiring process to residents in Red Hook’s
11231 ZIP code two weeks before any other applications are collected,
although they say federal law prohibits them from promising that any percentage
of those jobs will be held for Red Hook residents.
Opponents of the plan, largely residents who live outside the housing
projects, fear traffic will destroy the neighborhood. At Thursday’s
meeting they objected to turning the area into a “suburban-style
“I’m not against Ikea, I’m just against Ikea where people
live,” said Cheryl Stewart, who moved to Coffey Street five years
Steward said the traffic would clog streets and equated Ikea’s traffic
mitigation plans to “putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.”
Brothers Ray and Earl Hall, founders of Red Hook Rise, a non-profit youth
empowerment organization, say their organization helped drive down crime
rates, which in turn attracted new residents to the area.
“We fought to bring crime down and now we’re fighting to bring
economic development,” said Earl Hall.
Hall says the Ikea proposal has only worsened growing tensions in the
While Ikea submitted plans to the city earlier this month, kicking off
a seven-month city review process, a Baltimore-based developer has his
eye on the 22-acre former New York Shipyard site.
Bill Struever, president of Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse (SBER) —
a development company known for adaptive reuse projects — has put
together a plan for a sprawling, 70-acre, retail, residential and commercial
development that would include the New York Shipyard site.
Streuver said they would also salvage a dozen buildings, some dating back
to the Civil War, that Ikea would raze to make way for the home furnishings
But Bloomberg on Wednesday dismissed the proposal saying that nobody has
come up with “any realistic alternative” to Ikea.
“There’s always competing uses and in the case of that space
nobody has for a long time come up with any realistic alternative,”
Ikea has been in contract for the site for the past two years. That deal
is contingent on Ikea gaining city land use approval.
Responding to community concerns, Ikea has also included in the project
a 6.2-acre waterfront esplanade, a public pier and a “green”
roof with solar energy panels.
Ikea plans to build 1,400 parking spaces and would run weekend ferry service
to the store from Lower Manhattan.
In order to construct the public esplanade Ikea must obtain a tidal wetlands
permit from the state. That permit application is not part of the city
review process, according to Jesse Masyr, an attorney for Ikea.
More than 70,000 square feet of additional retail and restaurant space
would also be included along the waterfront.
The CB6 committee is expected to render a recommendation at its next meeting
on May 27. The plan will likely go before Community Board 6 for a full
board vote on June 9. The application then goes to Borough President Marty
Markowitz for review, followed by the City Planning Commission and then
©2004 Community News Group