Doctoroff prescribes cruises, not shipping, for Red Hook piers

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Daniel Doctoroff, the deputy mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding, said this week the city has no plan to maintain shipping operations on the Red Hook waterfront past 2007.

American Stevedoring Inc. (ASI), the container company that, according to company figures, provides union jobs for more than 600 New Yorkers, took a blow last year when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey failed to renew their lease for operations on Piers 5 through 11, after the city decided to use piers 11 and 12 in a bid to keep the cruise ship industry from a further exodus to New Jersey, while ceding piers 5 and 6 to the plan for Brooklyn Bridge Park.

When the lease was renewed in December, it was only through 2007 and only for piers 7, 8, 9a, 9b and 10.

Facing a diminished port, and with only one sizable loading pier left, Pier 10, ASI has said it faces extinction if the city hands that pier, too, over to the cruise ship industry.

Doctoroff said this week during a sit-down interview with The Brooklyn Papers in Bay Ridge that he expected any remaining industrial and shipping uses to move, if they survive at all.

“In fact, we are moving a lot of activity south, to Sunset Park, where we have Hugo Neu coming in there, which is a metals processing [plant], you have the AXIS group, which is the car auto processing …” he said, trailing off. “There is, I think, a real, emerging heavy-container and other shipping industry in Sunset Park.

“That’s not to say we won’t continue to have marine activities in Red Hook,” Doctoroff said, hedging the inevitable question of ASI’s operations on piers 7 through 10.

“Obviously, Piers 11 and 12 right now are designated to the cruise industry, and we expect that to exceed all projections and ultimately, I think Pier 10 will also be used for cruise ship industry,” Doctoroff said. “Which is, I think a huge addition to the Brooklyn economy.”

And the remaining piers?

“Piers 7 though 9 …” he trailed off, “Our plans still are to have some type of marine activity here. I don’t think we know exactly what it’s going to be.”

Finally, when asked directly about ASI, he said that the city Economic Development Corporation has no plans to retrofit a new location for the shipping company, as the company had hoped and several elected officials had hinted.

“The issue with ASI is that it is a major subsidy that Port Authority has been paying to ASI, basically to keep shipping stuff back and forth across the harbor,” Doctoroff said. “Howland Hook [in Staten Island] is a much better location for that kind of activity.”
Howland Hook, according to the EDC, was the recent benefactor of a $1.6 billion trade deal with a German-based cargo shipping company that had first considered the Brooklyn port — until the city turned away its business.

As first reported by The Brooklyn Papers, officials with the company, Hamburg Sud, said they inked a deal to dock in New Jersey when the city refused to sign a letter saying it was committed to maintaining a working container port in Red Hook for five more years.

When asked why the city refused such a simple and seemingly cost-effective guarantee, Doctoroff said, “There is one rule that I think we’ve discovered in our period in government, and that is that temporary uses have a tendency to become permanent. And we have very specific plans [for the Red Hook port], and we want to ensure that we preserve the right degree of flexibility to really capitalize on opportunities as they develop.”

The EDC declared that the deal was actually planned for Howland Hook, and that Hamburg Sud would only dock in New Jersey until a multi-million dollar dredging project to deepen the water surrounding the Staten Island ports could be completed. The Brooklyn ports are already deep enough to accommodate large freighters.

Hamburg Sud officials said that prior to settling on New Jersey, Brooklyn had been on their “short list” for the deal, based on the reputation of ASI’s operations. Insiders say the deal was as good as done.

“Just, we don’t think it’s an efficient use of resources,” Doctoroff said of maintaining Brooklyn’s last shipping port.

Following 9-11, Doctoroff came into the national spotlight as the man with the plan to rebuild the city’s economy under the new administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As the economy has maintained itself through tough times, and property values continue to skyrocket, Doctoroff is alternately lauded for his success in rebuilding the economy, while at other times criticized, along with Bloomberg, for treating the city as part of a personal portfolio.

In the same vein, the administration has been charged with caring more about land deals and promoting tourism than concerning themselves with preserving industry and working-wage jobs, a charge Doctoroff said “deeply offends me.”

He cited the creation of the Mayor’s Office for Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses as evidence of the commitment the administration has towards creating and preserving industrial jobs.

When asked how the cruise jobs would compare with the existing longshoreman jobs on the Brooklyn waterfront, Doctoroff said, “The tradeoff in terms of full-time jobs, equivalence between the rapidly growing cruise ship industry and ASI is not even close.”

He promised to provide specific numbers of jobs for longshoreman and ancillary service providers at a later date.

When asked if ASI faced replacement, rather than relocation, he said, “No, we have not made a final judgment as far as what to do for Pier 7 through 9.”

But asked about Pier 10 becoming a cruise port, he said, “I think that’s inevitable.”

ASI CEO Christopher Ward, who worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey before he headed the Department of Environmental Protection under Bloomberg, said the container port would cease to exist if Pier 10, their main pier for docking large shipments, was taken away.

Asked about the loss of ASI and the container port, Doctoroff repeated, “As I’ve said, I think Pier 10 will be used for cruise.”

Similar to how shipment of products through a container port with close access to suppliers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx drives prices down for the city’s consumers, The Papers asked what cruises will bring to New Yorkers.

“Because it creates jobs and lots of economic activity,” replied Doctoroff.

Asked to specify, he said, “I think that you have people coming and spending lots of money. You have millions and millions of dollars of goods being purchased to go on the ships. You have the activity of taking things on and off the ships. I think those numbers are easily quantifiab­le.”

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Reasonable discourse

kw33n ciara from carole park says:
umm i'ts cool!!!!!!!!
May 5, 2008, 9:25 pm

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