Today’s news:

Red Hook Ikea prepares for auto onslaught

The Brooklyn Paper

Ikea has added hundreds of parking spaces to its Red Hook store in advance of the hotly anticipated opening on Wednesday, June 18, which is expected to draw a cavalcade of shoppers that will continue for months.

The Scandinavian home-furnishings giant’s first New York City store will use the neighboring site of the former Revere Sugar refinery to handle any parking overflow from its own 1,400-car lot at least until Labor Day.

Company officials didn’t disclose how many vehicles can be packed onto the dirt lot, but it is large enough to hold several hundred.

By enlarging its car capacity, Ikea has revived concern in Red Hook that the heretofore remote corner of Brooklyn will be overrun by drivers, because mass transit is not an appealing option if you’re hauling home a futon (or boxes and boxes of Swedish meatballs).

Ikea’s own traffic consultant appeared to support that impression, revising his own projections from 14,000 visitors on a weekend day up to 17,000 — all of them traveling through the out-of-the-way neighborhood from the Brooklyn–Queens and Gowanus expressways to the Beard Street mega-store.

A staunch critic of Ikea, John McGettrick, of the Red Hook Civic Association, thinks the newer figure is still too low and said the store will generate “in your face congestion” that will harm local air quality — and the extra parking just confirms it.

Even store supporters are feeling squeamish on the eve of the opening.

“I’m getting stage fright,” said Tom Russo of the Red Hook Gowanus Chamber of Commerce, which supported the project on the grounds that it would create jobs in the hard-scrabble neighborhood. Ikea has declined to say how many people from Red Hook have been hired at the store, which is between Columbia and Richards streets.

Company officials say the additional parking was added to meet demand, but also for a calming psychological effect on potentially frazzled customers.

“The more spots you have, even if you don’t need them all, instill confidence in the customer that everything is going to run smoothly,” said Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth.

Preparations for a seamless opening are all around. “Ikea Plaza,” directly in front of the blue and yellow compound, is the new terminus for the B61 and B77 buses. There are also exit signs for Ikea near the Hamilton Avenue exit on the Gowanus Expressway.

On the waterfront property itself, work crews are finishing the public esplanade that encircles the 22-acre former shipyard. Workers were installing benches and hastening to finish the dock for the free water taxi service to Manhattan that will operate seven days a week.

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Reader Feedback

Lydia from Columbia St says:
I welcome the onslaught and let the shopping begin. I have spent my whole life in Dead Hook and now it's alive, it's alive! Those who can't deal with the city life can move back to that one cow town they came from. Red Hook is on the map and alive!
May 30, 2008, 12:10 am
PJ from Williamsburg says:

Thanks for the new park IKEA. You guys did what the City & the Parks Dept. couldn't do. I love all your cheap furniture.
May 30, 2008, 12:21 am
PR from Brooklyn says:
I love IKEA. IKEA is wonderful. 14,000 cars per weekend and everyone idling in traffic consuming 5 dollar gallons of gas for cheap disposable furniture is genius.

Question, how many pressed-wood dressers does it take to sink a water taxi?

Pretty cool. Enjoy the PR disaster, IKEA.
May 30, 2008, 3:28 am
LoLo from Bklyn Heights says:
What PR disaster? Everyone KNEW there'd be lots of traffic. Red Hook till now has been known for its housing projects on one end, and its underpopulated emptiness on the other. What better place to put a megastore? Better to drive to Red Hook than to New Jersey! Now, how about a Wal-Mart… Anyway, Ikea will finally put Red Hook on the map, provide jobs and taxes to the city. THEN, when more people start moving there (DESPITE the new traffic), we can listen to them complain about the traffic.
May 30, 2008, 8:09 am
DM from Red Hook says:
Just checked the route provided on the IKEA website for "traveling by car". From any direction, it has cars traveling down 9th st all the way to Columbia st, and then turning left on Columbia. There has been zero infrastructure improvement on any of these streets or the routes into the neighborhood that was promised in order to handle the onslaught of traffic. Beard street has been widened right in front of IKEA, presumably to better handle the truck traffic turning into the store for deliveries. 17,000 car sorties on a street that maybe used to see a few hundred per day. Awesome. Where is that traffic engineer that previously testified that this was to be a no brainer as far as routing traffic in and out of IKEA? Doubt it.
May 30, 2008, 10:09 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Maybe this store will highlight the lack of public transport options in Red Hook.

I think one of the main reasons the neighborhood has trouble developing is that it is cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by the highway, and isn't really close to any subway stops.

But a second point, are people really so crazy about shoddy Ikea furniture?
What if the shop turns out to be incredibly unpopular?
May 30, 2008, 10:48 am
tini wine bar from Red Hook says:
If you can't beat them, make them cocktails!!! Hopefully, the Ikea shoppers will feel a need to stop by the incredibly cool Red Hook businesses before returning home.

We will be crafting our own special Swedish Surprise cocktail in honor of the onslaught. Go Red Hook!!
May 30, 2008, 11:29 am
fkr from Red Hook says:
That's the thing-we don't want people moving here. We like it the way it is. No new lights have been put up along Van Brunt and there is already a speeding problem without Ikea. Donlt act like you know anything about this neighborhood and what's good for it because you don't.
May 30, 2008, 2:10 pm
shesaid from Red Hook says:
Agreeing with flkr - We don't need Ikea to save us, we have a fantastic little community as it is. I have everything I need without corporations invading.
May 30, 2008, 2:34 pm
Charles from Park Slope says:
At the very least, Ikea did the right thing by opening up the waterfront. I would go further and have the city take over the open access, and compensate Ikea for it.

Having said that, this was the wrong project in the wrong place. We need a different type of government that makes development decisions in the Boroughs with more thought and deference to the residents in the neighborhood. I wouldn't call this the worst decision or project. (Atlantic Yards is the real standard for complete lack of due process, governmental corruption and unreasonable decision-making). But I would say that bigbox stores do not serve the public interest in Brooklyn. Instead, what about aiding the small businesses in Brooklyn, which sell most of the stuff they sell in Ikea anway? Lets leave the bigbox stores online, and keep brooklyn for ourselves ...
May 30, 2008, 2:50 pm
LoLo from Bklyn Heights says:
You CAN'T keep brooklyn "for ourselves." While i'm a Brooklyn lifer, how many people in red hook today are themselves recent arrivals — what if us lifers said we didn't want them? Neighborhoods change. That's reality.
May 30, 2008, 2:53 pm
ems from Red Hook says:
It's a city's responsibility to take care of it's residents at the same time that it takes care of it's businesses. There is no sign that the city has taken care of the residents of Red Hook in preparation for Ikea's opening. No, Red Hook is not as densely populated as, say, Brooklyn Heights, but it's residents deserve proper planning for traffic increases that take into account the flow of traffic and the safety of it's drivers and pedestrians, just like any other neighborhood.

The B61 is already overcrowded and underserved, and could scarcely handle a sizable increase in residents, much less a dramatic increase in Ikea customers.

Van Brunt runs 14 blocks from Hamilton Avenue to Beard Street, and has 7 bus stops along the way. There are a total of 2 (count em) stop lights with cross walks. At every other stop riders must cross the two way street against speeding traffic to get home. There are numerous children who make the trip to school via this route. The existing stop lights were installed after they were needed, after a fatality, in one case, and after the cruise ships arrived in the second. Will we need another Red Hook fatality before the city looks after it's residents!?

The intersections that will be involved in Ikea traffic are already complex to navigate, particularly the intersection at Hamilton and 9th Street.

I will miss our quiet streets, and very pleasant Red Hook life. But, you can't stop progress, as they say. You can, however, plan properly for it. The city has had 3 years to make those plans and has done nothing.
May 30, 2008, 3:09 pm
Pacholo from Red Hook says:
What a magic day June 18th will be. Hopefully it will be sunshine all day. Flowers blooming with the tears of all the Red Hook newcomers.
When I'm not browsing in the big box,I will be enjoying the lunch specials and the park. Thank you IKEA. I wish you much success!
May 31, 2008, 3:50 pm
Leyla from Red Hook says:
I think this IKEA will be better for me because instead of driving to Jersey I can just walk to Beard st. Imagine the impact this will have on the environment. Then I'm going to get me a virtual polar bear. Thanks IKEA by coming to Brooklyn you have made me more aware of Mother Earth.
June 1, 2008, 12:31 am
JK from Sunset Park says:
I am a recent transplant to NYC. I am amazed at all the people who complain about any development in a knee jerk fashion. How have these people come to romantacize dilapidated houses, rundown neighborhoods, street hookers, and drug dealers? Times Square, Atlantic Yards, and Red Hook development all get so much resistance. I remember visiting Times Square in 1984 and all the squalor; nothing but pornography, prostitutes, and drug dealers. Yet I'm always reading comments from idiots complaining about the Disneyfication of Times Square. They actually prefer the cesspool that Times Square had been? The area around Atlantic Yards is a rundown dump. What's so wonderful about preserving that? If the streets cannot handle the traffic for the new Ikea, that is the city's fault. They are neglecting Red Hook neighborhood as they apparently always have.
June 1, 2008, 12:45 am
PJ from Willliamsburg says:
JK you are right on the money! What are these people complaining about? Tijuana 2008 is Times Square in 1973. Thank you Disney, Thank you IKEA and Bruce bring the Nets to Brooklyn. You build it and they will come.
June 1, 2008, 8:21 pm
Charlie from Boston says:
Sounds like the IKEA needs some cargo bike sharing, like the ones in Denmark!

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2008/06/ikea-idea-with-velorbis-bikes.html
June 4, 2008, 10:12 am
nick from sunset park says:
i bet respiratory illnesses/diseases go up exponentially in red hook because of the increased auto traffic and resulting pollution.
June 4, 2008, 1:28 pm
Kenneth from Mill Basin says:
I like this. Now I dont have to drive to LI or NJ to go to an Ikea.

---I also like how much amenities people are getting just for the store...its great. Were getting shuttles, bus stops, free water taxi rides...this is awesome...
June 7, 2008, 1:05 pm
uggs from http://www.uggs118.com says:
UGGs boots are such a popular boots over the Eurasia, and is now blowing a fashion wind in the world. The originality, credibility and super-luxurious comfort will make you crazy. As the weather gets colder and colder, there are many UGGs boots on sale for people. It is the best shoes for the cold winters.
Dec. 10, 2010, 3:39 am

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