BJ’s on tap for Red Hookers

The old Revere Sugar factory in Red Hook is one step closer to becoming housing, thanks to a ruling last week.
The Brooklyn Papers / Tom Callan

Red Hook is about to get a BJ’s.

BJ’s Wholesale Club, the members-only retail chain, is close to finalizing a deal to open a big box store on the Red Hook waterfront, The Brooklyn Paper has learned.

The retailer that sells everything from pet food to flat screen televisions is on the verge of announcing plans to move into the former site of the Revere Sugar factory, next door to the recently opened Ikea on Beard Street.

Thor Equities and BJ’s were mum on their pending agreement, but Borough President Markowitz’s office said the parties are hammering out the details.

“We’re hearing they’re pretty close to finalizing a deal,” said a spokesman for the Beep.

The tentative deal would be the second partnership this year between BJ’s, one of the nation’s leading retailers, and Thor, owned by Joe Sitt. In April, Sitt scored his first BJ by securing them as an anchor tenant for a proposed shopping mall he is developing on Shore Parkway in Bensonhurst. Among his other holdings, Sitt is a major landowner in Coney Island.

A spokesman for Sitt said plans for a Red Hook deal were not yet finalized.

“Thor is committed to ensuring that whichever organization leases this property, it will fully augment the historic revitalization occurring today in Red Hook. Thor is talking to numerous potential tenants for this site, and no decision has yet been made about who we will partner with,” said company spokesman Stefan Friedman.

But an inside source told The Brooklyn Paper that the plans were well underway for BJ’s to take over the demolished sugar refinery site, which has been leased to Ikea as an overflow parking lot.

The move is hardly a surprise to development watchers. Since Ikea opened in June, experts have said that Red Hook is poised for additional big box retail development.

“Will there be more? Yes. It’s inevitable,” Landon McGaw, director of sales for Massey Knakal Realty Services, told The Brooklyn Paper in June.

That’s because there are many large, idle manufacturing plots, such as the Revere Sugar site.

More warehouse-sized retail stores like BJ’s could be tough to swallow for Red Hook residents, many of whom bitterly opposed the Ikea, though its impact has not caused the apocalypse some predicted. There’s more traffic, especially on weekends, but there have been few complaints.

Borough President Markowitz said the costs and benefits of any commercial development on the Revere Sugar site would go through a public review, because it would require a zoning change.

“Red Hook — and Brooklyn — are open for business, but while welcoming major retailers to our borough could bring economic vitality and much-needed jobs to previously underserved and underutilized areas, we must also be sure to ‘grow smart’ and preserve a neighborhood’s character,” Markowitz said in a statement in response to a Brooklyn Paper inquiry. “The [city land review] process will give the community and other stakeholders a chance to have their say on what is ultimately located at the site, and what is best for the residents of Red Hook.”

Brooklyn’s already is home to a BJ’s, which is located off the Belt Parkway at the Gateway Center near Starrett City.

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