City takes ownership of Brooklyn Marine Terminal, planning modern mixed-use transformation

brooklyn marine terminal
Officials on Tuesday announced plans to “transform” the Brooklyn Marine Terminal.
Photo courtesy of Caroline Rubinstein-Willis/Mayoral Photography Office

New York City is taking control of the Brooklyn Marine Terminal, with plans to radically transform the Brooklyn waterfront. 

Mayor Eric Adams, Gov. Kathy Hochul and officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on May 14 announced plans to turn the Brooklyn Marine Terminal into a cutting-edge maritime port and dynamic mixed-use community hub — a project, they say, will usher in a new era for the area.

brooklyn marine terminal
The heavily-industrial area will be revamped with housing and modern shipping facilities. Photo courtesy of Caroline Rubinstein-Willis/Mayoral Photography Office

“For 20 years, skeptics thought this deal couldn’t get done, but our administration prioritized the ‘Harbor of the Future’ and now we have the potential to create thousands of new jobs, generate billions in economic impact, and build a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood and modern maritime port focused on getting trucks off the roads,” Adams said in a statement. “By assuming control of the Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Red Hook in our city government’s largest real estate transaction in recent memory, our administration is demonstrating that we will continue to deliver big wins for New Yorkers, day after day.”

The ambitious project is set to encompass 122 acres of prime waterfront real estate in Red Hook and the Columbia Street Waterfront District, and represents a collaborative effort between city, state and port officials, with the New York City Economic Development Corporation taking over ownership of the Brooklyn Marine Terminal from the Port Authority.

Adams on Tuesday hailed the agreement — as well as the coming expansion of the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island — as one with “limitless” potential.

“The potential for this area is limitless, and we’re excited to work with the local community, our fellow elected officials, and key stakeholders to come up with a plan for these over 120 acres that works for Red Hook, for Brooklyn, and for our entire city,” Adams said.

Central to the agreement is the city’s assumption of control over the Brooklyn Marine Terminal, Adams said, including the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. An initial $80 million investment will help stabilize and repair key infrastructure, while also focusing on moving toward more modern operations. 

“It is the right time to restructure the old 1970, 50-year-old legal arrangements that have hobbled the Brooklyn Waterfront’s development in the past, a move that will enable the City to energize new plans for the Brooklyn Waterfront,” said Port Authority president Rick Cotton, in a statement.

While the Port Authority is giving up ownership of the Brooklyn Army Terminal, it will take over the 225-acre Howland Marine Hook Terminal, which will allow it to expand the terminal, “revitalizing” the city’s supply chains and creating new jobs, Cotton said. 

hochul at brooklyn army terminal
Hochul said the impending transformation was “long-awaited.” Photo courtesy of Caroline Rubinstein-Willis/Mayoral Photography Office

“Today’s announcement marks the next great chapter for Brooklyn’s storied waterfront and is a win for the people of New York City,” Hochul said. “The transfer will allow the city, working in close partnership with the community and my administration, to begin the long-anticipated process of reimagining the Red Hook piers as a modern maritime facility that also serves community needs.”

In a bid to bolster the terminal’s shipping and storage capabilities and address critical logistical challenges, the governor also announced a $15 million commitment for the construction of a state-of-the-art cold storage facility. This investment aims to alleviate traffic congestion and pollution associated with perishable goods transportation, she said Tuesday. Adams added that revamping the port could help reduce vehicle and truck traffic associated with shipping and e-commerce — an issue particularly important to the Red Hook community, which is home to several large last-mile warehouses and many street-clogging delivery trucks. 

And to ensure collaboration, the city will convene a Brooklyn Marine Terminal Taskforce, chaired by Congress Member Dan Goldman, to spearhead an extensive engagement process. This process will seek input from local elected officials, unions, businesses, and community members to shape a shared vision for the terminal’s future.

“After decades of inertia at the Brooklyn Marine Terminal, today’s announcement finally offers us a path forward to bringing much-needed and long overdue investment in the Brooklyn waterfront,” Goldman said in a joint statement with state Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Council Member Alexa Avilés. “The disjointed ownership structure that has governed the Brooklyn Marine Terminal for the last 50 years has resulted in a status quo of attrition and an increasingly shrinking footprint for the Terminal – to the detriment of our communities and the New York Harbor.”

Gounardes and Avilés will serve as vice chairs of the task force. Both serve as representatives for the Red Hook area.

brooklyn army terminal
The Marine Terminal has been in a “status quo of attrition,” pols said. Photo courtesy of Don Pollard/Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul

“As representatives for this community and members of the Task Force, we will work tirelessly to ensure the promises that the City and EDC have made to this community are iron-clad and that there is accountability at every step of the way,” the pols said. “Today’s announcement is just the beginning of this process. The final vision and master plan for the Brooklyn Terminal must be borne out of intensive conversation with members of the community, who we, as leaders of the Task Force, will ensure are the ones ultimately deciding what the future of their community looks like.”

Adams said Tuesday he hopes to secure an additional $350 million in federal funding to further transform the Brooklyn Marine Terminal. These funds, if granted, will support the construction of a state-of-the-art marginal pier and traffic improvements, the mayor said.

The plan drew some criticism — U.S. Rep Jerry Nadler lambasted the Port Authority’s agreement to give up control of the Red Hook Container Port specifically. Shrinking the cargo facility, he said, could increase truck traffic and kill hundreds of jobs while reducing the city’s port capacity. 

“Red Hook is the only remaining container port facility on the eastern side of the Hudson River, and it is of critical importance to New York City and the entire region that this port remains open and not converted into housing or other usage,” Nadler said. “I’m disappointed that the Port Authority abandoned this deal despite having a 100-year responsibility to steward the port and ensure the success of the port of New York.”

The congressmember urged the city, state, and Port Authority to ditch the agreement and work to keep the Red Hook Container Port up and running as usual.