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Floating in place: Container terminal signs lease that will likely keep it in Hook for next decade - Brooklyn Paper

Floating in place: Container terminal signs lease that will likely keep it in Hook for next decade

Last port: The head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Wednesday that he supports a plan to sell the Red Hook Container Terminal, a waterfront shipping port roughly the size of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Opponents of the plan, which has been floated before, say it would cost the neighborhood jobs and threaten its working waterfront.
Associated Press / Bebeto Matthews

This port is anchored down — for now.

The Red Hook Container Terminal will likely keep its waterfront home for the next decade, according to the shipping facility’s head honcho, who last week signed paperwork that extends its lease on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey–owned site for five years, and offers a second extension at the end of that term.

“Thanks to the strategic vision of leadership at the Port Authority, as well as the support of local stakeholders, an agreement has been reached that will continue the terminal’s growing economic contribution to the region,” said Mike Stamatis, who runs Red Hook Container Terminal, LLC.

Fears over the port’s fate swirled after Gov. Cuomo in his January State of the State speech commanded bigwigs at the bi-state Authority to ship the maritime business — which operates on several piers from the foot of Carroll Street to Atlantic Avenue — down to Sunset Park’s South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, in order to free up the Red Hook waterfront for potential development.

Cuomo’s request renewed worries about the terminal that sprang forth roughly a year ago, after the Authority’s chief publicly revisited a long-talked-about plan to sell the piers to generate income that reps for the agency claimed it desperately needed.

Locals and pols voiced grave concerns at the possibilities of moving and closing the Red Hook Container Terminal, however, with Democratic Red Hook Rep. Jerrold Nadler telling this newspaper that the facility — which annually unloads about 60,000 containers filled with cargo that includes produce, cars, and beer — is a “key element in ensuring that our port district overall retains its position of dominance on the eastern seaboard of the United States.”

And with the lease renewal, there is no plan in the works to move the shipping operation further down New York Harbor any time soon, according to its spokesman Jordan Isenstadt, who noted the agreement gives terminal leaders the opportunity to extend their lease for another five years when it expires in 2023.

Isenstadt added that the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal would not work as a new home for the maritime business because it is not equipped to receive the massive containers the Red Hook port currently accepts, as its piers lack cranes, and the waterfront there is not deep enough to accommodate certain vessels.

The deal that will likely keep the Red Hook Container Terminal in its longtime home for the next decade is good news for its nearly 700 employees, and the dozens of businesses who rely on it each day, Nadler said.

“Needless to say, Red Hook’s container port is critical to Brooklyn’s economy and to our region’s overall shipping capacity,” he said. “It must be preserved.”

But the length of the local shipper’s lease pales in comparison to others between the Authority and similar facilities on agency-owned land. In faraway New Jersey, for instance, another shipping company’s current lease on an Authority–owned port in Newark doesn’t expire until 2050, and other firms’ leases on agency ports in Staten Island and elsewhere can run as long as 25 years, according to Isenstadt, who said that leases for a decade or half-decade are not uncommon.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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