A plan to convert the rusting Revere Sugar refinery on the Red Hook waterfront
into luxury housing took a step forward last week, thanks to a city decision
to exempt the site from a proposed industrial-only zone.
For owner Joe Sitt, the vote by a mayoral panel to exempt the Revere site
from the city’s proposed “Industrial Business Zone” in
Red Hook, was a sweet victory. But for neighbors, it left a bitter aftertaste.
“We’ll fight residential conversion there,” said Earl Ray,
director of Red Hook Rise, a community organization. “Entertainment,
recreation, retail or manufacturing could all be good, but residential
is never going to bring jobs.”
Only one member of the panel voted against the exemption, citing the importance
of the Erie Basin Barge Port, which services tugboats, shipping vessels
and water taxis adjacent to the Revere site.
“The barge port is crucial to maintaining the city’s infrastructure,”
said Adam Freedman. “Residential shouldn’t even be on the table
for the site.”
But mayoral spokesman Ben Branham said that despite last week’s exemption,
Sitt’s plans must still undergo a lengthy public approval process
before he can realize his dream of turning the iconic waterfront refinery
into a mixed-use development with apartments, stores and a fish restaurant.
“We’re optimistic that … the Barge Port will be able to
stay in operation,” Branham said.
Sitt — a Brooklyn native who made his first fortune through the plus-size
clothing chain Ashley Stewart — bought the rusting site for $40 million
in August. It had been abandoned since 1985, when its former owner —
a business partner of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos — went