Road awakening at Ikea

Ikea has meatballs, couches and … jams
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Meussig

Fewer people are driving to the one-year-old Ikea in Red Hook than the Swedish superstore expected, but big box traffic is exacerbating backups at a historically pesky intersection, a new study finds.

Before its opening last June, the Swedish furnishings giant expected that 95 percent of its shoppers would arrive in cars or taxis on weekdays and 80 percent would do so on busy weekends in a worse case scenario.

But an analysis conducted this spring and presented this week to Community Board 6 revealed that the number was far less — 71 percent of weekday visitors came by car and 64 percent on Saturdays and Sundays.

“The best news of all was that they far exceeded their initial projections of how many people would be traveling to the store by shuttle, ferry service and bus,” said Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6, who’s also an inductee into the nascent New York City Hall of Fame. “The numbers were much more in line with what the community desired.”

But Ikea has had some growing pains, too.

Since it opened, the chronic snarling of drivers at Hamilton Avenue waiting to turn left onto Court Street during rush hour and on the weekend has gotten worse.

Taken overall, however, the findings in the report, conducted for Ikea by Sam Schwartz, may dispel concern that the enormous store and its 1,400-space parking lot would be a car magnet.

Still, some Red Hookers said that the store is still having a negative impact.

“There’s been a significant increase in air pollution in the area immediately adjacent to [the store],” said John McGettrick of the Red Hook Civic Association. The sprawling park lies due east of Ikea and along one of the principal routes to the retailer.

… but traffic over the store's first year has actually been lower than expected, a new report shows.
The Brooklyn Paper / Adrian Kinloch