Dock cruisin’ to Red Hook

The Brooklyn Paper
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A The city wants Red Hook’s Pier 12 to host a new luxury cruise ship dock and expects to build it by next year, Economic Development Corp. officials announced this week.

With Manhattan’s Westside Passenger Terminal operating at capacity and cruise lines threatening to flee to New Jersey, the city seeks to ready three piers in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn to entice the cruise lines to stay.

Carnival Cruise Lines had been eyeing Pier 7, just south of Atlantic Avenue, for its newest liner, the Queen Mary II. Carnival’s premiere ship, the Queen Mary II, is the world’s largest cruise ship, and too big to dock at the West Side Passenger Terminal in Manhattan. But EDC officials this week told members of a Community Board 6 committee that Pier 7 would not work for large luxury liners because of a reef off of Governor’s Island.

“Pier 7 had some navigational problems so we’re now looking at Pier 12,” said Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for EDC.

The city is conducting a feasibility and traffic study for Pier 12 and expects to have the results next month. At the same time, EDC plans to release a citywide study on the cruise ship industry later this month, Patterson said.

Carnival referred calls for comment to the New York City Cruise Alliance. Gary Lewis, a spokesman for the alliance, said he had not heard the report from EDC and said the cruise lines were still in ongoing negotiations with the city.

News of the cruise line coming to Red Hook has already sparked spirited debate.

Lou Sones, a seven-year resident and president of Red Hook Groups Against Garbage Sites (GAGS), the leading environmental group in the neighborhood, thinks the cruise ship berth could be a boon.

“I think it’s a great idea. I believe the waterfront should be used for waterfront business,” said Sones, who added that hundreds of luxury liner employees would need places to eat and shop.

“I can just imagine Van Brunt Street having a shoe store and clothing store and a couple more restaurants, and that’s the type of development that should occur in Red Hook,” Sones said.

But luxury liners are just one of many new developments on the horizon for the waterfront community.

Ikea wants to build its first New York City store at the old New York Shipyards and a developer plans to convert a warehouse at 160 Imlay St. into a 153-unit luxury condominium.

Meanwhile, developer Greg O’Connell is renovating a Civil War-era warehouse at the end of Van Brunt Street that will become a Fairway supermarket, and a buyer is in contract for the dilapidated Revere Sugar Refinery site at Richards Street.
With all the new development several residents are worried about increased traffic in the area.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the EDC hired the consulting firm of Hamilton, Rabinowitz & Alschuler (HR&A) to study the best uses for Piers 6–12.

American Stevedoring, the only working container port in Brooklyn, currently leases piers 7-12 and employs hundreds of longshoremen and dockworkers.

With that lease set to expire at the end of this month, the city decided to reevaluate how to use the waterfront property. The results of that study have not been released. American Stevedoring and the city are now negotiating for a three-year extension on the lease.

Matt Yates, a spokesman for American Stevedoring declined to comment on the Pier 12 proposal except to say, “We’ll respond once we see a more detailed proposal.”

However, he added, “The introduction of cruise lines to Brooklyn, if done properly, is a great thing.”

Carolina Salguero, who runs the community forum Web site, says it is “absolutely essential” to maintain maritime use along the waterfront but questioned how wise it would be to have Pier 12 set apart for cruise ships, which would only keep the pier busy part of the year.

She is pushing the EDC to consider Pier 6, at Atlantic Avenue. That pier is expected to be turned over to Brooklyn Bridge Park — the 1.3-mile commercial and recreational development that is to built along the waterfront up to the Manhattan Bridge.

But Salguero says that at Pier 6, with ships coming in just 40 days of the year, both the berth and park could work together and raise funds to help maintain the waterfront park.”

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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