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All at sea! Plan to bring S.S. United States to Red Hook could sink

Will it float?: Concrete tycoon John Quadrozzi Jr. wants to turn the S.S. United States as a floating office and entertainment facility on the Red Hook waterfront.
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Mayday! Mayday!

A Red Hook dock owner’s dream of bringing historic luxury passenger liner the S.S. United States to Brooklyn and turning it into a floating office and entertainment complex may be headed for Davy Jones’ Locker if he can’t find the backers to make it happen — and now other property sharks are circling.

The entrepreneur says he is treading water — investors won’t commit until the boat’s owners do, and the boat’s skippers want them on board first

“We’re in a bit of a holding pattern,” said John Quadrozzi Jr., who owns the Gowanus Bay Terminal at the end of Columbia Street. “Without that commitment it’s hard for us to put together the support and the financing that would be necessary to make the vessel work here.”

Quadrozzi has been in talks with the ship’s stewards for years, but the campaign to save and restore the craft — which is racking up bills languishing in a Philadelphia berth — became urgent in October when they sent out an S.O.S. to the world asking for money to help save the iconic vessel from the scrap heap.

The owners ultimately drummed up more than $600,000 in donations — which should keep it afloat well into next year — but the campaign also scored the attention of real-estate moguls nation-wide. Meanwhile, Quadrozzi says his backers lost enthusiasm when they heard the boat was on the brink.

Now the Red Hook concrete tycoon has to compete with other developers who not only have the estimated $50 to $200 million needed to remodel the ship, but can also back up their plans with engineers and contractors, according to a spokesman for the S.S. United States Conservancy.

One of the competitors is just a short trip across the river — a mystery Manhattan developer reportedly has the money, but has not offered up a berth, according to Quadrozzi. Conversely, he has the dock, but is still appealing to donors, developers, investors, and government agencies to carry out his vision and fund the Titanic bill.

Quadrozzi wants to refit the S.S. United States with offices, restaurants, a gym, and a school, but said he has heard the hated Manhattan rival envisions the liner as a swanky hotel. The conservancy would not disclose any details, but did confirm that there is another New York City developer in the mix.

But Brooklyn needn’t wave the white flag just yet — the conservancy said it is still interested in bringing its buoyant piece of history to Red Hook, it just needs more of a commitment to move ahead.

“In order to bring her to Brooklyn, we would also need to have some interest on the part of a developer to redevelop the ship and we are actively looking for someone who would be interested in doing that,” said spokesman Tom Basile.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Wiktor Jachyra from Hamilton N.J says:
The S.S United States was made as a cruise ship to sail with joy and wonder to new places it was what it was made for to sail as a cruise ship with people from many places it was what the ship was built for AND KNOW PEOPLE WANT TO MAKE IT A FLOATING OFFICE they should know better then that they should carry on the triditon but make it better go to new places with the people who actually care about the ship and with the people who have the mind to fix the best and fastest cruise ship in America
Nov. 27, 2015, 7:58 am
Myrtle Wyckoff from Ridgewood says:
You said it, Wiktor.
Nov. 27, 2015, 12:18 pm
Nancy from Park Slope says:
The first pun was okay. It was all down hill from there.
Nov. 27, 2015, 8:38 pm
Man from All Brooklyn says:
Inaccessible Red Hook? How about placing the ship at Coney Island or even Floyd Bennett Field?
Nov. 28, 2015, 12:53 am
Ferken Derya from Red says:
White elephant.

Floating White elephant.
Nov. 28, 2015, 9:46 am
BP's got it wrong from Red Hook says:
Relax, there's NO plan for an office complex.

The proposal is for a Maritime Center with a vessel museum, ship tours, maritime middle school, maritime collage and an Industrial Incubator for innovative start ups.

Further, the SSUS was never a "frilly-leisurely cruise ship" (floating blimps as they are today), rather it was proudly "Ocean Liner", a marvel of innovation in its day and yes the fastest ever built. It never cruised from resort place to resort place, but moved people from Point A to B as fast as possible, mostly business people!

Brooklyn today has returned to being a place of Innovation with its focus again on Maritime. There couldn't be a better use or place than this.
Nov. 28, 2015, 9:52 am
Terry from Red Hook says:
This is amazing! I've always loved and followed the SSUS. There is no better place than here in Red Hook where we have more operating and historical maritime than anywhere in the city. Just one good ship after the other, it's a natural for Red Hook.
Nov. 28, 2015, 10:07 am
Willy from Carroll Gardens says:
Everyone loves this ship. The most incredible thing ever built on the water and the most famous that never sunk.

I'd hate for it to go anywhere other than in Brooklyn. What more commitment does the conservancy want other than "we are ready, able and willing". Wake up folks, did you ever here the expression "bring it and they will come"!!!
Nov. 28, 2015, 10:33 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
So I guess the landowner's past history of using the land to the detriment of the area's health and safety, outstanding tax debt and dubious relations with the neighborhood is now gone from this story? What happened BP? And for very rich people to say they don't have the money is nonsense. They want tax abatements from the city and state so they don't have to pay for this development, which they hope to make another windfall. Wake up people. My God, how many stories can developers sell to the public for their benefit alone?
Nov. 28, 2015, 10:35 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
I'm a troll, i'm a troll, that's how i roll!
Nov. 28, 2015, 11:57 am
JAY from NYC says:
I'd rather they save the U..S.S. Olympia, the last remaining ship from the Spanish-American war, and Admiral Dewy's flag ship, and also carried the remains of the unknown soldier from WW1 back home to the U.S.
Nov. 28, 2015, 4:32 pm
Chris H from Red Hook says:
It wiuld be a shame if this doesn't work out - it's an opportunity to bring together Red Hook's industrial side and its new tourist side in a really exciting way. It seems like the United States' owners need to stop being coy or they might end up going home alone at the end of the ball.
Nov. 28, 2015, 6:46 pm
freinds of the SSUS from NY says:
The Conservancy seeks to rescue and restore the SS United States and convert the historic liner into a museum and development complex. The Conservancy is committed to protecting the ship’s historic integrity, working with development partners to activate the ship’s economic potential, and developing creative and innovative designs that enhance public access to – and appreciation of – the ship’s storied past. As the SS United States is a unique and endangered historic landmark that has captivated the imagination of millions, they are determined to do everything possible to try to save her.

As such, we think they should invest in what's been made available in Red Hook Brooklyn and stop chasing want-to-be scenarios at the risk of loosing her.
Nov. 29, 2015, 8:15 am
Billy from Park Slope says:
Sounds like the ship could sink if it doesn't come to Red Hook.

A Manhattan developer with money and no berth, what a joke.

Sounds like the bird in the hand thing_not smart

Let Brooklyn get her before the scrap heap does.
Nov. 29, 2015, 12:32 pm
Ralph from Williamsburg says:
Just because it seems too good to be true, doesn't mean it can't happen. The greatest achievements have all seemed to ambitious to happen.

Seventy percent made with government money, this ship should be preserved with government money and restored to the national treasure it is.

Brooklyn wants her so how is Uncle Sam going to make it happen?
Dec. 5, 2015, 10:35 pm
Deez nuts from What are those says:
Watch me whip watch me nae nae oh watch me watch me
Dec. 28, 2015, 9:50 pm
Alice Dj from Desert says:
Do you think your better of alone talk to me oh oh talk to me
Dec. 29, 2015, 12:30 pm

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