The proletarians have nothing to lose but their bike chains.
A new office complex coming to the Red Hook waterfront will finally free workers from the daily struggle of having to park and lock up their own bicycles by offering an in-house bike valet service — complete with shower facilities for sweaty riders and a maintenance workshop — which the developer’s honchos claim will convince workers to cycle to the transit-starved nabe instead of driving.
“The idea is really to make the biking experience as desirable and seamless as possible to encourage people to use that mode,” said Thor Equity’s director of development Catherine Dannenbring.
The luxury amenity helped Thor successfully persuade Community Board 6’s land-use committee to back its request to build half as much parking as it is supposed to in its planned property at the site of the former Revere Sugar refinery at Beard and Richard streets, with members voting 11–1 to approve the exemption at a meeting on Thursday night.
Thor plans on building two four-story office and retail buildings dubbed Red Hoek Point — aimed at hip tech companies and designed by the same architect behind Apple’s iconic headquarters in California — but wants the city’s approval to build 1,106 parking spaces there instead of the 2,130 required by current zoning.
The developer’s own studies found that a maximum 870 of 2,700 workers will drive to work at the far-flung location, with the rest cycling or taking a subway, bus, ferry, or Uber, the reps claimed.
The complex will have the capacity to store at least 300 bikes between the valet service and regular racks. The manned pedal-parking lot will be able to house 180 two-wheelers at any one time, and the facility will include a shower and locker rooms and double as a maintenance shop, the reps said.
“You would come in, you don’t have a lock, you drop it off,” said the developer’s attorney Ethan Goodman. “There’s an area that’s secured and attended all day, they park it similar to a car valet and keep it and when you’re done you pick it up and leave.”
Along with the bike facilities, Dannenbring said she is working on a partnership with neighboring Ikea to extend the hours of its shuttle and water taxi service so workers can use them. Drivers can also probably just park free in the Swedish furniture giant’s lot, Goodman noted.
Thor hasn’t signed any tenants to the space yet, but the reps said it is also possible there will be an in-house bus service, depending on who leases the space.
Some committee members were concerned that approving the reduction without any concrete plans for such a shuttle means the real estate tycoons could just abandon the idea altogether once they walked out of the room.
But another argued that the panel should support less parking on the site regardless, because more parking just encourages more drivers.
“To build 2,000 parking spaces would create a reverse incentive to fill those parking — if you build them you’re gonna want to fill them,” said committee member Eric McClure. “That would be a lose-lose for everyone.”
The committee members did add a recommendation to their approval that the developer offer 10 percent of the spaces in its parking lot — around 110 — free, so tight-wad motorists don’t go circling the neighborhood looking to park elsehwere.
“With no free parking offered, you’re making people who choose not to pay drive around looking around for spots,” said one panel member.
The full board will vote on the proposal next, although its decision is only advisory — a Council vote will ultimately decide whether to grant the exemption or not.