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Thread: Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

  1. #1

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    April 4, 2003
    Leaseholders at Brooklyn Port Worry What Study May Bring

    The city has hired a consultant to study uses for approximately 100 acres of Red Hook waterfront that now serve as Brooklyn's last active port, raising the possibility that the site will become a park, a museum or luxury housing.

    In February, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the city's Economic Development Corporation hired Hamilton, Rabinowitz & Alschuler, a Manhattan consulting firm, to come up with possible uses for the site, whose 1.3 miles of shorefront property offer expansive views of Lower Manhattan and New York Harbor. The same firm developed a plan for the adjacent Brooklyn Bridge Park three years ago.

    But the port's two current leaseholders, American Stevedoring and American Warehousing, are angered by the study, saying they have worked hard to make the port a viable business that reduces traffic and provides jobs.

    Sal Catucci, the chief executive of American Stevedoring, said that since his company came in nine years ago, the port has blossomed from a failing operation into one that employs more than 500 workers and handles up to 100,000 shipping containers a year, in addition to break-bulk, or noncontainer, shipping.

    "We grew this pier from no cocoa to the largest cocoa port in the U.S.," Mr. Catucci said, adding that the port also receives coffee, lumber and other goods. "We expected to lose money the first year, but we made money."

    It is a small reversal of a 50-year trend in which most of New York City's marine cargo activity moved to New Jersey ports. Supporters of the Red Hook port say that bringing some of that activity back allows goods to go directly to destinations in Brooklyn and Queens and on Long Island, avoiding the time and expense of trucking it from New Jersey. Opponents say that the larger New Jersey ports receive goods to distribute throughout the United States, making it impractical to funnel them directly to Red Hook.

    The port, which includes Piers 6 through 12, is bounded by Red Hook, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill. Mr. Catucci said several businesses were interested in leasing space there, including a company that would store and distribute beer, bringing in 650 more jobs. The site's uncertain prospects could jeopardize such contracts, he said, adding that he was surprised when he heard about the study from a community group.

    Steve Coleman, a Port Authority spokesman, said the study should not come as a surprise to anyone because the tenants' two-year lease extension expires in 2004. And he said the study does not necessarily suggest that the port is doomed.

    "Last year, when the lease was renegotiated, we went into it with an understanding that we were going to look at possible uses," he said. "It might be maritime, it might not."

    Hamilton, Rabinowitz & Alschuler is scheduled to make its recommendations in July. On Monday night, representatives are to meet with members of Community Board 6, the Port Authority, the Economic Development Corporation and the current tenants to discuss the site.

    Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the development corporation, said the city was waiting to see the study's findings. "Things have changed with Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governors Island," she said. "We want to make sure it fits in that whole context."

    An important factor in the port's future is a barge that ferries cargo between Red Hook and Port Newark. Its use alleviates truck traffic, reducing noise and emissions on city streets. But it costs $7 million to $10 million a year; about 40 percent of that comes from the Port Authority, which does not want to continue paying for it.

    Mike Scotto, president of American Warehousing, said the barge could be used less if the Port Authority would organize shipments destined for New York City to be dropped off in Red Hook before landing in Newark.

    Mr. Scotto and Mr. Catucci said the Port Authority seemed to favor New Jersey ports over theirs.

    But Mr. Coleman said that was not the case. "We've been supporting the facilities that we operate on both sides," he said of the Port Authority, "and will continue to do so."

    Jerry Armer, chairman of Community Board 6, said it was important that the site continue its maritime use. "That doesn't mean it has to remain a container port," he said, noting that it could have other maritime-related businesses. One possibility is a cruise line; Carnival Cruises has expressed interest in using one pier as a terminal.

    But some say Brooklyn's maritime days are over. Buddy Scotto, a community leader who is not related to Mike Scotto, called Brooklyn a "third-world waterfront," and said he would like to see it become like Battery Park City or the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. "The views that we have on that waterfront are absolutely spectacular," he said. "We have developers in here right now falling all over themselves to get in there."

    That does not comfort Bette Stoltz, executive director of the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation, who said she worried that luxury waterfront housing would be too expensive for most neighborhood residents.

    She also called the elimination of maritime activity shortsighted. "We need to consider what New York is going to need in another 30 years," she said. "I mean, this is your port you're talking about. This is not a replaceable commodity."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2
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    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    I love waterfront housing and parks, but there is so much damn derelict waterfront that that is what should be developed, not something that is working and providing jobs. *FINISH QUEENS WEST, for God's sake.

    And I'm sick and tired on the PA favoring friggin' Jersey. When is NYC gonna get their sh*t together, ditch the PA, and, sh*t, ditch the rest of NYS - Pataki is another a-hole. *Greater New York state - yes!

  3. #3
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    Garden City, LI

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    Queens West should be another thread, but only the sothern most part (by Newtown creek) is in play w/ the olympics. *The rest is supposed to be planned and moving along. *The Northermost area (Pepsi-ville) is supposed to be underway by Rockrose w/ Arquitonica (sp?- Miami, Westin TS) as the architect. *I just want them to move. *Also get moving on the office space. *This is what the gov't does - over 15 yrs, 2 buildings. *Look at JC, 15 yrs, many buildings. Damnit!

  4. #4

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    Let me be clear: *You wouldn't be upset if there were no more seaports in NYC itself? *I find the idea upsetting. *

  5. #5

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    billy, infastructure must first be in place. QueensWest is in the process, development should follow soon afterwards.

  6. #6

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    Atlantic Basin and Brooklyn skyline.

  7. #7

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    July 8, 2003

    Proposals Sought for Use of Brooklyn Container Port


    Port officials asked maritime companies yesterday to submit proposals for using the last active port in Brooklyn as the city proceeds with a separate study to determine its future.

    Expressions of interest in the container port, at Piers 9 to 11 in South Brooklyn, are not binding but would let officials judge the economic viability of maritime activities there. American Stevedoring operates the piers.

    "This is for people out there to tell us are they interested in operating this terminal for maritime cargo uses and what those uses would be," said Peter J. Zantal, a general manager at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the piers. "Talk's cheap," he said, "and it's kind of getting to the point where if people really are interested, it is time to put their cards on the table."

    The request comes as the city hashes out larger questions about the waterfront's future in a study of Piers 6 through 12. The study, being conducted by Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Alschuler, is to be completed by the end of September and has raised the possibility of other uses, including housing and cultural institutions. The Port Authority is giving up Piers 1 through 5, in Brooklyn Heights, for the creation of a park, and Carnival, the cruise line company, has indicated interest in putting a passenger terminal at Pier 7, near Atlantic Avenue.

    Port Authority officials said some maritime companies had indicated that they would be interested in using Piers 9 to 11 and that they expected detailed submissions on those plans. Officials would not say which companies those were, but Mr. Zantal said proposals were expected from businesses like steamship operators and ocean carrier companies.

    Sal Catucci, chief executive of American Stevedoring, already stung by the decision to study other uses for the piers that house his business, objected to this latest solicitation. He said that when the Port Authority agreed to his most recent lease, which expires in April, officials said they would investigate a variety of possible uses for the site. "Now they've gone out to find interest in the piers," he said. "They know that they don't have any."

    Mr. Catucci said that he had transformed a failing venture into a thriving one and that he could do even more if he had the chance. Several companies were interested in leasing space, he said, but he added that the uncertainty over his future was costing him those contracts.

    Many community development advocates also say they fear officials are insufficiently committed to promoting maritime uses for the piers.

    Port Authority and city officials say they hope Mr. Catucci will be among those submitting proposals. Joshua J. Sirefman, chief operating officer of the city's Economic Development Corporation, said the responses would help officials shape a plan to encourage commercial and job growth, rather than coming up with the plan and testing it later. Officials, he said, are "working to understand the whole of maritime commerce in the context of the harbor, in the context of a changing waterfront and in the context of the neighborhoods that surround it."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  8. #8

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    Officials, he said, are "working to understand the whole of maritime commerce in the context of the harbor, in the context of a changing waterfront and in the context of the neighborhoods that surround it."

    Doesn't the lifelessly banal way bureaucrats speak give you chills sometimes?

  9. #9
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    Garden City, LI

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    Or, we would like more and more to go to NJ ports. *Thank you very much.

  10. #10

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port


  11. #11
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    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    Normally, I'm all for waterfront revitalization...but this is ridiculous. *This isn't a dilapidated, unused stretch of coastline we're talking about; it's a functional seaport with absolutely nothing wrong with it.

  12. #12

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    TLOZ, I'm with you on this. If this housing plan goes through, only the New Jersey ports of Newark and Elizabeth, and the Howland Hook port in Staten Island, will be left. the Port of Bayonne, from what I hear, is closed or in the process of closing. How much more downsizing can New York Harbor take?

  13. #13

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    Commerce has changed, ports are moving to cheaper locales but NYC still stands strong with its legacy. And in the end all the goods must still flow in though they may arrive more via air, rail and road these days.

    I'd rather have the city focused on rediscovering its waterfronts for the people than trying to keep an increasingly corrupt, polluting and paranoid industry alive and fencing off our shores.

    Been there, done that. The romantic age of the international shipping port is over, NYC enjoyed a good chunk, now it's time to take back our rivers and bays and let some other cities have the stark, ugly acres of dull pavement that make up a port in 2003.

    The romance is dead for me. There aren't anymore prostitutes waiting for the boats with whiskey bottles in hand. Our local economy has moved on and ports in NA are quite boring and restrictive these days.

    (Edited by enzo at 4:32 am on July 9, 2003)

  14. #14

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port


    With 600 miles of shoreline, there's opportunity for all four.

    This is a profitable port with room for expansion. To understand this study, go to Columbia St and Atlantic Ave. Drop dead views of Manhattan. What will happen is another Trump Place - they won't even need to provide a community park, with Brooklyn Bridge Park just to the north.

    Local residents will be forced out, at a time when the area is finally bouncing back.

    This would also conflict with the city's own initiatives:

  15. #15

    Default Uncertain Future of Brooklyn Port

    New York Daily News -
    PA is port's worst enemy

    Monday, July 21st, 2003

    In 1993, American Stevedoring leased from the Port Authority the Red Hook Container Terminal - strewn with trash and populated by stray dogs - and turned it into a successful freight enterprise employing 600 people. The company is still growing, even in this slow economy, as Carnival Cruise lines, a major beer distributor and others seek to sign contracts to dock and unload at the Brooklyn piers. All this is a boon to the borough.

    But instead of helping American Stevedoring or even just extending its lease, which expires in April, the Port Authority has hired a consultant to study new uses for the site, the last working container port in Brooklyn. The PA and the city's Economic Development Corp. also have begun a bidding process to find firms interested in taking over operation of the piers or perhaps to build housing there. Guess they've never heard the caveat, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    Not only ain't it broke, it's thriving. Besides, in the late '90s, the city and the PA conducted separate studies on the Brooklyn piers. Both concluded that the best use was a container port.

    A PA spokesman admits the agency has never tried to oust a successful tenant. In fact, three years ago, when the Maersk-Sealand shipping line threatened to leave Port Elizabeth, N.J., the agency coughed up hundreds of millions for dredging and modernization.

    Red Hook, however, is treated like the PA's red-headed stepchild. The agency complains about the $4 million annual cost of floating containers on a barge across the harbor. But that's necessary only because the PA never fulfilled its long-stalled promise to build a rail freight tunnel from New Jersey to Brooklyn. The tunnel would have ensured New York's rightful place as the East Coast's hub port. Without it, this region must compete - at a disadvantage - with Norfolk, Va., and Halifax, Nova Scotia, to try to attract ships.

    Currently, those ships must squeeze through the shallow Kill Van Kull to Jersey's ports and rail connections. The Army Corps of Engineers says it will cost $3 billion to blast through bedrock to deepen the waterways to Jersey. And even that won't be enough. The PA will have to spend hundreds of millions more to raise the Bayonne Bridge to accommodate the next generation of container ships.

    In August, the captain of the Tianjin, en route from China to Port Elizabeth, realized his ship would not fit under the span. He had to unload his cargo elsewhere. Dozens of other vessels can't fit under the bridge either. So what happens when the new supersize post-Panamax ships start arriving here? Moot question. Unless the PA can lower the ocean, they won't be arriving here.

    The PA must use every available acre of dock space in Brooklyn. New York Harbor is naturally deep and can easily accommodate the behemoths being built. Fitting under the Verrazano Bridge is not an issue. The only issue is the agency's anti-New York bias.

    Get over that bias, and this will be a hub port.

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