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On Red Hook’s waterfront, time’s running out for American Stevedoring

The Brooklyn Paper
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With the clock rapidly winding down on a lease for piers 6-12, American Stevedoring, which runs its containerport out of all but one of those piers, was still negotiating with the Port Authority as this went to press.

With the lease set to expire at midnight on Friday, April 30, the two sides had not yet come to an agreement that morning.

At stake is the future of a working waterfront for Red Hook and Carroll Gardens. American Stevedoring employs about 500 people on those piers.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the city Economic Development Corporation await the results of a study the agencies commissioned on the best possible uses of the piers.

While results of that study, conducted by consultants Hamilton, Rabinovitz & Alschuler (HR&A), have not yet been released, the city has gone ahead and secured a deal with Carnival Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines to build a passenger terminal at either Pier 7, just south of Atlantic Avenue, or at Pier 12 along the Buttermilk Channel in Red Hook.

Negotiations on the piers have stalled as American Stevedoring is angling for a three-year lease. Shipping contracts generally run two-and-a-half years, and in order to secure business, company officials say they need a three-year lease.

The city is trying to limit the lease to two years to allow for the addition of more cruise ship docks, sources told The Brooklyn Papers.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes the Red Hook waterfront, but not residential areas of the neighborhood, has been working to help broker a deal for the company.

“The congressman is very involved in trying to work out a deal. We don’t want the port to close and we want the barge to continue,” said Robert Gottheim, director of the Brooklyn-Manhattan congressman’s Brooklyn office.

Nadler is also trying to secure a two-year, $8 million federal subsidy for a container barge that runs between Red Hook and New Jersey.

Matt Yates, director of operations for American Stevedoring’s Red Hook Container Terminal, said Thursday that he could not comment on the specifics of ongoing negotiations but felt “very positive that all issue would be resolved.”

The Port Authority owns Piers 7 through 12, while the city owns Pier 6 and leases it to the Port Authority.

The city is in discussions with the Port Authority to have those piers transferred to city control, according to Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the city Economic Development Corporation.

Asked what would happen if a deal was not reached, Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said, “We don’t padlock the business on Friday afternoon, but once his lease expires, he no longer has a lease to operate.”


Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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