City eyes four piers for cruising

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Not one, but two.

That’s how many Brooklyn piers the city is now eyeing for luxury liners.

With Manhattan’s West Side passenger terminal operating at capacity, and the cruise line industry threatening to flee to New Jersey, the city is offering $250 million to ready five piers in Manhattan and Brooklyn to entice the cruise ships to stay, and is looking to build two of them at either Piers 7 and 8 or Piers 10 and 12 on the Red Hook waterfront, city officials announced this week.

Carnival Cruise Lines has expressed interest in using Pier 7, just south of Atlantic Avenue, for its Queen Mary II.

The city Economic Development Corporation launched a study in August to explore the possibility and the final recommendations of the $250 million plan will be released next month.

Speaking to a Community Board 6 committee last week, Paul Januszewski, an EDC vice president, said the city was considering renovating both piers 7 and 8. But because of their proximity to Governor’s Island, which could make it difficult for the ships — which run upwards of 1,200 feet long — to pull into Piers 7 and 8, the city is also looking into using piers 10 and 12, about a half mile to the south, he said.

But those piers are currently used by American Stevedoring, the only working container port in Brooklyn. The company employs hundreds of longshoremen and dock workers.

Matt Yates, a spokesman for American Stevedoring and member of the CB6 Waterfront Committee, asked the city to keep its cruise ship plan to Pier 7. The city was scheduled to use a navigation simulation system this week to determine the possibility of using the northern piers.

“All lines have expressed a willingness to come to come to Brooklyn,” said Januszewski, adding that the piers near Atlantic Avenue were the preferred choice because of their proximity to restaurants, stores and other amenities.

Last month, after three years of negotiations, the city offered Pier 7 to Carnival Cruise Lines as a temporary port for the Queen Mary II. But the cruise line said the temporary offer was not good enough and it wants a top-notch permanent home for its premiere luxury liner.

“The cruise ship industry brings millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to New York City,” Councilman David Yassky, chairman of the Waterfront Committee, told The Brooklyn Papers last month. Yassky says the cruise ships could mean 1,600 new jobs for Brooklyn and thousands of dollars in revenue.

American Stevedoring and the Red Hook piers have been caught in a battle for months between supporters of housing versus industrial and maritime uses for the piers.

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 the piers.

At a series of public hearings, advocates for everything from affordable housing to luxury condominiums to continued maritime use have come up to bat for their respective causes.

The final study was slated to be released in January, but Port Authority officials says they are still in discussions with the city and consultants. In the meantime, the Port Authority is in discussions with American Stevedoring to work out a new, short-term lease.

At Monday’s meeting, some CB6 members expressed concern about the cruise ship study going ahead without the final results of the piers study. Januszewski declined to comment on that.

The cruise ship industry provides more than 3,000 jobs and generates $10 million in revenue for New York City.

But a group of longshoreman who attended the March 1 meeting said they were worried that the cruise industry coming to Brooklyn would send them to the unemployment line.

“You put a cruise line in on piers 10 and 12 and we lose our jobs,” said Thomas Varano, a longshoreman and Carroll Gardens resident who has worked at American Stevedoring for the past four years.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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