PIER NOT NEAR
City dragging feet on Pier 7
It seems as though most everyone on what remains of Brooklyn’s working
waterfront is on-board to welcome Brooklyn Brewery, and its exclusive
distributor, Phoenix Beverage, to Pier 7 — except the owners of the
Steve Hindy, who owns the Williamsburg-based Brooklyn Brewery, told The
Brooklyn Papers this week that while he is eager to relocate and expand
his operations and distribution center to the pier just south of Atlantic
Avenue, that plan is being delayed by the existing tenant and the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the pier.
“What I’m trying to understand is, given the position of the
Port Authority, that they’d like to see Phoenix and Brooklyn Brewery
there, why can’t we get this done? It’s kind of frustrating,”
Hindy said on Tuesday.
“All the indications we have had from the Port Authority is they
think Phoenix and Brooklyn Brewery would be great for the pier,”
After much promotion as the ideal tenant by the city’s Economic Development
Corporation, which is working with the Port Authority to redevelop the
piers from Cobble Hill to Red Hook, the popular microbrewery finds itself
caught in a riptide of dissent over the future of the piers.
The current tenants of Pier 7, American Stevedoring Inc. (ASI), a container
shipping and warehouse facility, agreed to vacate the pier to make way
for the tourist-friendly brewing company and its Long Island City-based
What ASI requested first from the Port Authority was proof, such as an
advance lease, of the commitment to bringing the brewery to the pier,
which in coming years would find itself situated between a cruise ship
terminal and Brooklyn Bridge Park, a mammoth commercial, luxury condominium
and open-space waterfront development inhabiting Piers 1-6.
In August, the Port Authority attempted to evict American Warehousing,
a partner company of ASI, from the “southern half of Pier 7,”
and in response the company filed a complaint with the Federal Maritime
Commission alleging discriminatory practices by the Port Authority, which
had concurrently been stalling on granting the longtime shipping company
a new lease on the piers.
The company, which employs 600 longshoremen, took a big hit last year
when the Port Authority failed to renew their lease for piers 5 through
11. The agency instead ceded piers 5 and 6 to Brooklyn Bridge Park, and
Pier 11 to a new cruise ship dock. The renewed lease, issued in December,
runs through 2007, but is only for piers 7, 8, 9a, 9b and 10.
In the meantime, Brooklyn Brewery has been left bobbing in the waves,
and now ASI is allied with the brewery in efforts to maintain the shipping
“American Stevedoring, elected officials, Brooklyn Brewery and Phoenix
Beverage have all offered a framework for a comprehensive resolution,
specifically providing for Phoenix Beverage-Brooklyn Brewery at Pier 7,”
said Matt Yates, ASI’s director of governmental affairs.
Yates said ASI has offered to drop its lawsuit seeking to remain on Pier
7 on the provision that the pier be seamlessly handed over to Brooklyn
Brewery and Phoenix Beverage, with something guaranteeing the deal in
He said the Port Authority sued American Warehousing, saying that, among
other things, “we need to evict them from these piers because we
need to put Phoenix on Pier 7,” Yates said. “Are we willing
to give the Port Authority the pier back, just as they took Pier 6 back?”
he asked and answered his own question, saying, “Not without an executed
lease with Phoenix Beverages.”
Since word that Brooklyn Brewery was eyeing Pier 7 broke last year, the
Port Authority and the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC),
as well as Borough President Marty Markowitz, have expressed a desire
to bring the brewery to the waterfront site.
This week, the EDC was still on the mark with that message.
“I know we are talking to a company called Phoenix Beverage that’s
based in Long Island City, and they are interested in locating to Pier
7,” said EDC spokeswoman Jennifer Nelson, which brokered a 30-year
lease deal with Carnival and Norwegian cruise lines to dock in Brooklyn,
at piers 11 and 12, starting in 2006.
“I know they have an interest in wanting to move to Pier 7, and because
of the litigation, that’s not proceeding,” she said.
But Hindy’s hopes, which involve getting Phoenix Beverage set up
as an active exporting business by cargo ship at Pier 7, in order to increase
the brewery’s international distribution, may be at odds with what
the city’s deputy mayor for economic development, Daniel Doctoroff,
has said is the city’s priority for the piers.
In an April interview
Brooklyn Papers, Doctoroff predicted the effective death of shipping on
the Red Hook-Cobble Hill piers, saying the city had no plans to maintain
shipping operations there past 2007.
He said at the time that the city had “not made a final judgment
as far as what to do for piers 7 through 9,” but said Pier 10 was
an “inevitable” part of the cruise port plans, which would wipe
out all of ASI’s remaining operations.
Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said this week that he was unable
to discuss anything involving pending litigation, and declined to comment
on the agency’s interest in bringing Brooklyn Brewery to Pier 7.
“That whole issue gets into litigation, and for me to answer that
question would be airing obvious stipulation,” Coleman said. About
Brooklyn Brewery, he said, “I guess they will have those discussions
after we get the litigation behind us.”
Hindy said he would create an extended beer garden on the pier that could
offer tours of the brewing facilities as well as increase production.
He also said the brewery and Phoenix would generate economic wealth for
the borough and the city, and save his own company a great deal of expense
currently being used to pay for truck hauls to bring the exports to Port
Elizabeth in New Jersey for shipment.
“Phoenix would be bringing in thousands of containers of Heineken
and import beers; it would be a lot of business for the Brooklyn piers,”
said Hindy. “Brooklyn Brewing will probably export 75,000 cases of
beer — that’s 80 or 90 containers going out.”
“We’re going to be expanding, our beer has caught on in Denmark,”
he added. “Being able to ship directly off the pier would save us
significant money in transportation.”
Brooklyn Heights Councilman David Yassky, who chairs the Waterfront Committee
and also sits on the committee for economic development, said the bi-state
agency had brought things to a standstill.
“I do not understand the Port Authority position here — if the
Port Authority is happy with Phoenix as a replacement, then they should
agree to that and it will happen; if not, then say so and explain why,”
Yassky said. “I don’t know what more they could ask for, because
Phoenix is an excellent maritime use with real jobs.
“If they don’t want Phoenix, then say so,” he said. “If
they do want Phoenix — as they should — I don’t know why
they’re insisting that first ASI has to vacate, and only then will
they sign a deal with Phoenix. Why do they care? Let’s sign a deal
with Phoenix and let’s move forward. I’m finding the Port Authority’s
Yassky also noted the EDC’s swift work in acquiring piers 11 and
12 for cruise ship operations last December.
“When EDC wants something to happen, like cruise ships, they get
initiative here and make it happen,” Yassky said, adding, “I
wish they were using that kind of initiative here.”
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010