Water Taxi heads to Fairway

The Brooklyn Paper
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Who needs the highway to get to Fairway?

A new weekend ferry service to bring Manhattanites to the new market — and perhaps to sample Red Hook’s other attractions — began last weekend.

“I had no idea about this place, it’s really beautiful,” said ferry rider John Bedan.

The newly renovated New York Water Taxi terminal sits at the foot of Van Brunt Street — facing the soon-to-open gourmet emporium.

Passengers will be able to stop in Red Hook, or hop a ride to Brooklyn’s Fulton Ferry Landing, or to Lower Manhattan, 17 times each Saturday and Sunday — a tourist-friendly schedule created with an eye towards the market, as well as the city’s plans to connect the notoriously hard-to-reach waterfront neighborhood to future parks in Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights and Governor’s Island.

A receipt from Fairway — expected to open on May 17 — will earn ferry passengers a $3 discount. Operators are hoping it’s enough of a deal to lure Manhattan’s Fresh Direct shoppers to the converted Civil-War era warehouse store.

“My brother is always saying what a pain it is to get to Red Hook, but when he got off the ferry he was like, ‘That was easy,’” crowed Red Hook resident Katie Dixon. “It was 15 minutes door-to-door from his apartment in the financial district to Red Hook.”

Not only residents and tourists are impressed. Last month, the federal Small Business Administration awarded the Fairway site’s developer, Greg O’Connell, its “Small Business of the Year” award, citing his role in “turning Red Hook into New York’s hottest new neighborho­od.”

The opening coincided with the second docking of the Queen Mary 2 at its pier at the foot of Pioneer Street. Some passengers were a little too enthusiastic.

“We got e-mails from cruise ship passengers who wanted to catch the ferry in Manhattan and take it to the dock at Red Hook,” said NY Water Taxi president Tom Fox. “But the walk is too long with baggage.”

This week, Ikea unveiled its plans for transporting shoppers to its big-box store on the waterfront — slated to open in the summer of 2008. In response to concerns about the traffic impact of its gigantic blue-and-yellow store, the Swedish furniture retailer said it will shuttle shoppers to the distant F and G train station at Smith and Ninth Street, and provide a non-stop ferry from their site to lower Manhattan.

Ikea’s ferry will be free — with the right shopping bag, of course.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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