A city deal to relocate a major beer distributor to the Red Hook waterfront is hailed as a crucial job-saving maneuver, but others say more jobs could have been created if the beverage company had been moved to a different Brooklyn pier nearby.
Just weeks after the city jettisoned its plans to develop Pier 11, next to the cruise ship terminal, into a marina, shipyard and harbor-side public esplanade, the Economic Development Corporation revealed that it had inked a deal with Phoenix Beverages to open a warehouse and trucking hub next year on the site, south of Hamilton Avenue.
But residents of Red Hook and the Columbia Street Waterfront District say that Phoenix, which delivers imported beer through the city and Hudson Valley, could have moved to another nearby pier — and the city then could have gone ahead with the more glamorous plan for Pier 11.
“It could have been win-win for everyone,” said Greg O’Connell, a Red Hook developer and member of Community Board 6. “The city’s plan isn’t bad, but it stops them from creating more jobs and opening up waterfront access.”
But the Phoenix deal ends that possibility — and instead will fill streets with noise and exhaust from delivery trucks departing from the pier, some residents said.
“It would be yet more traffic for our neighborhood,” said Michael Webster, a member of the Columbia Waterfront Association. Webster said that the cruise terminal and Ikea, which opened last summer, have crowded the streets.
Still, the city said Pier 11 is perfect for the beer deliverers.
“Pier 11 … is an ideal location to efficiently manage truck traffic so there is no adverse impact on residential areas,” said agency spokesman Dave Lombino, adding that there will be an overall drop in truck traffic citywide, because Phoenix used to receive cargo on New Jersey docks and then haul them through the city to its Long Island City headquarters.
Keeping Phoenix in the city will keep “several hundred” jobs in New York.
“If we can’t move to Red Hook, we would have had to move to Jersey,” said Greg Brayman, vice president of Phoenix, who declined to provide specific numbers of people who will be working on Pier 11.
Brayman and the city also refused to reveal the amount and length of the lease, making an objective analysis of the deal impossible.