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City firm on Pier 11

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Despite the appearance of a growing sentiment that Phoenix Beverages should relocate before ever officially moving to Pier 11 in Red Hook, the city seems unequivocal in its support for its original proposal.

“There is no disconnect in our mind that Phoenix is going to Pier 11,” Venetia Lannon, a vice president with the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the quasi-public agency behind the plan, said this week.

After EDC formally announced its intention to bring Phoenix, the region’s largest beer distributor, to Pier 11, those in the neighborhood expressed concern about the prospect of 100 trucks a day that the company’s arrival would bring, and suggested that locating it on Pier 7 would at least push it further away from residential homes.

Moreover, the switch could enable a proposal by New York Water Taxi president Tom Fox to take rise on Pier 11. Fox, who is partnered with the real estate giant The Durst Organization, hopes to build a dry dock marina, a man-made beach and other amenities along the waterfront.

Lannon said that while the EDC values Fox as a partner in the ferry industry, his plan “is not the plan we are moving forward with.” She stressed that Pier 7 “is not our pier, so it doesn’t matter if we are amenable or not.”

Pier 7 is leased by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to the container terminal operated by American Stevedoring International (ASI).

At press time, the Port Authority did not return a call and an e-mail for comment. Lannon said that since its early January presentation to Community Board 6, the EDC has not been having conversations with the Port Authority about the matter.

City Councilmember David Yassky told Community Board 6 last week that “with the waterfront, things can work in a variety of places.”

“I think we all have the same goal, which is to maximize the number of jobs we can generate from this stretch of waterfront,” the city lawmaker continued. Yassky has been a staunch supporter of ASI’s successful effort last year to win a long term lease extension from the Port Authority.

Lannon said the EDC has not spoken to ASI about moving from Pier 7.

Matt Yates, ASI’s director of commercial operations, had this to say: “We do not believe its helpful for us to comment on an ongoing public policy negotiation between other parties for Pier 11, of which we are not a part.”

“We are, however, open to dialogue with all parties, especially the community. Interestingly, we have not received a call from either the real estate developers O’Connell and Fox, nor any official from the community board.”

Greg O’Connell, the Red Hook developer Yates referred to, said he has no stake in Fox’s plan for Pier 11. “I don’t know what he’s talking about,” O’Connell said. “I don’t know, maybe he knows something I don’t know.”

O’Connell has been publicly supportive of the pier switch.

“I think [Yates] knows that the community has always supported the working waterfront, and it was refreshing to read [in a recent story in this newspaper] that he wants to continue to work with the community. I hope he means what he stated,” he continued.

O’Connell said Community Board 6’s Economic/Waterfront Committee, which he co-chairs, is planning to invite the Port Authority and EDC to a meeting scheduled sometime in February. “If everyone is willing to be somewhat flexible, this project could be great,” he said.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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