John Quadrozzi Jr. wants to bring S.S. United States to Red Hook

Berth of a nation! Red Hook dock owner wants to house historic S.S. United States

Will it float?: Concrete tycoon John Quadrozzi Jr. wants to turn the S.S. United States as a floating office and entertainment facility on the Red Hook waterfront.
for The Brooklyn Paper
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He is waiting for his ship to come in!

The owners of historic luxury passenger liner the S.S. United States — which is currently wasting away in a Philadelphia berth — are trying to save the ship from the scrap heap, and a Red Hook businessman wants to dock it at his waterfront empire and turn it into a floating office and entertainment complex.

“I can’t say enough how exciting it would be to be a part of getting this ship sited in this area of Red Hook,” said concrete magnate John Quadrozzi Jr., who owns the Gowanus Bay Terminal at the end of Columbia Street.

The 63-year-old behemoth known as “America’s Flagship” — once the fastest ocean liner in the world — ferried icons including John F. Kennedy, Walt Disney, John Wayne, and Marilyn Monroe across the Atlantic during its heyday.

But the rise of air travel eventually put it out of commission, and for the past 19 years it has languished, racking up a maintenance bill of $60,000 per month that its skippers say they can’t afford to foot for much longer — so they sent out an S.O.S. to New Yorkers interested in housing it and fixing it up, and Quadrozzi answered the call.

His pitch is to gussy up the gutted vessel’s 12 decks — which span 13 football fields worth of space — and fill them with offices for start-ups, a gym and swimming pool, eateries, a theater, a maritime school, and a maritime museum. The ship would be self-sustaining, he claims, converting waste to energy and harnessing solar and wind power.

The plan may sound Titanic — in fact, the boat itself is larger — but Quadrozzi says both he and the S.S. United States Conservancy, which has owned the craft since 1999, believe it holds water.

“The conservancy feels not only would it physically be a good space to support the economics of the ship, it would be viable,” he said.

The extreme makeover would cost somewhere between $50 and $200 million, according to the conservancy, plus a $2 million ticket to tow the vessel from Philly to Red Hook.

Quadrozzi won’t foot the bill himself, but he will host the ship at his Red Hook facility rent-free, and both he and the conservancy say they are in the midst of talks with donors, developers, investors, and government agencies to fund the endeavor.

The conservancy says it is still deciding between the Red Hook plan and an undisclosed Manhattan location — or the scrap yard, if neither is viable — and hopes to make a decision by early November.

If the conservancy crew selects his plan, Quadrozzi says he will start a steering committee made up of members of the community to discuss the impact of the ship on the neighborhood.

Red Hook is home to several repurposed boats — Gowanus Bay Terminal already hosts the 107-year-old S.S. Yankee that owners are hoping to turn into a museum and gallery, oil tanker-turned-floating-education-space the Mary A. Whalen is docked in Atlantic Basin, and the Waterfront Museum at the end of Conover Street is housed on a 100-year-old barge — and residents say the S.S. United States would be a welcome addition to the neighborhood flotilla.

“It would have an incredible impact, it would create a huge space of commercial and industrial use in Red Hook which is really in line with what the neighborhood uses are now,” said Victoria Hagman, a member of Community Board 6 who has lived in the area for 13 years. “It will be really exciting to have a historic ship located right here.”

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: The S.S. United States was the largest ocean liner constructed in the US, but not the world.
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Reasonable discourse

waterboy from Gowanus says:
Oct. 28, 2015, 9:27 am
mikel says:
Oct. 28, 2015, 9:43 am
Terry from Red Hook says:
Sounds wonderful! I love the SSUS and have followed it for years. Can't think of a better place for it than in Red Hook. Seems like one good ship after another is coming to our shores.
Oct. 28, 2015, 10:07 am
Willy from Carrol Gardens says:
What's not to love, this is only the most amazing ship ever built.

And to think it could be in Brooklyn, I have to pinch myself.

Oct. 28, 2015, 10:22 am
Willy from Carrol Gardens says:
Whoops, meant to say "Incredible" (although "Ineradicable" could work too as it is the most famous ship that never sunk)
Oct. 28, 2015, 10:29 am
Dorothy Duddy kolbe from St Augustine fl says:
So exciting to hear. I pray it becomes reality
My husband Capt William F Kolbe was Chief Officer on its maiden voyage so for me it's personal
I can't thank this gentleman enough
Dotty Duddy Kolbe
Oct. 28, 2015, 11:06 am
Rich from Sheffield says:
Great news but it was never the biggest liner. Quite small compared to the Queens. Fast though.
Oct. 28, 2015, 11:30 am
Cassie from Bay Ridge says:
Yes! Bring the SS United States to Brooklyn. It will drive commerce, create jobs and it will enrich the already wonderful working waterfront heritage that is a major part of Red Hook's identity as a neighborhood.

I'd rather have the SSUS in Red Hook any day over a new overpriced condo building that was constructed solely for the 1% who want to feel "urban" or "edgy". The SS United States represents ALL of us as Americans.

Bring her home to Brooklyn and employ local people!
Oct. 28, 2015, 12:15 pm
Carl from UWS says:
The ss United States will be a fantastic addition to the Brooklyn water front and provide jobs for area.

Given the 600,000 square feet available, there is truly no end to the uses that could be incorporated within the sleek hull of the ss United States.
Oct. 28, 2015, 12:36 pm
Millie Massa from Carroll Gardens says:
So exciting, this would be a wonderful addition to Red Hook, Brooklyn in so many ways!
Oct. 28, 2015, 12:40 pm
Joan from Red Hook says:
far more exciting than developing another oversized condo building on the waterfront in Brooklyn!
Oct. 28, 2015, 12:58 pm
Dom Gervasi from Brooklyn says:
Creative, ingenious and, dare I write, entrepreneurial. A haven for Brooklyn start-ups? That's what we need. Glad it's not another condo in a parade of developments.
Oct. 28, 2015, 1:28 pm
Paul from Hunters Point, Queens says:
The Brooklyn waterfront deserves such a magnificent maritime gem! Brooklyn should make sure it gets the SS United States in its waters and be entitled to all the bragging rights that will come with her. As this city becomes a sea of cookie-cutter high-rises, let's make sure we keep, at least, the creme de la creme of our nation's most iconic achievements for future generations to see, visit and be inspired by.
Oct. 28, 2015, 1:28 pm
Dan from Morningside says:
This is a total win-win. What's needed:

1. Loud and clearCommunity and political support

2. A refined development plan, budget, and financial pro forma (Get those tenants pre-signed!)

3. Pre-development funding (maybe through some form of crowd funding) in order to undertake preliminary due diligence, the most complicated of which is likely environmental.

4. An effective mechanism and structure to ensure this project remains linked to real people and real communities.

All of this is attainable bit we need to get serious now.

Kudos to the players here for their commitment and vision.
Oct. 28, 2015, 1:53 pm
Sean Robertson from Bushwick says:
Given what "The Birth of a Nation" was about, this post has a rather unfortunate title.
Oct. 28, 2015, 4:19 pm
jay from nyc says:
maybe hey could put some affordable housing in it?
Oct. 28, 2015, 5:40 pm
Tom O'Neill from Las Vegas (ex-of Staten Island) says:
The S.S. United States would be a spectacular addition to New York harbor. When I was a kid living on Staten Island in the late '50's I went on the ship, in port, when it was still in service- it was great. I remember the contrast between the slick, colorful ship and the rather dingy (especially compared to Staten Island) "gray & brownish with a slight layer of soot motif" that was the late '50's N.Y. City scene. As an architect, I think the ship would , particularly, be great as part of a larger development on the land-where the design of the ship's interiors & the "design items" around the ship on the dock match with the design of the land-based components. The great thing about the ship is that the design is from that classic mid-1950's era-meaning it would fit in perfectly with a modern interiors, and modern design around the ship (or modern design combined with historic rehab of buildings-which could be a great combo). I was back in New York about 5 years ago and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. I thought that the general area near the bridge in Brooklyn was "primetime" for some neat waterfront urban rehab. It's obviously absurd to scrap the ship, especially after all these years-and since it is the last, and the best, of the classic liners. All sorts of ships have been saved in this country, from military (battleships, subs, even a liberty ship in San Fran) to ferry boats, to countless tall sailing ships-even the classic nuclear powered freighter NS Savannah (from the late '50's). Obviously it's critical to get the ship out of "the Philly high (as in: absurd) dock rent district". There should be a fundraiser by the S.S. United States Conservancy, which could include also anyone in New York obviously, to raise the money to tow the ship (Dann Marine Towing has some ocean going towboats in Philadelphia-if I were them, I'd offer to tow the ship at a reduced rate-great P.R. potential there). "Get Paul Simon on the horn"-or James Taylor. actually, I bet there are some name musicians somewhere who would dig the idea of a benefit concert. The S.S. United States Conservancy has members in all 50 states and something like 23 foreign countries. I bet most of them would give a little more to a drive to get the ship to N.Y.C. and solve that big problem. The way I "re-found out" about the ship (maybe 8 years ago by now) was: when me & my brother were on the ship we kyped some S.S. United States Lines swizzle sticks from the ship's lounge. I kept them-and one day I was looking on the "forgotten top shelf" in the cupboard and saw them-I thought "man, I wonder what ever happened to that ship"- hadn't heard a word about it since, like 1958 . I was surprised when I Googled it that it was still around. The swizzle sticks had a neat design-red or blue with an American eagle on top. In fact this design would make for great decorative pier- side "banner stanchions"- about 30' tall or so. Could be red or blue, or: make them multi-colored so the eagle has natural colors ( but could keep the pole part red & blue: or, add some white with a touch of red or blue, say at the top, right below the eagle). It would be a great- and historic-look: a bunch of these stanchions along the pier and as part of any pier-side buildings. As for a bold idea for design inside the ship: the space between the funnels is actually almost exactly as long & wide as the great glass-roofed "Conservancy Space" at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas- visitors,and locals, love this space-they change the plants & design inside with the seasons (Google image it). This would be a major thing to do on the ship (do a modern design version of it, the Bellagio design is "Lake Como Italy period design" ) but boy would it make for a great new little urban space for Brooklyn/ N.Y.C.-could be used for all sorts of functions, and double partly as a hotel lobby-make the glass roof operable-imagine at night, or twilight, looking up at the illuminated funnels -or: down from on top of the funnels (accessed by spiral stairs) into this space: great (x 2)! The people of N.Y.C./ Brooklyn need to get behind the ship, bring it back, and get it rehabbed as part of a really spectacular addition to the N.Y.C. scene.
Oct. 28, 2015, 6:24 pm
Richard from New Hampshire says:
It's do or die time. New Yorkers. It's your turn now. Cost 2 million to move. Everyone in New York City just give a few bucks. Bill Clinton and Billie Jean King. Your both worth millions. If you each give one million a peace you can bring her home. Good luck.
Oct. 28, 2015, 7:19 pm
R Troy from Long Island says:
She wasn't the biggest, but she was and is the quickest commercial ship and liner ever built, and probably the safest. And she is our nation's flagship!
Oct. 28, 2015, 9:05 pm
paulinuk from england says:
Multi functional, anyone have any suggestions , nbccould do there morning show on there. reunions
Oct. 29, 2015, 6:30 am
paulinuk from england says:
Shows, weddings, hotel, cooking shows, films, concerts, painting lessons, would need a lot of paint, art lessons , offices, anyone have some ideas
Oct. 29, 2015, 6:34 am
Brian R. McCaughrin from Michigan says:
Exciting News for the S.S. UNITED STATES. and it Saves $60,000 a month it already a winner...

God Bless, and Safe Travel!
Oct. 29, 2015, 9:16 am
reguy1 from bay ridge says:
imagine BOXING or MMA on the ship - inside or outside - it would be marvelous
Oct. 29, 2015, 9:25 am
D.K.Milgrim-Heath from Former Upper East Side Resident 1962 says:
The Once Majestic USS United States Ocean Liner Shall Be Scrapped
By D.K.Milgrim-Heath©20015
The once majestic USS United States ocean liner shall be scrapped-

Her once majestic metal body's total destruction date of 10/31/15 is capped.

My childhood memories as a nine year old passenger being in 1962 actually-

Will always be special in my heart filled with its precious, most loving memory.

My maiden and last European voyage to France with both my parents healthy and alive-

Brings tears as I'm writing this eternal memory in my mind that does survive.

Never again did I travel with both parents by my adolescent side-

As my beloved (long time yearly USS States passenger Emil Katz) in 1966 did die.

May someone(or a corporation) save you my dearly beloved USS United States-

Since you're a historical floating monument of the seas from the scrap machine stakes.
Oct. 29, 2015, 8:16 pm
Triumph Donnelly Studios from Tucson, AZ says:
To The Brooklyn Paper:


My office read your article by Lauren Gill that John Quadrozzi, Jr wants to save our great the
USS United States. My office went to several billionaires asking them to help save her, no interest, appalling.

Great job Mr. Quadrozzi Jr, save America's Ship from this ex Staten Islander.

Much success,
DJ Donnelly, CEO
Triumph Donnelly Studios TDS - DJ Donnelly Productions LLC
Oct. 30, 2015, 7:30 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Sounds like the state needs to take this property away from this landowner. Awful stuff.
Oct. 30, 2015, 9:38 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Oops forgot to mention Sounds like I am a troll. Real awful troll.
Oct. 30, 2015, 12:20 pm
Paul from Mendon, Mass says:
I am thrilled to hear this beautiful lady has been saved from the scrap heap. She so much more elegant than those overblown floating "office buildings" we call cruise ships today!

I wish I had billions. I'd buy her myself!

Two thumbs up!!!!
Oct. 30, 2015, 4:38 pm
Alice Tapia from Red Hook says:
I can't wait to see this happen.
John has always included the residents of Red Hook in his initiatives.
Can't wait to be a part of this!
Way to go! JQ
Oct. 30, 2015, 6:14 pm
sofia from lower manhattan says:
hopefully they will hire the commenter "Tom O'Neill from Las Vegas (ex-of Staten Island)"!!!!!! he just gave cited great ideas for free, just think what his imagination would fire up if he was paid for them!
Nov. 1, 2015, 3:18 am
Paul from Brooklyn Heights says:
I read the presentation; it will have a Maritime museum, Maritime school and Micro-industrial incubator space. The past, present and future all in one. Great idea and a wonderful addition for Brooklyn.
Way to go is right!
Nov. 2, 2015, 8:06 am
John Gleason from Red Hook says:
If you bring it, they will come. It would be nice to see the ship on the New York skyline once again, some serious venue that ship would be.
Nov. 2, 2015, 7:39 pm
Me Again from Cobble Hill says:
Now if Q Jr. would only do something with the eyesore he left to rot on Henry Street.
Nov. 6, 2015, 1:40 pm
Taylor S from Cobble Hill says:
...But I keep cruising
Can't stop, won't stop moving
It's like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, "It's gonna be alright."

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Nov. 8, 2015, 12:27 pm
Shirley from Florida says:
It's a shame to us if we let this icon go it's irreplaceable rode over the atla tic with my father when it was used to transport military Bob Hope was with us to entertain at Christmas time
Jan. 6, 2016, 12:26 pm
Shirley from Florida says:
It's a shame to us if we let this icon go it's irreplaceable rode over the atla tic with my father when it was used to transport military Bob Hope was with us to entertain at Christmas time
Jan. 6, 2016, 12:26 pm

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