Brooklyn’s Red Hook Marine Terminal takes step toward mixed-use future: Hochul, Adams

A once-bustling but worn-down industrial Brooklyn marine terminal could be converted into a mixed-use area, perhaps including housing, officials said Tuesday.

Mayor Adams said the city aims to “reimagine” the 122-acre port, which is nestled between Red Hook and the Columbia Street Waterfront District. The terminal is set to be transferred to the city from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey under a lease transfer agreement.

Any potential redevelopment of the waterfront would hinge on a city planning process that is just getting underway and would include community input. Today, the fenced-in marine terminal is a sprawl of pavement dotted by cargo sheds, shipping containers and soaring cranes. It was built in the 1950s and ’60s; two of its piers are so dilapidated that they are no longer in use.

The port sits above Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel and a short walk from Brooklyn Bridge Park, which was transformed over the last 15 years from an industrial waterfront into a breathtaking green space with athletic fields, covered basketball courts and sweeping views of lower Manhattan.

Adams said the marine terminal carries its own untapped potential. The land swap deal — in which the city has agreed to trade the Howland Hook Marine Terminal in Staten Island in return for the Red Hook waterfront — is one of the city’s largest real estate transactions in recent years, the mayor said.

“Just look at this space, and just see the reimagining that is possible,” Adams marveled, promising that the trade would ultimately produce a “neighborhood on our shore line.”

The city will immediately invest $80 billion in the port, according to City Hall. Those investments are to go toward repairs and to a new electric crane to expand container terminal operations. The state has also pledged a $15 million investment in a cold storage facility at the site.

Gov. Hochul said the lease transfer is a step toward realizing the dreams of New Yorkers who for decades have imagined turning the marine terminal into “something more useful for the neighborhood.”

She said she and the mayor are impatient to revive the waterfront, but suggested they will make sure to consider community input. The announcement Tuesday was light on detail about any future projects unrelated to shipping at the site.

Still, Hochul suggested the time has come to “set sail on a whole new chapter for New York’s maritime future.” She said it would be “irresponsible” not to reimagine the terminal.

“Yes, this was once a thriving port,” Hochul acknowledged. “But reality is setting in. It’s no longer the port that it once was.”

The plan to shift the terminal out of the Port Authority’s hands was not warmly received by all.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Manhattan Democrat who represented the port for three decades before redistricting changed his district’s lines, said the site has unique shipping value as the lone container port facility with eastern access to the Hudson River.

Nadler argued that converting the port into housing could imperil supply chains in the event of a local maritime disaster, like the dramatic bridge collapse that snarled the Port of Baltimore earlier this spring.

“Instead of arbitrarily changing the ownership of Red Hook piers, the City, State, and the Port Authority should be doing everything possible to expand and invest in the port in Brooklyn,” Nadler said in a statement, adding: “I strongly urge the State, City, and the Port Authority to abandon this transfer.”

But Rep. Dan Goldman, the Democrat who represents lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn area around the port, celebrated the deal and vowed the project would carry on Nadler’s vision for the area as a shipping hub. He described the terminal as a “massively underused area with incredible potential.”

“We’ve now embarked upon a very collaborative, cooperative project,” Goldman promised.