Onetime Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward, who now works for one of the largest infrastructure builders in the world, has been pushing a plan to radically change Southwest Brooklyn since last year.
The plan involves replacing the Red Hook Container Terminal, and much of the rest of our working waterfront, with gleaming skyscrapers – more than tripling our local population. His company, AECOM, specializes in building subways, which figures prominently in the plan.
Using the exact wording of the AECOM plan to justify the proposal, citing the “untapped potential,” of the container terminal real estate, Governor Andrew Cuomo has made the AECOM proposal part of his 2018 State-of-the-State address.
The plan was issued last year, at a time which coincided with the expiration of the container terminal’s lease. A taskforce composed of local politicians headed by Borough President Eric Adams, including congressional representative Nydia Velazquez and Jerrold Nadler, sent a letter to Cuomo advocating for the renewal of the lease. The group was met with a stony silence.
At the last minute however, the longshoreman were granted a reprieve, when the Port Authority, who had seemed to be finally yielding to the lusting real-estate community who have wanted the terminal’s land for years, kicked the can down the road one more time, by granting them five more years.
This was around the time when the governor was taking a lot of heat for subway delays and MTA mismanagement. It was assumed that the governor (who essentially controls New York’s Port Authority decisions), didn’t want to add another political controversy to his plate.
The timing must be better, and Chris Ward’s maneuvering relentless, so now the governor has breathed new life into the plan, which includes the extension of the 1 subway train to Red Hook.
The maneuvering undoubtedly includes a continuation of the toxic battle between the mayor and the governor. The mayor, who has his own plans for the Red Hook waterfront, was noticeably silent on the AECOM plan. He is being pushed by different real estate interests to build a different train – a trolley car system that nobody wants except for different real-estate developers.
One would think that in a time of oversupply of luxury condos and the challenge of rising sea levels, that this plan would be dead in the water.
But beware – real estate developers and their sycophants are like Ferengis – relentless in their search for the next pot of gold.