Eulogies for the Pre-Ikea Red Hook

red-hook-street-06-2008.jpg
The Times goes man-on-the-street in Red Hook and finds a wide range of opinions on how this week’s opening of Ikea will affect the neighborhood:

-It will change for the worse, said a musician.

-German Mendez, who runs a store called the Red Hook Bike Shop, called Ikea a blessing. All these people in the new houses, they don’t like it, he said, as he inspected a customer’s tire. They gave us back the pier, he said, referring to Ikea.

-Now this is Mayberry, said a customer in Mendez’s shop, with a big blue box.

-If it was a Wal-Mart, I’d be protesting, said the owner of a Van Brunt Street wine bar. This could be a really good thing.

-I’m taking a picture before the funeral, said a video artist. In a week from now, the deserted streets won’t be deserted.

And yourself?

Awaiting a Big Blue Box and an Altered World [NY Times]
Big Retailers May Follow Ikea to Red Hook [NY Daily News]
Photo by alphabetjenn.

0 Comment

  • all the newbies who pretend to not like ikea are hypocrites. idiots

  • I’m curious, are people who are voting that this is for the betterment of Red Hook actually thinking this is in RED HOOK’s best interest? Or are they voting this option simply because they are excited about having an Ikea opening within their borough, and that this opening is in THEIR OWN best interest?

    I’m asking this with only the most honest and best intentions. I’m not being facetious, as I think most of you know I was and am vehemently opposed to this and am the mourning the imminent loss of this quiet, beautiful, sleepy, wacky fishing village that felt a bit like Briggadune (sp). I’ve said I think it is akin to a giant garden gnome being plunked down in a Monet landscape. And I was corrected by someone suggesting it is instead a Smurf.

    And please don’t lecture about jobs being provided. Of course that is desirable and very important. But right HERE? On the waterfront? In a huge blue, windowless box/warehouse? With current road configurations making anything short of horrendous onslaught of traffic and congestion and pollution all but impossible?

  • only way you get jobs in red hook is retail
    jobs, jobs, jobs

  • only way you get jobs in red hook is retail
    jobs, jobs, jobs

  • whats that great old stone warehouse in the picture?

  • actually, there are windows. it’s an unusual step for a big box store.

    Not saying it makes it better or worse.

  • Are you comparing Red Hook to a Monet painting? I grew up in Red Hook and have seen some horrific things as I played sports in the fields 20 years ago. Since the parks have been redone, fairway opened, and other recent changes occurred the area is safer then I ever remembered. Is that a bad thing?

  • “quiet, beautiful, sleepy, wacky fishing village”

    yeah thats red hook…exactly how the locals describe it

    such a shame that the neighborhood is now clean(er) and safe(er)…that we can enjoy the waterfront promenades…such a shame

  • This will make red hook better for me. I don’t live in red hook, and never would. It’s an industrial area with lots of housing projects and no subway transport. Now I have a fairway and an IKEA, and I will go there to shop for furniture, instead of Hicksville or Elizabeth NJ. Anyone gentrifier who buys in a place that’s zoned for industry and big box stores like this should not be sad when someone builds what’s allowed by the zoning.

    It’s not a quiet fishing village, it’s underutilized industrial watefront that the city and businesses should take better advantage of.

  • please bring a bed bath & beyond to this area, that would make my trips to red hook much more productive

    thanks

    and oh yeah get rid of those nasty projects

  • I don’t think a lot of people who are going to be shopping in Ikea are going to be lingering in the neighborhood. There is going to be a huge increase in traffic on certain streets in Red Hook now, and when is that ever a good thing for a neighborhood? If they funnel traffic in a way that keeps it of Van Brundt (or generally West of Ikea) than the impact won’t be as bad. But not a big plus for the area.

  • How will this be better for Red Hook? Shuttle=clean and free. B61=$2, late and slow. A great new way to commute between Red Hook and downtown. Not to mention Free water taxi to Manhattan. Anything that improves access to and from Red Hook, improves Red Hook.

  • Gosh, could it be that this both *good* and *bad* for Red Hook? Brings jobs, but brings cars. Revitalizes a waterfront but kills off some industrial history.

    People who have only ever been to the Elizabeth Ikea might envision a desolate, smelly, traffic-clogged wasteland. But that’s because that Ikea is nestled between an airport, a 12-lane highway and the busiest container port on the east coast. It was a pretty bleak neighborhood to begin with. Other Ikeas are in more vibrant areas.

    Red Hook is not isolated, it’s part of New York, which is undergoing a construction and population boom and should not expect to be left unaltered. There’s no reason Ikea’s opening needs to be categorized as either good or evil. The truth is that it cuts both ways, just like every other large and small parcel being re-developed in Brooklyn.

  • 11:41 is being sarcastic, but it would be great to have more shopping there, and it will happen now that there’s an IKEA and Fairway. I think that the people who live int the red hook houses would appreciate more shopping too. There’s no need to mix a political discussion about public housing with a discussion about retail because they’re not really related.

  • Hey 12:12: There’s no room for rational thought here. Move on. :-)

  • Actually, 11:28, this wasn’t allowed by the zoning. They had to seek a variance. Anyone who wants to opine on the situation, ought to at least get educated about it.

  • The variance was granted, and this got built, so it’s a legal use and now other things like this will be built. You can’t pretend like it’s not legally zoned for what is happening even if that means that they asked for the zoning variance. They went through a legal process to request the variance, right?

  • actually, it’s not even called a variance, but a “conditional use” permit.

  • I love love love IKEA, but the location is going to be a traffic nightmare for Red Hook residents. Have any of you who are pro this development actually walked around the new IKEA? I visited last weekend and there simply isn’t enough room for all of the cars that are expected.

  • was it built legally or not?

  • how bout we all, i dunno, let it open first and see how things go

    it might actually all work out in the end

    thanks

  • columbia street will be pretty bad, especially the part where you have to roll up your windows and duck as you pass the ghetto..very difficult to drive like that

  • If Ikea put a plant in that location that was going to build furniture, I’d have supported it. But as a store, it’s going to provide marginal eonomic benefit for the local community. Anyone remember how the Brooklyn Cruise terminal was partly sold as a jobs program? In the end, there are hardly any full time jobs related to that facility. This project treats Red Hook as nothing more than a driveway.

  • get real

    no one on this blog really gives a rat’s ass about the local community…it just makes some of us feel better and less guilty to pretend to care about the people in between our brownstones and our meatballs.

    ikea will be an enormous success, and hopefully the start of more non-ghetto retail in brooklyn

    peace

  • Why do people throw the word ‘ghetto’ around so easily on this site?

    It’s a tough word to use when it’s a big box retailer from Sweden plunking itself down in the middle of an area where most resident live in subsidized housing.

    Also- look up the history of the word ‘ghetto’ and then also look up the history of IKEA’s founder.

  • i second the request for a bed bath & beyond

  • 14,000 cars a day on the weekends for Ikea? How is that even possible? The traffic will be insane.

  • It was built legally. They got the variance. 11:28 was saying anyone who moved into an area zoned in this fashion shouldn’t complain when the zoning is lived up to, and my point to them was that it wasn’t zoned for this type of store. It’s an anomaly that got put through so you can’t criticize people who lived here before for complaining. If this were happening at the Atlantic Yards site, there’d be a lot more handwringing from the people now trumpeting it.

  • Fearing all of the traffic, but eagerly looking forward to lingonberries and free water taxis. The B61 extension is also nice, but they should really remove all street parking on Van Brunt and install more traffic lights as this area will soon be a traffic nightmare.

    Overall a 50/50 combination of terrific and terrible planning by the city and DOT.

  • When you widen the strees, more cars will come to fill up the wider street. If you remove on street parking, even more cars will come to fill that up to. It’s like the freeways in LA, the larger you make them, them more cars you attract.

  • I’ve heard the city is building a separate (from cars) bike path that will effectively connect DUMBO to Red Hook by going under the B. Heights’ promenade section of the BQE and then down Columbia. Anyone else heard this? It would be a much needed addition. I’ve also heard the new Smith/9th subway will have extensive bike parking (granted, riding your bike that way is a death wish…).

    Anyone heard about either of these? Couldn’t find any info other than speculation.

  • 2:32, are you referring to the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative?
    http://www.brooklyngreenway.org/

  • 2:32 – that’s it – thanks! Looks like it’s further along than I would have cynically expected: http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/05/19/eyes-on-the-street-biking-on-the-brooklyn-waterfront-greenway/

  • Nokilissa,

    I think your opinion is shared by a very small handful of Red Hook bohemians. I’ve lived Red Hook for the past ten years – not an old timer by any stretch. However, I am amazed at how some of my neighbors romanticize Red Hook circa 1998. Were things really that much better then? There was much more crime, both petty and violent. No commercials amenities or restaurants to speak of except a then private drinking club know as Sunny’s. A slew of noxious uses such as four methadone clinics and eleven private waste transfer stations. Horrible public schools.

    And remember the original proposal for the Todd Shipyards – the largest friggin garbage transfer station in NYC!

    Yes, Ikea will bring traffic, but during Red Hook’s heyday in the 1950s, there was ton of traffic. Red Hook’s period as an artsy rougue outback, 1980-1999, was anomaly and ephemera.

  • Brownstoner, It is not a matter of whether Ikea will change Red Hook for the better, but that it’s opening will mean that Red Hook will now never be able realize it’s true potential. Red Hook could have been so much more than a big traffic jam on the way to Ikea. The New York waterfront deserves better than Ikea.

  • Havemeyer

    I just want my sofa.

    And I daresay there are many residents of Red Hook from all walks of life that are equally capable of appreciating a $25 highchair, a $200 ecologically correct mattress, and a free playroom for the kids.

    In the 90′s I went to Red Hook a few times — or tried to. It was difficult, since what was considered the cool part of the neighborhood was only like four blocks long. “Where’s the rest of it?” I kept asking. I’m still not sure.

    I had a similar experience with Vinegar Hill… but that’s another story.

  • Havemeyer

    6:40…

    Count your blessings. Would you rather have the Edge?

  • This is such a stupid argument. What can you possibly do to make Red Hook worse?? Any change there can only be for the better. The place was one step away from a nuclear waste site. An IKEA is going to “ruin the neighborhood”?
    Honestly, there must be way too many folks here from Columbia or Harvard.

  • Heather – are you serious? You have to know that posting such an obnoxious comment will lead to your excoriation. I will avoid doing so myself, but if I were you, I would avoid trying to be the female Biff.

  • I think 6:40 summed it up for me.

    I’ve said it many times before, but this, Red Hook, was becoming a truly special place. If we’d given it more thought, planning and time, it could have been a “chelsea market” kind of treasure. Even better.

    5:24, it wasn’t a matter of romanticizing an bygone era, replete with crime, it was a matter of watching a place transform into something really unique and beautiful. Something that will now never have a chance to happen.

    Instead, it is to be… well, as Heather summed it up for us all, she really just wants her sofa… and she didn’t really get it after all, where the “cool” parts were hiding, that is. She just wants her MTV, er, sorry, Ikea.

    And Red Hook has just become a big traffic congested thru-way to Ikea. No more quiet cobble-stoned streets waiting for ideas. The big idea is a giant Ikea.

    Forgive me for laying down my head to cry.

  • Havemeyer

    A reasonably-priced home furnishing superstore vs. a high-rise with a Duane Reade? Yeah, I’m serious. Have you been to Jersey City?

  • I think 6:40 summed it up for me.

    I’ve said it many times before, but this, Red Hook, was becoming a truly special place. If we’d given it more thought, planning and time, it could have been a “chelsea market” kind of treasure. Even better.

    5:24, it wasn’t a matter of romanticizing an bygone era, replete with crime, it was a matter of watching a place transform into something really unique and beautiful. Something that will now never have a chance to happen.

    Instead, it is to be… well, as Heather summed it up for us all, she really just wants her sofa… and she didn’t really get it after all, where the “cool” parts were hiding, that is. She just wants her MTV, er, sorry, Ikea.

    And Red Hook has just become a big traffic congested thru-way to Ikea. No more quiet cobble-stoned streets waiting for ideas. The big idea is a giant Ikea.

    Forgive me for laying down my head to cry.

  • Nokilissa – I agree whole-heartedly. The problem with trashing the whole idea of Ikea in Red Hook is that it could have been much much worse (i.e., Wal-Mart, but who knows, maybe it’s next). But the sad truth is that it could have been much better as you’ve pointed out.

    So, instead of ever knowing if Red Hook could have realized its full potential, we’re left with Ikea and an influx of the Heathers of this city – mindless sheep who want cheap Scandinavian couches for their lux condos.

    Again, it could have been worse, but it could have been so much better.

  • Nokilissa,

    I still think your vision for RH is elitist and only appeals to the artsy/fartsy set and their ilk. If RH morphed into urban version of Sausalito or some other cutesy martime locale, only upper middle class white people that could afford to own a car and pay for private school would live there. Do you really want the majority of RH residents to look like the Fairway tenants with their St Ann’s brats and range rovers?

    Maybe the IKEA silver lining is the fact that it will slow down gentification a bit so that normal people could afford to buy a home.

  • But it isn’t going to “slow down” gentrification, 11:59, it killed it. Don’t you see? And Red Hook would never have become the yuppie-dom of which you speak because it just wasn’t convenient enough for “those people”. Plus, just too many projects too close for “those people”‘s comfort to actually buy and live there, thus keeping home price tags “reasonable”.

    It isn’t just the artsy fartsy set that appreciates beautiful open spaces, built well, planned well, with shops and groceries, and parks and playgrounds, and art, revolving sculptures, maybe a flea market with vendors and such. With amazing views of water and the harbor… ever been to Battery Park? Wandered around the seaport? Chelsea Market? Is it just elite, white, rich people enjoying the space? I don’t think so. And if it is, who’s making the choice not to be there?

    Last I checked, these weren’t country clubs with racist, classist entry policies and fees.

    I think it is condescending to presume that only the “elite” will enjoy and appreciate such spaces. Poor people just want jobs at giant retailers? Those Project people and their ilk don’t appreciate culture of that sort I guess. Just jam thousands of cars down their throats, and permanently prohibit beautiful, creative, park like development of their waterfront.

    9:50, thanks for your insight. It helps.