The Hot Seat: Gregory T. O’Connell


Welcome to the Hot Seat, where we interview folks involved in Brooklyn architecture, real estate, and the like. Introducing Gregory T. O’Connell, of The O’Connell Organization. The real estate development group owns over 70 properties in Brooklyn and Mount Morris, NY and is specifically known for its investment and development of the Red Hook waterfront.
BS: What neighborhood do you live in, and how’d you end up there?
GOC: I live in the Columbia Street Waterfront District. I grew up there (technically not Red Hook) and once I got out of college I moved back in with my parents. As you can imagine, both working and living with your parents can become trying on the human psyche so I moved into an apartment a few blocks away a couple of years ago. It’s a great location because it is close to where I work and my family (possibly too close) but it is not the ideal spot for a young single guy…lots of baby carriages and families. The location does however allow me to abide by my sworn duty to only go to Manhattan at most once per month (trips to Wo-Hop not counting).

BS: Can you talk a little bit about your family’s history in Red Hook, what it was like growing up in that environment and ultimately deciding to be a part of it professionally?
GOC: In Red Hook in particular my father began in the early 1980’s. He had been developing brownstones and other primarily residential multi-family properties in the Columbia Street Waterfront, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens sections of Brooklyn mainly because of the affordable prices. I believe his first building was at 432 Henry Street, which he purchased for $22,000 in 1967. At that time, he had lived in the garden apartment while fixing up the remaining floors. My father’s outlook has always been long-term and based on a 20-year or more investment horizon. This mentality has been adopted in every investment he has made, real estate, or otherwise. From 432 Henry St. he tried to replicate his methods with similar purchases in that area. He and my Mom eventually purchased a fixer upper on Warren between Hicks and Columbia St. for $4,000 in 1976 …this is where my brother Michael and I were raised. After 10-15 years of acquiring and renovating residential properties, my father became interested in and saw potential in the large warehouses, which for the most part were dilapidated and abandoned on the Red Hook Waterfront.

After the jump, Greg talks about developing in a public-transportation-challenged neighborhood, commercial vs. manufacturing growth in Red Hook, and a start-up brewery coming to Pier 41…
GOC: My father’s first commercial warehouse purchase was at 106 Ferris St., formerly known as the German American Warehouse. He had purchased this building in 1982 from Mr. Morris Philip. Mr. Philip was an inventor who held patents all over the world for his knitting machine, which had revolutionized the industry. Mr. Philip owned 106 Ferris St. and Pier 41 as well as a factory in the Bronx. My father had entered into a partnership and was able to purchase 106 Ferris outright. He did not, however, have the capital in order to purchase Pier 41. As with every other deal that he was involved with in those days, he entered into a handshake agreement. It was unique in this situation because he promised that he would take care of the maintenance of property until he had saved up enough as long as Mr. Philip would hold the property for him. Both men held up their ends of the agreement and in 1984 Greg Sr. was able to purchase Pier 41.

Just like we still try to do today, Greg Sr. attracted tenants, mainly young entrepreneurs looking for a real bargain rent and a place to try their ideas and create. With regard to his acquisition of the Beard St. Warehouses, there was an RFP put out by the Port Authority. After seeing what he had done with 106 Ferris and Pier 41, members of the community encouraged him to put in a bid for the Beard St. Warehouse.

My brother Michael, who is 15 years older than me, had been involved on a regular basis since he was a young boy. He had always taken interest in construction and the large pieces of equipment that were used. In fact, his nickname, Pettibone, was given to him because he was always on the machines, none more so than the Pettibone Backhoe we had. He was on job-sites with my father whenever he wasn’t in school and he has been a part of most of the renovations and development our organization has been responsible for over the past 30 years. I was not as hands on as Michael was when I was a kid and had what most would consider a more normal childhood. Although I was forced to clean bricks and work at a young age, my involvement in no way compared to that of my brother.

It was difficult growing up during the time when my father was battling for his projects, being shaken down by a City Councilman, working 12-15 hours a day 7 days a week. I was always into basketball; I played in CYO, AAU, high school and eventually in college. Despite whatever went on at work, my Dad would always be in the stands at my games. Some of my favorite memories were the summers when I played in the Red Hook Rise tournament organized by the Hall brothers at Coffey Park. I had often snuck off the job site to hang out with Ray Hall, who was and still is our onsite security guard at the Beard St. Warehouses.

It took me a while to figure out what I was good at and what I wanted to do with my life but after college, when I began working in Red Hook full-time and not just in the summer, I started to realize that I loved everything about this business, neighborhood, and the people that I dealt with on a day-to-day basis (even tenants). My father began mentoring me and I was able to absorb many of the things that are unique about his thought process and overall outlook in terms of business management and real estate development. They made and still make sense to me. I brought technology into the fray and reorganized what had been a real estate office that still used hand-written ledger sheets. I began to utilize every marketing platform possible so that we didn’t need to rely on word-of-mouth in order to rent our availabilities. I instituted a plan of action in order to properly deal with historically delinquent tenants because I thought and still think that these properties and we as owners/managers deserve tenants that will utilize and respect the spaces and our livelihood, just as we do theirs. Due to this implementation we had to deal with a large amount of vacancies at one time. Through marketing, networking and willingness to work with brokers and new businesses we were able to reach a steady rate of 1-2% vacancy. Now, I cannot imagine doing anything else and am extremely grateful and lucky considering the situation I am in and the people that surround me; whether they be tenants, friends, community members, coworkers or family.

BS: The inaccessibility of Red Hook has served as both a strength and a detriment to the neighborhood. What is it like developing in such a unique space of Brooklyn?
GOC: In terms of the commercial and mixed-use development that we have been responsible for in Red Hook, we have seen an increased demand for space, whether it is industrial, apartment, artist studio, office or retail.

I believe further development is an extreme challenge here because of the drastic changes that the neighborhood has encountered over the past decade. If major residential development occurs and 50 plus unit apartment buildings are erected, transportation will become even more inadequate. People seem to want to move to Red Hook judging by the outrageous sale prices of residential properties. Without any change and improvement to the public transportation options, it will become increasingly difficult for current residents and employees of local businesses, to travel to and from Red Hook.

When developing in an area like Red Hook, which is complex and unique, one has to take the community’s needs, meaning residents and businesses new and old, into account in order to create something that is as universally beneficial as possible. The uniqueness of this neighborhood and the community involvement associated with most new development lend themselves to what should end up as well thought out, challenging real estate development. Unfortunately, many developers refuse to make any connection with the community and are not interested in any sort of compromise that could potentially benefit local businesses and residents.

BS: Can you talk about how the retail growth of Red Hook has corresponded, or perhaps differed, from the neighborhood’s industrial and manufacturing growth?
GOC: In my opinion, the obvious retail growth in Red Hook has thus far not had much of an impact on manufacturing growth. In terms of growth, I assume that you mean new development and demand for industrial space. We have had an increase in demand on our commercial properties for industrial use but I don’t think this has a direct relationship with the retail growth that has occurred – it may have had an indirect impact on demand.

Quality retail in Red Hook over the past decade has certainly popularized the neighborhood with establishments such as Fairway, Baked, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Fort Defiance and the Good Fork. I emphasize quality because these are places that enhance the neighborhood and make people want to come back here. These places have certainly made Red Hook a popular destination and increased foot traffic especially on weekends. Popularity of the neighborhood, I believe, has directly affected our inventory and has increased our occupancy rate on all of our properties. By making people more aware about how special Red Hook is, quality retail has indirectly enhanced growth amongst our manufacturing properties.

On the flip side, this popularization of Red Hook may also attract retail operations that do not enhance our community, which may diminish industrial growth. For example, a common benefit to large retail is a high amount of jobs in one location. If this kind of operation is to come in, an agreement needs to be made between representatives of the community and the retailer so that both sides can benefit over a long period of time. Currently, Red Hook Initiative, a community based organization, employs just over 65 Red Hook residents, making it the largest employer of local residents in Red Hook. With Red Hook’s increasing popularity along with large development parcels in the neighborhood coming available for sale, big box retail operations are chomping at the bit to be here. This is an inevitable occurrence because many of these parcels allow for that kind of use. We certainly have to make sure that these supposed local job creating mechanisms hold up their end of the bargain – meaning a required quota for local residents, mandated quota of donation for community based organizations/not-for-profits, offering of public access space amongst other concessions over a long-term period, not just a few years after opening.

BS: What’s the most striking change you’ve seen in South Brooklyn in recent years?
GOC: The increase in the amount of bicycle traffic.

BS: What’s happening currently at the O’Connell Organization? What’s to come?
GOC: We are currently working on a few small but meaningful projects within the neighborhood. My personal goal in order to limit our vacancy rate and support local businesses is to promote Red Hook as a whole. We are currently producing a movie with local film-maker, Anna Mumford, in order to highlight many of our tenants and reinforce the idea that industry still exists and is alive and well along the Red Hook Waterfront. We are also producing a photo book highlighting the photos of local photographer Thomas Rupolo called Images of Red Hook. We are in the process of sponsoring a project teaming up with the well-regarded community development organization, Red Hook Initiative, in order to supply plants and gardening knowledge to local young adults in order to beautify certain areas within the Red Hook Houses and maintain those areas year-by-year.

We have been leasing to tenants who we believe will benefit the community and attract new customers and businesses to Red Hook. There is a recent surge in the industrial market especially in terms of the food industry and we are trying to cultivate that as much as possible. Some recent food oriented tenants of note are The Liberty Warehouse, a catering facility at the edge of Pier 41. Mile End Production Facility, a central kitchen for all of their outposts, most noted for Mile End Deli on Hoyt St. We facilitated an expansion of Red Hook Winery to Pier 41. Brooklyn Crab, a seafood restaurant built by the folks behind another property of ours, Alma Restaurant/B61 Bar and of course Pok Pok Ny, located in the Columbia Street Waterfront District. We are also in the process of bringing in a start-up brewery at our Pier 41 property which should fit in perfectly. In short, we will have wine, beer, smoked meat, key lime pie and a party spot at Pier 41!

We have also implemented a massive capital improvement initiative on our historic civil war warehouses along the Red Hook Waterfront, installing new roofs, windows and eventually repairing all of the bulkheads along the piers. Along with these physical improvements we are working with start-up internet provider, Brooklyn Fiber, to offer a lower cost, higher speed internet to our commercial tenants. We are also in the process of installing solar paneling on our Beard Street Warehouse property.

In terms of new development, we are currently weighing our options. Pricing in Red Hook especially seems to be out of sight at the moment. We are currently focusing on improving the properties we have in Brooklyn and once that is completely under control we will then look to develop but not force anything.

BS: Finally, your favorites: favorite BK neighborhood, favorite BK building, and favorite spot along the waterfront.
GOC: Tie between Columbia Street Waterfront District and Red Hook, Brooklyn Clay Retort and Fire Brick Works – 76 Van Dyke Street/Red Hook. Pier 44 Waterfront Garden.

57 Comment

  • no-permits

    i don’t care much for the kid. but on the other hand, the father seems like a pretty good guy. i would have rather seen an interview with him.

    • What a ridiculous thing to write. What are you, 15? Use your real name if you want to talk trash.

    • This is a great interview. The O’Connell family has done some truly amazing things for Red Hook like creating new parkland for all to enjoy, supporting not-for-profit organizations like RHI and BWAC, fostering sensible development, in general not chasing the almighty dollar like every other developer on the planet.

      Every one of my dealings with “the kid” (he is nearly 30 btw) have been very professional and I have never had an issue with him or their organization. Why must posters like No-permits use this forum to make unmerited personal attacks? Does he even know Greg? Most of No-permits posts tend to be quite uninformed but this one really takes the cake.

  • Greg is one of my favorite clients. An ardent small business supporter, and a fellow native who still believes in the value of family, tradition, and the historical greatness of Brooklyn.

  • Greg is one of my favorite clients. An ardent small business supporter, and a fellow native who still believes in the value of family, tradition, and the historical greatness of Brooklyn.

  • In fact Red Hook is lucky that Greg Sr. has an heir to carry on and refine the original vision. It’s often that family run businesses fail or are sold off because of not having a suitable successor. Imagine what would happen to Red Hook were all those properties sold. We would then emulate the rest of the US – a tiny population of super wealthy, a large population of very poor, and little else. Greg Jr. is doing his best to ensure a middle class can thrive here as well, what with his continuing emphasis on maintaining a mixed working/living Red Hook.

  • What a wonderful story of a true family legacy. O’Connell’s father should be incredibly proud to have raised such an intelligent, driven, young businessman. Keep up the good work, and get used to that South Brooklyn bicycle traffic :)

  • Hey I am biased cause we are friends but Greg Jr. (Sr.) have done some of the r.e. and community development work work in BK, period. They love the area, the have hung big time (counting 1969 in columbia area this is the SIXTH decade) and the results are great.

    Affordable commercial, just like affordable housing, is a key to brooklyn.

  • Hey I am biased cause we are friends but Greg Jr. (Sr.) have done some of the r.e. and community development work work in BK, period. They love the area, the have hung big time (counting 1969 in columbia area this is the SIXTH decade) and the results are great.

    Affordable commercial, just like affordable housing, is a key to brooklyn.

  • hey all no-permits said was ‘he doesn’t care too much for the kid’ not an attack that is an IMO….. anyway, i think most important point is Greg Jr. is there to carry on like gbrook said.. that is super key

  • no-permits

    what was offensive about what i said? charley? allison11209? gowanus guy? or should i just call you all greg since the accounts were all created today.

    • i didn’t create my account today. and allow me to say you are a tool and a troll my friend. then again what to expect from a guy that marries his daughter

      • no-permits

        how does someone that’s a first time commenter andddd name calling call someone else a troll? based on your moniker alone i’d call you the tool “hydro dude”

        keep bringing it greg.

        • when you’re not showing $700 one bed rooms in bed stuy to families of 5 do you normally sit at home in your boxers, crumbling doritos into your ramen, and commenting on other people’s lives?

        • when you’re not showing $700 one bed rooms in bed stuy to families of 5 do you normally sit at home in your boxers, crumbling doritos into your ramen, and commenting on other people’s lives?

    • I’ve been reading Brownstoner for years but never felt the need to comment until you decided to post something offiensive about one of my associates.

      • no-permits

        i’m glad i got you off the couch. but seriously. what was offensive? please explain. i like the old man more than the kid. shoot me.

        • What was offensive? OK then I will explain.

          Greg Jr gives us a long, informative interview and then the first comment to appear is yours saying you don’t like the guy. Have you met him before?

          If you had posted about something specific that he said that you didn’t agree with I would have no issue with you. But you only stated your opinion that you do not like the guy, which is a personal attack, and I find that offensive.

          Do you see this now?

      • I also felt compelled to “sign up” in order to join this conversation. I have lived in RH for many years. I am, frankly tired of the constant worship of O’Connell as though he deserves the Order of Lenin. First, he and his family have made a lot of money on land that was practically free, I don’t fault him for that, but this is not altruism. He has consistently opposed development in RH that would threaten industrial use, The O’Connell plan for RH is hinted at in this article: for them, residential development means unacceptable traffic; but big box stores are rationale uses of large lots, and the traffic they generate is invisible. This puff-piece is well-timed as there are rumors of a new BJ’s box store for the the end of Richards Street. But then, they don’t actually live in RH, do they?

        • You’ve lived in Red Hook since when? sounds like someone who doesn’t remember how the neighborhood used to look.

        • The much rumored BJs is proposed to be built on Joe Sitt’s property, not the O’Connell’s.

        • the OConnell family is far from perfect. however, lets face it, Red Hook would have gone the way of DUMBO and Williamsburg if not for Greg. in fact, if you are a homeowner, you should be down right gleefully. your property values have gone up 72% without overdevelopment and loss of street parking.

        • the OConnell family is far from perfect. however, lets face it, Red Hook would have gone the way of DUMBO and Williamsburg if not for Greg. in fact, if you are a homeowner, you should be down right gleefully. your property values have gone up 72% without overdevelopment and loss of street parking.

        • I am not a fan of big box stores by any means. I feel Fairway is a correct fit for the neighborhood even though it has increased both car and foot traffic in Red Hook. That is the only large retail operation that I wholeheartedly support in the neighborhood because it’s benefits far outweigh its negatives . We have nothing to do with the Thor Equities property. I’m pretty sure you missed my point that a mixed use mindset and taking into account residents and businesses in the community is paramount for healthy, beneficial real estate development. I only brought up retail because it seems inevitable to me, especially at the parcel you mention. It is an as of right development there so if it does go in we need to make sure that there are concessions made over a long term period that help the neighborhood. My brother lives in Red Hook and has for 10 years.

          • So true. The Sitt property will one day be commercial. Wont happen under Bloomberg since Sitt screwed the City so royally in Coney Island. under the next mayor, most likely will be big box devo. definitely not some crazy-ass Marina Del Ray like luxury condo development the local neighborhood association keeps pitching.

          • Jonb, What local neighborhood association are you speaking of? I’m not aware the local red hook civic association is pushing for developing so called big box store you must have your organizations crossed….Maybe Caige Hammermans Community Board six may have spoke favorably, but I have not heard any thing from that direction…. And I know Greg O’Connell Jr. Or Greg T O’Connel as He prefes to be called is not in favor of such an idea either….

            I’ve resided in Erie Basin for most of my 82 years…I’ve watched the O’Connell organization perform their work, they are neat, clean, and a credit to the community… Anytime I’ve had occassion to visit them with a request to remove a tree of theirs that was in danger of falling, or blocking something insome way, or just about any problem the were kind and courteous and promptly granted my request… They are especially neat wherever they work, He’s always got a man or two doing nothing but planting flowers all through the nabe and surrounding the property….They’re especially kind to the artists and other not for profit groups, ask Dave Sharpe from the museum barge…. Or the artists coalition from the neighborhood….Or even Ray Hall who heads up Red Hook Rise with his brother how the O’Connell organization treats him…. I have nothing but good things to say about the O’Connell organization…Only recently, when they constructed their waterfront garden across from their office near Fairway, a bench that was used by two Nuns in particular who performed much charity work in Red Hook used to relax often on one bench in particular while visiting this garden… He had a plaque installed paying tribute to these two Nuns both now deceased….My wife informed me the plaque had become weather worn and aked me if I knew somweone who might attend to the problem/….I emailed Greg O’Connell, and explained the situation….AAfter a tfew weeks Greg T. contated me and also posted photos on his web of the new bronse plaqu he had cast up in maine, and also had it installed….Never mind the new sign was nearly 10 times as large as the old plaque… I’m sure the Nuns are in Heaven where they belong, and the plaque is still being talked about both in Heaven as well as here on earth. Red Hook is indeed a much better and challenging neighborhood thanks to the O’Connell Organization Greg Sr. Greg Jr..and Mike… And let’s not forget Mom O’Connell who tolerates all the late suppers she had to endure while her men were trying and succeeding in rehabilitating The Point, and also Monroe New York….God Bless Her… Sorry I took so long to reply, but there’s so much to be said about the O’Connell organization…..JJB….. Red Hook Area Historian.,.,…

          • the red hook civic association is against big box and pretty much all as-of-right industrial uses, but very much residential conversion.

          • no-permits

            another first time commenter with an account created yesterday.

            just stop it greg. grow up.

          • jjb is a very well known red hook citizen and is definitely not greg jr. google red hook heritage trail and see for yourself

          • Hey Buddy – I have not commented here other than under this name. Brownstoner can attest to that. No worries though – I wear your scorn as a badge of honor.

          • Hey Buddy – I have not commented here other than under this name. Brownstoner can attest to that. No worries though – I wear your scorn as a badge of honor.

          • dash

            same thing happened to me and the bf when we opposed something greg junior said, on this very same site. so full of himself, and so afraid of criticism.

          • dash

            same thing happened to me and the bf when we opposed something greg junior said, on this very same site. so full of himself, and so afraid of criticism.

          • Jonb, What local neighborhood association are you speaking of? I’m not aware the local red hook civic association is pushing for developing so called big box store you must have your organizations crossed….Maybe Caige Hammermans Community Board six may have spoke favorably, but I have not heard any thing from that direction…. And I know Greg O’Connell Jr. Or Greg T O’Connel as He prefes to be called is not in favor of such an idea either….

            I’ve resided in Erie Basin for most of my 82 years…I’ve watched the O’Connell organization perform their work, they are neat, clean, and a credit to the community… Anytime I’ve had occassion to visit them with a request to remove a tree of theirs that was in danger of falling, or blocking something insome way, or just about any problem the were kind and courteous and promptly granted my request… They are especially neat wherever they work, He’s always got a man or two doing nothing but planting flowers all through the nabe and surrounding the property….They’re especially kind to the artists and other not for profit groups, ask Dave Sharpe from the museum barge…. Or the artists coalition from the neighborhood….Or even Ray Hall who heads up Red Hook Rise with his brother how the O’Connell organization treats him…. I have nothing but good things to say about the O’Connell organization…Only recently, when they constructed their waterfront garden across from their office near Fairway, a bench that was used by two Nuns in particular who performed much charity work in Red Hook used to relax often on one bench in particular while visiting this garden… He had a plaque installed paying tribute to these two Nuns both now deceased….My wife informed me the plaque had become weather worn and aked me if I knew somweone who might attend to the problem/….I emailed Greg O’Connell, and explained the situation….AAfter a tfew weeks Greg T. contated me and also posted photos on his web of the new bronse plaqu he had cast up in maine, and also had it installed….Never mind the new sign was nearly 10 times as large as the old plaque… I’m sure the Nuns are in Heaven where they belong, and the plaque is still being talked about both in Heaven as well as here on earth. Red Hook is indeed a much better and challenging neighborhood thanks to the O’Connell Organization Greg Sr. Greg Jr..and Mike… And let’s not forget Mom O’Connell who tolerates all the late suppers she had to endure while her men were trying and succeeding in rehabilitating The Point, and also Monroe New York….God Bless Her… Sorry I took so long to reply, but there’s so much to be said about the O’Connell organization…..JJB….. Red Hook Area Historian.,.,…

          • no-permits

            how do you feel about whole foods on 3rd and 3rd?

          • If Thor asked the Community Board to support rezoning of that lot to accommodate residential development as part of a mixed use development, you would oppose it and probably be successful in making sure it did not happen. Am I wrong? Nothing is inevitable.

    • It should make no difference when a person created an account…. Good, clean, critisism is vital to a healthy community….Sometimes people become so attached to a noble dream they attract unnecessary stern opposition… This can generate into argumentive proportions which neither party plans or intends…I’s always best to give the opposition the benefit of the doubt…
      Many years ago when I first met Greg O’Connell, I had a serious talk with him..I inquired what was hs reason for doing what he was doing….His reply to me was suprising,,, ” he told me his Father always remarked how much h respected and amired the Blue collar worker….These people in his Dads opinion are the backbone of any thriving community…They always work hard to achieve…They always pay taxes(and even cheat a little) They for the most part keep their children in check to be certain they respected their elders, their neighbors, and in general all people regardless of the others differences…Greg Sr. concluded his answer to me by saying,
      “I want to bring more blue collar jobs into Red Hook…I want to help Red Hooks younger people to acquire the necessary know-how to perform thes jobs”…Now, I ask anyone reading this post….How can you be against such a noble dream as this???…..JjB…..

    • It should make no difference when a person created an account…. Good, clean, critisism is vital to a healthy community….Sometimes people become so attached to a noble dream they attract unnecessary stern opposition… This can generate into argumentive proportions which neither party plans or intends…I’s always best to give the opposition the benefit of the doubt…
      Many years ago when I first met Greg O’Connell, I had a serious talk with him..I inquired what was hs reason for doing what he was doing….His reply to me was suprising,,, ” he told me his Father always remarked how much h respected and amired the Blue collar worker….These people in his Dads opinion are the backbone of any thriving community…They always work hard to achieve…They always pay taxes(and even cheat a little) They for the most part keep their children in check to be certain they respected their elders, their neighbors, and in general all people regardless of the others differences…Greg Sr. concluded his answer to me by saying,
      “I want to bring more blue collar jobs into Red Hook…I want to help Red Hooks younger people to acquire the necessary know-how to perform thes jobs”…Now, I ask anyone reading this post….How can you be against such a noble dream as this???…..JjB…..

  • no-permits

    what was offensive about what i said? charley? allison11209? gowanus guy? or should i just call you all greg since the accounts were all created today.

  • dittoburg

    I wish the O’Connells had got to the Greenpoint waterfront before Guttman got his claws in it

  • Great piece. I’ve been associated with the O’Connells for over 10 years, as a tenant and with my involvement with the community. As the interview states, they are open to all types of development as a tool for neighborhood improvement and permanent job creation, as opposed to most developers looking to flip properties or build high rises under the guise of job creation, when the construction jobs really only last a year tops.

  • I have known Gregg Sr. for more than twenty years and Gregg Jr. for just a few. Gregg Sr. is an amazing, honest and honorable person who has done an enormous amount for the Red Hook community. In addition to revitalizing the community, he has a commendable sense of history. The waterfront looks more beautiful today than it did fifty years ago. Gregg Jr. is clearly the son of Gregg Sr. He too is an amazing person. For someone so young he has a fantastic sense of business and a terrific ability to relate to people. He has exceptional vision and a social conscience that is directed to making the world a better place. Bravo and keep doing what you do Gregg Jr. and Sr.

  • I have know Gregg Sr. for more than twenty years and Gregg Jr. for just a few. Gregg Sr. is an amazing, honest and honorable person who has done an enormous amount for the Red Hook community. In addition to revitalizing the community, he has a commendable sense of history. The waterfront is more beautiful today than it was fifty years ago. Gregg Jr. is clearly the son of Gregg Sr. He too is an amazing person. For someone so young he has a fantastic business sense and a terrific ability to relate to people. He has exceptional vision and a social conscience that is directed to making the world a better place. Bravo and keep doing what you do Gregg Jr. and Sr.

  • I have know Gregg Sr. for more than twenty years and Gregg Jr. for just a few. Gregg Sr. is an amazing, honest and honorable person who has done an enormous amount for the Red Hook community. In addition to revitalizing the community, he has a commendable sense of history. The waterfront is more beautiful today than it was fifty years ago. Gregg Jr. is clearly the son of Gregg Sr. He too is an amazing person. For someone so young he has a fantastic business sense and a terrific ability to relate to people. He has exceptional vision and a social conscience that is directed to making the world a better place. Bravo and keep doing what you do Gregg Jr. and Sr.

  • Greg Jr. is extremely professional, intelligent, respectful, and fair in all his dealings. He is committed to the Red Hook community. As an attorney, it’s an honor to work with Greg Jr.

  • Greg Jr. is extremely professional, intelligent, respectful, and fair in all his dealings. He is committed to the Red Hook community. As an attorney, it’s an honor to work with Greg Jr.

  • The entire O’Connell family have been nothing but fair to us and our business since we met them 5 years ago. The fact that they maintain a hold on the rents for commercial space on over 100.000 sq ft, is a big contributor to this modern version of a working waterfront. The buildings at the piers could be classy condos with a Chick-fil-A and a Starbucks overnight and they could cash in and be done. So respect the restraint, yo!

  • Greg Jr is a great supporter and enabler of community organizations and events. My event the Red Hook Criterium is proud to be associated with their organization.

  • Good interview. I like this guy! Very Brooklyn. Cool and refreshing. Sincerely.

  • Good interview. I like this guy! Very Brooklyn. Cool and refreshing. Sincerely.

  • Greg, I think you have done an excellent job expressing your families’ historic involvement and future vision of the Red Hook community. Job well done! It’s good to know the O’Connell influence will continue for many years to come.

  • Having grown up in Brooklyn, I am constantly disappointed to see neighboorhoods like Wiliamsburg or Sheepshead Bay become so transformed that the spirit of the neighborhood is therefore extinguished. It is a complicated issue, which is why there can be so much debate regarding residential, commercial, industrial use of property. I believe that different categories of a community can co-exist successfully, as long as there is balance. When I go to Sheepshead bay now (the neighborhood where I grew up) I cannot find a parking spot, a good restaurant, a descent place to shop, or a view of the bay. The neighborhood is, in my opinion, destroyed because developers were allowed to erect residential monstrosities everywhere, to maximize potential profits, without the neighborhood infrastructure to support the masisve growth. What I respect most about the O’Connell Organization is the conservative approach to change. Red Hook is perhaps the last remaining neighborhood in NYC. If you look back on the history of Red Hook, there has always been a mix of industrial and commercial with a small residential presence to support the local business. One of the principal goals of Red Hook Winery is to embrace the creative and industrial spirit which made New York the greatest place on earth. On paper, it would have been much easier for the Greg Sr to rent our space to Starbucks or Subway. Greg believes, and has passed on this belief to his sons, that ‘when you stop creating things, the neighborhood dies’. We appreciate the opportunity to plant a new creative seed in brooklyn, and encourage the same to others, in an effort to continue to grow the culture and diversity of our great city. Without the O’Connells, this would not have been possible for us. I hope they never change their principals, for the sake of the future of Brooklyn.