The city’s first new marina in decades is about to open in Brooklyn Bridge Park, nestled between Piers 4 and 5 on the park’s south side. The benefits of the marina are numerous, but construction of the 8-acre, $28-million One°15 Brooklyn Marina wasn’t easy.
Brownstoner caught up with marina co-founder and General Manager Tim O’Brien to talk about what locals can expect to see at this new maritime mecca, and about the surprising difficulties of reconnecting Brooklyn to its waterfront.
A few unusual construction obstacles
Because the marina is directly above the R train tunnel, it had to be anchored to the seafloor using a no-drill construction method. Builders submerged 160 enormous 10-ton concrete anchor blocks. Bungee-like cables connect from the blocks to the docks floating above.
If you’ve been following the marina project from its beginnings, you may notice when it opens May 1 the main dock will lack its much-anticipated community building — an open classroom and event space for locals and community partners to get involved. This isn’t due to an oversight, but a permitting issue with a city agency unaccustomed to marina construction.
“They couldn’t get over the fact that we were building in a floodplain,” O’Brien told Brownstoner with a hint of bemusement. “Even though it’s a building that floats.”
O’Brien says that they’re still working with the city to get the proper permits. If all goes according to plan, they’ll construct the building on a separate floating platform and tether it to the existing dock by the start of next summer.
Get ready for time at the community dock
With or without its shelter, the marina’s substantial community dock (it makes up about 25 percent of the dock space) still sounds like a boon for the public, offering a hub for free kayaking and sailing, in addition to a slip where anyone can put their own boats in the water.
“Touching the water is a relatively new thing in Brooklyn,” O’Brien told Brownstoner. “But there were a number of groups who just needed a place to launch.”
The marina is already partnering with Brooklyn Kayak Guides to expand their offerings in the park, and they’ve also teamed up with Brooklyn Boat Works, an after school program where kids build plywood sailboats by hand. The group used to have to launch their homemade boats in Manhattan because there wasn’t a dock available in the program’s home borough.
How the marina will make money
Two percent of the marina’s revenues go directly to the nonprofit running the community dock — that’s in addition to the anticipated $300,000 annual rent the marina will pay to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Where’s all that money coming from? Mega-yachts.
Beyond the community dock are dozens of rentable slips for boats ranging in size from 30 feet to 180 feet long. The companies behind the marina, co-owners Edgewater Resources LLC and Singapore’s SUTL Group, see a clear business opportunity in providing Brooklyn with dock space. New York City — even though it’s close to New England’s sailers — has fewer than 1,600 slips, while a city like Chicago has at least 6,000, Greg Weykamp, Edgewater’s president, told The Wall Street Journal.
And their bet is already paying off. In June, a big-time solo sailing race, the Transat, will end in New York Harbor with some of the world’s most tricked-out and technologically sophisticated watercraft coming to dock in Brooklyn’s shiny new marina.
For years, the city has treated the waterfront as a barrier rather than an amenity, closing off access and zoning these areas for industrial uses like manufacturing, shipping and storage. But as more parkland has opened along the city’s waterways, Brooklynites are rediscovering their beauty and recreational benefits. Now, we’ll have the opportunity to do even more here.