Proposed Norman Foster-Designed Red Hook Office-Retail Complex Still Just Piles of Dirt


In the summer of 2016, construction plans were filed for an ambitious waterfront office complex located at 270 Richards Street in Red Hook, designed by famed British architectural firm Foster + Partners, whose founder is Pritzker Prize-winning architect Norman Foster.

The plan was to bring 45,103 square feet of offices, stores and eateries — not to mention a whole lot of parking — to the waterfront area. The project was dubbed Red Hoek Point. They also called for two five-story “heavy timber-frame” buildings, a cutting-edge wood-frame construction method that was recently used for two mixed-use buildings in Williamsburg but remains unusual for projects in New York City.

But since developer Thor Equities announced the project in 2016, little has happened. And it turns out the delay might signal significant changes in the project.

red hook norman foster

Thor Equities, which recently received an inquiry from a potential industrial tenant, is still deciding between offices and industrial use for space, a source close to the project told Brownstoner. If the developer goes with industrial for the property, they will reassess Foster’s design and the plan to use heavy timber-frame construction.

The decision will “happen sooner rather than later,” the source said.

Meanwhile, an application for a new-building permit that was initially filed in 2016 was approved on Tuesday. However, the Department of Buildings has yet to issue any new-building permits for the site. Nick Zigomanis of Adamson Associates Architects remains the architect of record.

red hook norman foster

When Brownstoner last checked in on the project in January 2017, trucks and cranes were busy moving piles of dirt around the project under a light dusting of snow.

And when we stopped by the site Thursday, not much had changed. Ground has not yet been broken, but there were a few workers on site operating machinery. The piles of dirt appeared to have shifted slightly.

The Revere Site in 2007. Photo by Kate Kate Leonova via PropertyShark

The Revere Sugar site in 2007. Photo by Kate Kate Leonova via PropertyShark

Thor Equities purchased the site in 2005 for $40.52 million. It was previously home to the Revere Sugar Factory, which Thor demolished with the intention of building a mall on the site.

The developer is also behind the new retail building, the future home of a Chase branch, that replaced the Salvation Army store at 180 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg.

In February 2018, local residents voiced concerns at a community board meeting about possible hazards of the dirt piles on the site and the possibility that Thor would flip the property, according to Bklyner. Fox Rothschild land-use attorney Eric Knowles, who was present at the meeting, denied it.

In June, Thor received a $30 million loan for the property, public records show.

Despite its location, on a pier sandwiched between Ikea and Fairway, this part of Red Hook is still relatively quiet. The complex, if completed, could potentially bring more than a thousand more workers into a neighborhood that has few transit options and remains a sleepy enclave.

norman foster red hook

Rendering via Thor Equities

But maybe all of that is about to change? In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo signaled his support for Hudson Yards-style development of Red Hook in a State of the State address, which means a considerable transformation of the neighborhood might be on the horizon.

In 2017, engineering firm AECOM proposed a scenario in which city- and Port Authority-owned land would be sold to private developers and the 1 train extended from the Rector station in lower Manhattan into Red Hook.

Residents were largely against AECOM’s proposal. “We’ve seen this before,” Janet Andrews, community organizer for the New York City Council who works for local City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, told Brownstoner in 2016.

[Photos by Craig Hubert except where noted otherwise]

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