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Sunset Park waterfront doozy

By Daniel Bush

July 28, 2009

The dormant Sunset Park waterfront received a major jolt last week when city and federal officials gathered to announce plans for a $270 million industrial makeover.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared in Sunset Park July 20 alongside U.S. representatives Jerry Nadler, Nydia Velazquez, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and others to unveil the city’s “Sunset Park Waterfront Vision Plan.”

The city committed to investing $165 million in the project, which is intended to speed up the ongoing reactivation of Brooklyn’s working waterfront. The remaining $105 million will be paid for by a combination of federal, state and private funds.

Besides its cost, the other statistics surrounding the project are enormous.

Bloomberg said the plan would activate 3.5 million square feet of industrial space, add 22 acres of open space ,and reduce truck traffic in the region by an estimated 70,000 trips per year.

Most importantly, the plan would create 2,000 jobs over the next two years, and a projected total of 11,000 jobs over all, once the redesigned waterfront is fully operational.

“The Sunset Park Waterfront Vision Plan lays out a series of short and long-term steps to strengthen the area as a center for industrial growth,” Bloomberg said, according to prepared remarks, “through a series of investments aimed at bringing aging infrastructure to good repair, professionalizing maritime and rail service, and increasing and diversifying job-intensive industrial uses along the waterfront.”

The plan would redevelop Bush Terminal, modernizing the outdated industrial facility; reactive the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal; build the Bush Terminal Piers Park; and upgrade freight rail service, among other measures.

Bush Terminal would be refitted to accommodate Sunset Park’s existing industrial small businesses.

With an $80 million investment in industrial upgrades the city would reactive the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, where little work has taken place since the mid-1980’s.

A $37 million Bush Terminal Piers Park would add 22 acres of open space to the neighborhood. Plans for the park feature new pedestrian walkways, as well as “key corridors” at 35th, 43rd, 51st ,and 58th streets connecting the space to the Sunset Park neighborhood.

Finally, by funding key rail service improvements, and promoting the hauling of goods by barge, the city’s plan proposes to reduce truck traffic significantly, and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 5,000 tons per year. The plan also includes several green building features to further reduce pollution.

Elected officials praised the city plan for its broad scope and economic potential.

"Brooklyn is booming and the initiatives and projects outlined today will add to that boom,” said Markowitz. “I commend Mayor Bloomberg on his continued faith in, and attention to, the borough of Brooklyn."

"The Sunset Park Waterfront Vision Plan sets us on a promising path toward reviving and enhancing Brooklyn's waterfront," said Velázquez. "I look forward to working with the City to find ways to strengthen local small businesses and foster green jobs and industry."

Nadler in part seized the opportunity to voice his support for the Cross Harbor Project, a controversial proposal to connect rail services east of the Hudson to the rail system in New Jersey.

At the press conference Bloomberg spoke in favor of the project, a possible sign that it could be incorporated into the city’s long-term plans for the Sunset Park waterfront.