On Tuesday, May 8, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and local leaders announced plans to reactivate the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) as a major shipping hub with the Red Hook Container Terminal and Industry City, slated to operate as the Sustainable South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SSBMT), described as a vibrant cluster of maritime activity that will bring new industrial uses and add hundreds of jobs in the Sunset Park area.
President and CEO of Red Hook Container Terminal and designated operator of SSBMT Mike Stamatis told this paper about the plan.
“SSBMT presents a unique opportunity to expand upon and bring in different and new uses to the city such as offshore wind development,” he explained. “It would open up jobs and job training as part of a new and an exciting industry for local residents. It also gives us the opportunity to serve businesses that are here now that are having trouble finding places to do business.”
The lease runs through 2054. In all, 64.5 acres of the terminal would be reactivated, and over 900,000 metric tons of material would be moved annually through the port, eliminating over 11,000 truck trips a year. New uses for the facility include waste paper recycling and export; the importation of lumber, salt, and aggregate material; and container-on-barge operations, all of which will support local businesses, New York Harbor and the regional waterfront.
“This is really an exciting opportunity,” Stamatis added. “That hub has really been underutilized and dormant for such a long time and we’re excited that the EDC decided to maintain it as maritime facility because maritime facilities in New York City are in really short supply.”
“This is a victory,” agreed Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, one, he added, “that the community can feel because they have been part of this conversation through the Task Force that we set in motion back in 2015. There was a very contentious moment when I said, ‘Pause. We have to do it right.’ This made it all worth it.”
The City Council approved a long-term Master Lease between the city and NYCEDC in 2015 to activate an industrial maritime facility at the SBMT.
Jobs are a major selling point as over 250 quality positions are expected to be available in the near-term, with potential for significant growth further down the road.
“The people that work for us are the most important components,” said Stamatis. “Without having the people here, we can’t do what we do. As we develop the site, these new industries and tenants and cargoes that are moving in and out of the terminal are going to require skilled people doing these jobs. The creation of good paying jobs is one of our biggest goals for the long term. These various uses that we’re looking at with SBMT will be a strong driver towards that goal.”
“This is going to mean hundreds of jobs for the neighborhood, quality high-paying jobs,” Menchaca agreed. “We are at a time right now when the city has really turned to Sunset Park and said we want to invest in you. That’s also the result of that agreement in 2015.”
However, back in 2015, Sunset Parkers had raised concerns that traffic and pollution problems could result from the move.
With the new plan, those issues “are being addressed,” said Menchaca. In addition, he said, “We’re having better conversations about how we remove trucks from the streets. It’s not just going to mean less trucks for the city. It’s going to mean better trucks, smaller and sustainable like CNG trucks. Those are things we are exploring right now with SBMT. We are going to create a vehicular traffic plan that works for us and our neighborhood. That’s what we deserve as a community.”
“I commute into the city everyday and traffic and congestion has really been a problem everywhere,” Stamatis concurred. “SBMT can be part of the solution by reducing congestion, reducing pollution, reducing repairs on roadways and bridges through utilizing the waterways to go in and out of the city and creating distribution points. SBMT is part of a longer term solution for that problem.”
Borough President Eric Adams stressed the borough’s “rich history in shipping and maritime commerce.
“The reactivation of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal is key to my administration’s mission of reviving our working waterfront and creating hundreds of quality local jobs,” he said. “The sun is rising on a new day for Sunset Park, and I look forward to working with our community every step of the way as this new vision for the terminal is realized.”
“Sustainable South Brooklyn Marine Terminal will build on that legacy to advance the future of the New York Harbor,” added NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett, who called it, “A transformative maritime facility that will create new opportunities for industries, local businesses and New Yorkers.”
“SBMT can be a major part of America’s Marine Highway System,” said Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, who praised the jobs the facility will generate as well as its contribution to the environment. “As SBMT serves as an anchor for locally produced, offshore wind power,” she continued, “this initiative will help contribute to a more sustainable future, while further fueling job growth.”
“Establishing a home for the emerging offshore wind industry on our working waterfront is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” said Executive Director of Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation Ben Margolis. “And with a dedicated and trusted operator at the Red Hook Container Terminal and now in Sunset Park, we are able to more comprehensively utilize our industrial assets and plan for a resilient economic future.”