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Port Authority nixes rumors of Red Hook Container Terminal redevelopment

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The agency will issue a Request for Proposals to keep the cargo terminal in operation for the next five years

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UPDATE: Looks like the Port Authority won’t be selling the Red Hook Container Terminal any time soon. Crain’s reports that the agency is in the process of drafting a Request for Proposals (RFP) that will be released in August for bidders who will continue to the facility’s operation as a cargo terminal for the next five years.

While selling the site still stands as a possibility for Port Authority in the future, the agency must first work through the “politics and logistics” of a potential sale.

“The pending RFP is not inconsistent with the agency's long-term interest in monetizing the Red Hook Container Terminal,” a spokesperson told Crain’s.

Local officials, including Brooklyn congressman Jerry Nadler, one of those most opposed to selling the terminal are pleased with the decision.

“A commitment by the Port Authority for continued container and barge operations at the Red Hook Container Terminal is great news for Brooklyn and the region in terms of environmental protection, job creation, resiliency, homeland security and removing trucks from congested city streets," said a spokesman for Nadler.

However, Regional Planning Association president Tom Wright says that the RFP sends “mixed signals” since the news came while the agency is still in the midst of developing a master plan for the site.

Could the Red Hook Container Terminal eventually be redeveloped? That’s a question that was raised this week, as Port Authority chairman John Degnan revealed that he is open to selling the 80-acre shipyard. During the Crain’s 2017 Real Estate Conference, he brought up the idea, noting that, “I know there are political difficulties in the state and city of New York to doing it, but the Port Authority would be enormously benefited.”

Local officials, however, aren’t so enthralled with the idea; Brooklyn congressman Jerry Nadler has argued that the terminal provides much-needed jobs while also boosting the city and the state environmentally by allowing cargo to land in Red Hook via ship and not by truck.

This is hardly the first time that a sale of the Container Terminal has been proposed: Back in 2011, former Port Authority executive director Chris Ward also proposed developing the terminal, stating that shipping containers have no place in Red Hook. The Citizens Budget Commission has also recommended selling the money-losing terminal, and just last year, AECOM proposed building a enormous megaproject, with more than 45,000 apartments and a subway extension, on the site.

But things are far from set in stone. A Port Authority spokesman told Crain’s that the agency is currently preparing a 30-year-master plan that will be released during the first quarter of 2018 and will detail ways to “optimize land utilization... and enhance revenue opportunities.” The plan will make recommendations for the best uses of the site, which could potentially involve putting it up for sale.