SALE-ING OUT OF RED HOOK. Firms want piece of port biz

THE RUBINO SISTERS watched in horror last weekend as tour buses from New Jersey rolled through Red Hook to pick up tourists off the swanky Queen Mary 2. The Sheepshead Bay sisters have run a bus company out of the gritty Brooklyn neighborhood for more than a decade - yet they weren't even given a chance to bid for the lucrative contract. "We're so close they wouldn't even have to use the phone for the dispatcher," quipped Mary Rubino, president of Trans Express, which boasts dozens of corporate clients such as banks and airlines. "They could have yelled over. We had 50 buses sitting right there." The Rubinos are one of many Red Hook business owners who say they feel left out of lucrative contracts at the just-opened $56 million Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. City officials have long promised the project would bring economic development to Brooklyn - but critics charge that so far, little has been done to get local businesses on the gravy boat. "It is totally outrageous," said Rep. Nydia Velazquez (DBrooklyn). "How can they come and make these announcements about how much the Red Hook community is going to benefit from this, and yet the community has never learned of the opportunities there?" Tony Roussos, who for more than 20 years has run Alpha Marine supplies, a ship provisioning firm located steps from the new terminal, just wants a chance to compete. "I'm not looking to get something for nothing," said Roussos, whose company supplies large ships with everything from cleaning materials to spare parts. "All I want is the opportunity to quote them a price. I would be happy just to supply this ship with all the light bulbs they use." Steve Tarpin, who bakes his sought-after Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies in Red Hook and was never asked whether he wanted to sell to Cunard Line, which operates the QM2, said the city needs to include more firms. "Someone should be here trying to facilitate these kinds of connections, and it's not happening," said Continue Reading


MORE THAN 350 kinds of cheese; 150 different olive oils; 85 kinds of fresh-roasted coffee - and more than 1,000 shoppers on its opening day. Brooklyn took another step closer to becoming Manhattan yesterday as the largest Fairway market yet opened its doors on a once-gritty pier in Red Hook. "Oh look, they have fresh pasta!" squealed Gina Mileo, 37, as she rushed giddily through the store. "I had it marked on my calendar because I had to be here," added the Park Slope native. "So far so good. I'm very impressed." Mileo was one of more than 1,000 curious shoppers who flooded the 52,000-square-foot converted Civil War warehouse on Van Brunt St. The food-lovers' fantasy was slated to open at 10:30 a.m., but staffers had to allow shoppers in early after a restless crowd of 200 gathered outside. "They were getting antsy," said co-owner Howard Glickberg. "Brooklyn is like this big untapped market in the food world." The Brooklyn Fairway is the fourth for the company, which includes outposts on the upper West Side and Harlem. Many of yesterday's customers were Brooklyn foodies who were happy they would no longer have to travel far for specialty items. Others were cost-conscious shoppers clutching circulars advertising grand-opening specials who came to see whether Fairway's boast of high quality at low prices was too good to be true. "I think it's beautiful, but I think it'll make you spend your last dime," said Amelia Ackies, 76, who arrived from Flatbush at 9 a.m. and was elated to find fresh jumbo shrimp for $5.99 a pound. "The prices are very good, but you know they're going to go up," said Ruth Carter, 73, who also traveled from Flatbush. Roy Isaac, 59, a retired janitor from Red Hook, admired the expansive meat case with his friend. "All the stores around here are going to have a problem," said Isaac. "This lunch right here is a deal," showing off a $5 half-chicken with rice and vegetables. Firefighters from Red Hook's Engine 202, who used to Continue Reading

FAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. Giant supermarket opens in Red Hook – and Brooklyn can’t wait

Think Trader Joe's is the supermarket story of the year? Fuhgeddaboudit: The big news is the 52,000-square-foot Fairway opening today on Brooklyn's lonely Red Hook waterfront. Part of an old Civil War-era warehouse - a five-story, 230,000-square-foot brick and cast-iron beauty at 480-500 Van Brunt St. - the specialty grocery will soon be topped by 45 luxury apartments, a restaurant and free offices for a few lucky local nonprofits. "One of the reasons we came here," says Howard Glickberg, whose grandfather opened the original upper West Side grocery in 1940, "is because we can't do this anywhere else." "This" also includes more than 300 parking spaces, Fairway's own power plant, an outdoor café and a public park and backyard boardwalk with knockout views of Lady Liberty. (The last two were stipulated by the city when Fairway bought the property nearly three years ago; they also recruited 170 of 300 new employees from the nabe.) A partnership between Fairway and Brooklyn developer Greg O'Connell, the $25 million project is the fourth and largest market for Fairway and the first development of its kind in this gentrifying but still low-income, low-density community. It's also the first specialty market of its size in Brooklyn - although a Whole Foods is in the works - and it's snazzy enough to thrill any serious foodie. Built around the old brick, arched windows and wood beams of the former coffee warehouse, the market has been a labor of love for Glickberg, who's running the show with his 22-year-old son, Dan, a recent college grad and Fairway's newest junior partner. Like the 74th St., Harlem and Long Island stores -which draw shoppers from miles away - this Fairway will be a showplace for yards of produce and goodies like cheeses, olive oils, house-made granolas, dried fruits, exotic grains and fancy jams, many hand-picked by Fairway's expert food buyer Steven Jenkins, author of "The Cheese Primer." In addition to paper products Continue Reading


NEARLY THREE months after a woman was killed by a driver leaving a massive new Red Hook grocery store, the city is studying whether Van Brunt St. needs traffic lights. Transportation Department officials plan to release the results of the long-awaited traffic count along the bustling thoroughfare by the end of the month. "It's long overdue, but at the same time we're hopeful they will finally address the issue," said John McGettrick, co-chairman of the Red Hook Civic Association. "The question now is how many of the improvements that we've requested will come to pass." McGettrick and others have been battling to have lights or stop signs installed in the once-sleepy neighborhood following the opening of Fairway market and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal last spring. There is only one traffic light - and no stop signs - along the 16-block stretch of Van Brunt, though there is a school at Wolcott St., just steps from where Janett Ramos was killed in July. "We need a light," said Linda Blue, PTA president of Public School 15. "Now that we have more traffic in the neighborhood, we want to make sure our kids are safe." Transportation Department traffic counters began the study last month after outraged Red Hook parents and advocates held protests on the issue this summer. "I recognize this issue's importance to Red Hook residents following this summer's tragic accident, and I am confident that by working with the community and completing its traffic study, DOT will make our streets safer," said Borough President Marty Markowitz, whose office has set up a meeting with community leaders and the DOT for later this month. Ramos, 45, of Sunset Park, was struck by a van July 6 just before 10 p.m. at Van Brunt and Wolcott Sts. She died two days later. [email protected] Join the Conversation: Continue Reading


FOUR TEENAGERS are shooting hoops on the Coffey Park basketball court, in the shadows of the Red Hook Houses in resurgent Red Hook, Brooklyn, when Earl and Raymond Hall walk up. Twenty minutes later more than a dozen teenagers are jostling and joking on the court, firing jump shots into the evening sky and needling the Hall brothers about their advanced age. Earl is 41, Raymond, 43. "They challenge us all the time," Raymond said with a laugh. "But they really appreciate us being around. " The Halls' presence turns the court with the breakaway basketball rims they had installed ("Those rims let them dunk the ball without getting hurt," Raymond explains) into a rubberized magnet for the young men and women of the Red Hook Houses - a community that has a history of drugs and violence. For 13 years, the Halls have used Coffey Park as the center for several programs they created to give Red Hook youth alternatives to life on the mean streets - streets they had known in their youth, when drugs and violence were all too common. Starting in 1994 with a touch football league funded out of their own pockets, the brothers - with generous donations from local businessmen and others - have held a Books and Basketball program for the past few summers as part of the community group they formed, Red Hook Rise. The 10-week Books and Basketball program is held during summer when most young people are out of school. Players ages 7 to 12 take turns reading aloud from a book before and after each game. Parents and coaches read as well. Red Hook Rise furnishes the books, which are often sports-themed, such as a biography of NBA superstar Alan Iverson, which they read last summer. "We wanted them to see that it's great to want to be a professional basketball player, but you can't do it without academics," Raymond said. "We don't start the game until everyone has read something. " The Halls recruited local businessmen, National Basketball Association players and Continue Reading

Deal ends port standoff. $20M worth of cocoa can unload in Red Hook

BROOKLYN chocoholics, rest easy. Workers are slated to unload $20 million of cocoa today from a ship that has been stranded off the Brooklyn waterfront for more than a week. The truce brings to an end a bitter standoff between the Port Authority and Brooklyn's last working port - which Brooklyn officials said could have cost about 75 union jobs. "We're really happy. It was gloomy before, but now we have some hope," said Crown Heights warehouse worker Ian Forde, who has four kids, including a 6-month-old. "People were jumping when they found out. They were smiling." American Stevedoring, which runs the Red Hook Container Terminal, charged last week the Port Authority refused to find warehouse space at the port for the ship's 250,000 sacks of Ivory Coast cocoa. American charged the move was part of a plan to squeeze the port off the borough's valuable waterfront. In recent years, the Port Authority has cut the port by 25% and won't renew its lease when it is up next year. The city wants to turn the piers into a tourist destination, complete with a marina, shops and a brew pub. Port Authority officials accused American of "mismanagement," saying the company should not have allowed the boat to arrive if they didn't have room in its warehouses for the cocoa. But yesterday, the Port Authority agreed to rent Pier 6 directly to the shipping company - which has been losing $30,000 a day from the delays - through the end of May. There are six other cocoa boats on their way. "We're not working with American on this issue," said Port Authority spokesman John McCarthy. "We have proffered the offer directly to the shipping company." American officials were glad a short-term solution was reached but said the port's future is still up in the air - and its total of 623 jobs. "The broader question still exists," said Matt Yates of American. "What will happen with those 623 jobs at the port if the Port Authority's current policy is maintained?" Rep. Jerrold Continue Reading


IT WAS BECAUSE of Geophrey the iguana that Red Hook resident Matt LaDuca came upon what's likely one of Brooklyn's few remaining links to the Revolutionary War. LaDuca discovered what historians believe to be a 230-year-old cannon shot while digging a grave for the pet in the backyard of his Coffey St. apartment. "I know you can go to Gettysburg and dig up musketballs, because over there they're a dime a dozen," said LaDuca, 35. "But in Red Hook? I don't know." Local historian John Burkard believes the cannon shot was likely used to fend off British troops during the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776. The battle was the first major engagement after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. And because of Red Hook's proximity to the Buttermilk Channel, soldiers built Fort Defiance not far from where LaDuca found the three-pound ball. "That cannon shot is the only connection between Fort Defiance and today," said Burkard, the neighbor LaDuca consulted first about the artifact. "We don't have any artifacts like this in Red Hook still in existence. That's why it's so valuable, so much of a prize." Although LaDuca found the ball in August, it was only last month that Fort Hamilton Harbor Defense Museum director Paul Morando inspected the antique artillery. He determined it was similar in size, shape and weight to other cannon shots made at the time. "In all likelihood, it's probably a cannon shot or shell from the Revolutionary War," confirmed Morando. The ball would be a boon for Morando's collection - and Brooklyn in general. Burkard suggested that artifacts such as the cannon shot could be taken to local schools to show the students the direct connection between their communities and the Revolutionary War. "If they did teach this stuff, it would give some of the kids here something to be proud of," said Burkard, who said as a child he never learned about the Battle of Brooklyn. "They could proudly say: 'I'm from Red Hook.' " Continue Reading

Federal agents find $12 million worth of cocaine inside shrimp at Red Hook Terminal

Federal agents have discovered a new delicacy from Guyana — shrimp coketail. A drug-sniffing dog noticed something fishy about a shipping container that arrived at the Red Hook Terminal from Guyana last week and hunted down 268 kilos of cocaine stuffed inside frozen shrimp, according to a complaint unsealed Wednesday in Brooklyn Federal Court. The whale of a catch has an estimated street value of more than $12 million. The agents secretly removed the coke-filled crustaceans and tailed the container after it cleared customs on June 15, according to U.S. Homeland Security special agent Ryan Varrone. The container was delivered to an unidentified warehouse in Brooklyn on Monday where agents spotted Heeralall Sukdeo “together with others … organizing and supervising the unloading” of the shipment, the complaint states. Sukdeo, 59, the owner of Sukdeo Sons Fishing, a shipping company based in Queens, was arrested, but said he was innocent of any wrongdoing. “Sukdeo stated that he was present only in the vicinity of the truck containing the target shipment because he was curious about its contents,” Varrone stated in the complaint. The shipment had originated in Guyana and was addressed to “Randolph Fraser” which is apparently Sukdeo’s alias, an employee told the feds. Sukdeo was ordered held without bail. Defense lawyer Andre Travieso said Sukdeo has never been arrested before. “I’m pretty confident that when all the facts come out, this was just a huge mistake,” Travieso told the Daily News, insisting that his client did not order the drug-crusted shrimp. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Man’s body found in water off Red Hook

The body of a man was fished out of the waters off Red Hook Saturday afternoon, officials said. The unidentified victim, who is believed to be in his 50s, was found floating near Pier 9 at the Red Hook Container Terminal near Van Brunt and Degraw Sts. at about 5:30 p.m. A Port Authority security guard saw the man floating in the water and called the NYPD’s Harbor Unit, which pulled the body out of the water. An autopsy was slated for Sunday. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: Peek inside a Red Hook shipping repair factory reborn as hip office space

A Red Hook building long used as a factory for repairing and manufacturing parts for ships is the latest in a string of Brooklyn industrial facilities to be repurposed as create office space. The Golten Marine building, at 160 Van Brunt St., still has an industrial look, with exposed structural beams and vast open space, but the ship-building equipment has been replaced with sleek office furniture - and the building's been outfitted with the latest in modern technology in a bid to attract tenants in technology or other creative industries. "More and more, we're seeing tenants in the innovation sector drawn to spaces that can inspire them and motivate their team," said Aaron Lemma of PWR, the developer of the building. "They're drawn to spaces with character that get them into the creative mindset." The 98,650-square-foot building is now available for lease, Lemma said. He declined to specify the asking rent, but rents for top notch spaces typically rent for around $30 to $40 a foot in the neighborhood, a significant discount to similar space in Manhattan, sources said. Golten Marine operated out of the space for nearly three-quarters of a century, reconstructing the engines of stranded ships and tankers. The facility officially closed its doors last year, citing a slowdown in the New York shipping industry. PWR quickly swooped in, buying the building for a cool $21.5 million. "You would almost think you're in a hanger, the space is so vast," Lemma said. PWR is making a habit of reinventing Brooklyn industrial facilities as chic office space. The company recently signed a couple of hip creative tenants, including shared work space provider and online annotation company Genius Media, to a formerly abandoned building it repurposed at 92 Third St. in Gowanus. Continue Reading