Engineering firm hopes to shape growth of Red Hook
by Patrick Kearns
Nov 22, 2016 | 1766 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AECOM CEO Chris Ward and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo Scissura discuss future development.
AECOM CEO Chris Ward and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo Scissura discuss future development.
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The head of a global engineering firm wants Brooklyn business leaders to get proactive in the future of South Brooklyn neighborhoods like Red Hook.

Development is coming, AECOM CEO Chris Ward told members of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce during a meeting at Metrotech Center on November 16, but currently there are numerous problems with developing the area.

One of the biggest issues is the lack of economic opportunity. Ward explained that the average household income in Red Hook Houses is just $14,000 annually.

“The resiliency of that community, to be able to maintain their lifestyle and their family on that level of income, to me is just incredible,” he said. “It needs to be addressed and we need to ask why that's an economic fact of life.”

Red Hook also lacks minimal public transit opportunities.

“You can't get to a job, and the lack of connectivity leads to social consequences in terms of poverty,” Ward explained.

Ward is proposing an extension of the 1 subway line, which terminates at South Ferry, by reviving the dormant 9 train, which ran along the same route, but have it split at Rector Street.

The line would theoretically add stations at Governor's Island, Atlantic Basin, Lorraine Street, and a connection with the F, G and R trains at a new station at Fourth Avenue and 10th Street.

AECOM estimates the project would cost $3.6 billion and take just under eight years to complete.

Another major barrier to growth is climate change, which is making waterfront communities more vulnerable.

“The rising sea level and storm surge, regardless of what Washington D.C. is doing, is a fact of life,” Ward said. “It calls into question how we will be able to connect, how we will able to utilize the water, and how economy is grown from the water.”

Ward explained his company is working on the $2 billion Lower Manhattan resiliency project, but said a separating Brooklyn from the waterfront may be necessary.

“You can come up with an incredibly varied way to deal with sea rise,” he said. “There are a whole variety of strategies: topographical changes, architectural changes, how we handle the infrastructure.”

AECOM is also interested in revitalizing forgotten areas, like under the Gowanus Expressway, with lighting and art.

While Ward says they haven't engaged developers yet, his company has four distinct proposals for the public to consider.

In-fill development, they believe, would add 6,623 new housing units, including 1,323 affordable units, 2.4 miles of coastal protection, 7.6 more acres of open space, and 2.1 miles of waterfront access. The same limited transit and job opportunities will exist.

A 25 million-square-foot development area would add 29,540 housing units (6,250 affordable) and 2.4 miles of coastal protection, but with more limited waterfront access and open space. It would also have limited transit options, but an estimated 2,500 new jobs and $50 million in annual revenue.

A 35 million-square-foot development area would add 39,540 housing units (8,750 affordable), 4.5 miles of coastal protection, 2.1 miles of waterfront access and 50 acres of open space. This proposal includes the three new subway stations and adds 8,750 new jobs and $90 million in annual revenue.

The final proposal calls for a 45 million-square-foot development area. It would add 49,540 housing units (11,250 affordable), preserve 3,065 existing affordable units, add 4.5 miles of coastal protection, 2.1 miles of waterfront access, and 100 acres of open space.

The final proposal includes the three new subway stations and adds an estimated 15,700 new jobs and $130 million in annual revenue.

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