Monday, October 02, 2006

Ikea to Red Hook Critics: Go Ektorp Yourselves

Red Hook Ikea Site

Apparently, Swedish retailer Ikea--which is building a huge new store on the Red Hook waterfront--is not impressed with pleas that it save a graving dock on its property rather than turn it into part of its parking lot. The retailer has been steadfast in sticking with its plans and has rejected alternate proposals to build a parking garage. Ships have been serviced at the graving dock since the 1860s and it was a functioning repair facility until Ikea took over the former Todd Shipyards property and shut it down.

The new Carroll Gardens Courier reports that Ikea's spokesperson pooh-poohs criticisms and suggests that the negative feedback is coming from outside New York.

Say Ikea's Joseph Roth:
While we certainly appreciate feedback from individuals in Vermont, California and Denmark about our plans for a store in Brooklyn, we are continuing to move forward on the development of our thoughtful, well-designed project that earned near unanimous approval from the New York City Council, enjoyed the backing of the Red Hook Houses Tenants Association and thousands of Red Hook residents, and was supported by more than 25,000 Brooklynites who signed petitions, submitted postcards of their own, and wrote personal letters to their elected officials urging them to approve the Ikea Brooklyn store.
Those who support saving the graving dock are sending Ikea postcards that say, "I…urge you to keep this valuable, viable maritime asset in operation. Build the store, keep the shipbuilding/repair facilities our neighborhood has had since the Civil War, and keep its jobs! It’s a clear win-win!"

We have many things to say about Ikea's offensive brush off of legitimate concerns, but will limit ourselves to a few: First, it's bad PR to broadcast blatant disregard for the community in which you are building. There are legitimate divisions of opinion regarding the Ikea Red Hook. There are strong critics that object to Ikea's location. There are strong supporters who welcome it. There are an awful lot of people in between, who don't think that a few compromises--like saving the graving dock--are so out of line.

We have nothing against Ikea, per se. We have dealt with execs at existing Ikea locations and have found them to be decent and community-minded people. On the whole, we find Ikea's corporate behavior less troubling than, say, Wal-Mart and other huge firms, but we think Ikea's position on the graving dock is wrong and its attitude is nothing short of arrogant. (We'll leave aside its brutish demolition of historic buildings, of which we're not big fans either.)

Ikea may be coming to Brooklyn, but Gowanus Lounge won't be rushing to purchase any of its assemble-with-that-infuriating-little-wrench furniture at its "thoughtful, well-designed project."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

people are complaining now, but after it opens the damn borough will be shopping there.

11:11 PM  

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