Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ikea Sued Over Plan to Fill Red Hook Graving Dock

Just when we were thinking that the Red Hook development front had been very quiet of late (with rumblings of demolition trucks spotted on the Revere Sugar property and speculation about whether Ikea had started filling the historic Graving Dock on its property), we got word from the Municipal Arts Society that it had filed a lawsuit that could preserve the latter.

(Background: The Swedish big box retailer is planning to build a huge store on the Red Hook waterfront. It has demolished all of the buildings of the former Todd Shipyards, including a number dating to the Civil War era. Advocates have been arguing that Ikea should save the Graving Dock, not as a historic relic, but as a working facility. They have been rebuffed by the big retailer.)

The MAS--which is not exactly litigation crazy and always prefers talking to unleashing the lawyers--is suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to force "a legally-mandated review of historic resources at the Ikea site in Red Hook, Brooklyn." The only surviving "historic resource" on the site, of course, is the Graving Dock. Ikea wants to fill it for part of its parking lot. (It would leave some historic markers and the cranes as landscaping elements.)

Says MAS President Kent Barwick in a statement: "For nearly two years, the Corps has said that civic groups and others would be allowed input and comment on demolition and construction plans at Red Hook. That time never came and we are left with no alternative but legal action. The law requires a proper historic review, and the public deserves it."

The National Historic Preservation Act requires "a full and fair review of the effects of the Ikea project on all historic properties in the area, including the dock itself," according to the MAS.

The massive Graving Dock dates to the 1860s that supporters say is both historic and a functioning part of the city's maritime infrastructure. The 710-foot ship repair facility is one of only two docks in New York Harbor that can accommodate large, tall ships. The MAS has previously proposed alternate designs that would meet Ikea's parking needs and allow preservation of the Graving Dock.

Related Posts:
Ikea to Critics: Go Ektorp Yourselves
Red Hook Graving Dock Future: Ikea Parking Lot?

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