IKEA, the over-sized blue and yellow furniture colossus, is proposing to develop a 360,000 s.f store on the historic waterfront in Red Hook, Brooklyn. A store this size is bigger than even Wal-Mart builds them. Here’s a report from sprawl-busters in Red Hook who think IKEA is a bad idea: “The current zoning is M3-1 (heavy manufacturing).The project includes the rezoning of the area from a heavy manufacturing district (M3) to a light manufacturing district (M1). In addition, special permits are required including one to operate a furniture store in excess of 10,000 s.f. Red Hook is a mostly working class community with a significant public housing population, but is surrounded by the predominately middle-class communities of Carroll Garden and Cobble Hill. The community in Red Hook is pretty much divided on the issue between those in public housing who support it (jobs) and the homeowners who don’t (traffic). The IKEA reps have been playing the racial card from the get go. They’ve been handing out free IKEA knapsacks and water bottles in the public housing community and painting anyone opposing the project as a bunch of elitist, whiny white people.Residents are concerned about the high traffic volumes this store would bring. Counts from the Ikea Elizabeth, New Jersey store show 2000-3000 cars per hour during peak periods. This store is the second largest traffic generator in the state — Giant stadium is number one, but only on game day. We can assume similar or even higher volumes for a Brooklyn store. This site also has poor highway access. This site is a dead-end street located over a mile away from the nearest highway ramp. Access is horrible – it’s a series of narrow one-way streets through a residential neighborhood. As for land use, why would you ever locate a windowless big box store on the waterfront especially one that has no intention of barging in any freight? Plus allowing a commercial variance in a M3 zone would result in the loss of potential maritime development and would kick the door wide for future commercial developments- big box stores on the waterfront from Atlantic Avenue all the way to Erie Basin. The old domino effect. A maritime use like the FedEx transfer station would create jobs with very little traffic.”
For more background on why IKEA is a bad idea, and how they have been beaten, search this Newsflash page by the name of the company.