The South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) is now up for grabs. On Thursday, November 5, Maria Torres-Springer, head of the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC), announced that the agency is seeking bidders for a 39-year lease on the currently unused waterfront site in Sunset Park.
“The 72-acre South Brooklyn Marine Terminal is the only maritime site in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island with direct access to rail, making it a vital component of the city’s manufacturing and waterfront infrastructure and a location primed to open waterfront access to businesses throughout New York City,” Torres-Springer told AN.
The reactivation of the port is in line with the city’s 197-A plan and the 2009 Sunset Park Waterfront Vision Plan, which looks for ways to update the area’s “antiquated industrial infrastructure and develop Sunset Park into a 21st century model for diverse, dense and environmentally-sustainable industry.”
Earlier this year, a scuffle between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council—specifically councilman Carlos Menchaca who reportedly lost his place as co-chairman in the Brooklyn Democratic Party as a result—nearly killed the proposal to revive the terminal. Adjustments, such as cutting down the original 50-year lease and agreeing to redirect five percent of the site’s rental revenue to a community fund, allowed the groups to reach a compromise and move forward.
New York City’s economic health is reliant on transporting goods and, according to the EDC, efficiencies of scale are crucial due to the large size of the port and metro region. In 2014, the Port generated over $21.2 billion in personal income and $53.5 billion in business income. Due to the SBMT’s easy access to rail, the city expects that even as activity grows, moving cargo directly from barges to trains can reduce traffic congestion. One barge can hold the equivalent of up to 58 trailer trucks and one rail car can hold the equivalent of up to four trucks. Shifting cargo to a barge and rail system also comes with environmental benefits. According to the EDC, one gallon of fuel can move one ton of cargo 514 miles by boat and 450 miles by train, compared to 59 miles by truck—statistics that factor into the city’s sustainability agenda as well.
The EDC will be releasing a Request for Proposals in the upcoming weeks and subsequent time lines will depend on the tenant and negotiations.