Friday, June 6, 2008

Transit improvements coming (by IKEA)

How does the Red Hook neighborhood in Brooklyn get better transit improvements and a new park? By building a new IKEA! This NY Times article offers a brief synopsis of what IKEA will be doing to get shoppers to their box store without the use of a car:
Transportation options include free shuttles every 15 minutes from three Brooklyn subway stations — the Smith and Ninth stop on the F and G line, the Fourth and Ninth stop on the R, and Borough Hall — between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily; the B61and B77 bus lines; and a free water taxi from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan, running every 40 mi daily from 10 a.m. to 8:20 p.m. The store will deliver furniture in stock and will have a courier service for small items ($39 in Brooklyn or $49 within 70 miles of the store, for a 3-by-3-foot box, filled with as much or as little as you want).

While Red Hook will be getting these much needed transportation improvements (so people outside of the neighborhood can get there), IKEA has also decided that they need more parking. This Brooklyn Paper article discusses how they are adding more parking even before the store has opened:
The Scandinavian home-furnishings giant’s first New York City store will use the neighboring site of the former Revere Sugar refinery to handle any parking overflow from its own 1,400-car lot at least until Labor Day. Company officials didn’t disclose how many vehicles can be packed onto the dirt lot, but it is large enough to hold several hundred.

Company officials say the additional parking was added to meet demand, but also for a calming psychological effect on potentially frazzled customers.“The more spots you have, even if you don’t need them all, instill confidence in the customer that everything is going to run smoothly,” said Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth.

In an old industrial neighborhood that lost more than 50% of its popluation between 1950 and 1990, where 70% of the population lives in public housing, and where the annual median income is $9,500, is IKEA the answer to this neighborhood's concerns and issues? The IKEA in Red Hook is NYC's way of building whatever they want in a neighborhood that does not have the political capital to say no. And while at least IKEA is not a marine transfer station or power plant, what benefits (other than traffic congestion, increased pollution, and crowded streets) are the neighborhood and residents really getting?

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