Could the SS United States Become a Multi-Use Complex in Brooklyn?

A report says that a Brooklyn businessman would let the iconic ship dock in Red Hook rent-free, where it could eventually become offices, a theater, a museum and much more.

ss united states

Photo: Laura Kicey

It looks as though the SS United States may have found a savior to ferry it to safety, and it could very well be trading its view of the IKEA in South Philly for a similar site in Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Paper’s Lauren Gill is reporting that John Quadrozzi Jr., a concrete magnate from Red Hook, would let the famed and decaying ocean liner dock at his Gowanus Bay Terminal completely rent-free.

Quadrozzi’s plan isn’t merely about safely mothballing the legendary boat, not by a long shot. Here’s more from Gill:

His pitch is to gussy up the gutted vessel’s 12 decks — which span 13 football fields worth of space — and fill them with offices for start-ups, a gym and swimming pool, eateries, a theater, a maritime school, and a maritime museum. The ship would be self-sustaining, he claims, converting waste to energy and harnessing solar and wind power.

Fittingly, the terminal is adjacent to the site that houses IKEA’s Brooklyn location, so it all could come full circle for the SS United States in the end, as it’s long been a fan favorite for those enjoying a bite to eat at the South Philly IKEA’s cafeteria in Pennsport.

The plans in Red Hook are estimated to cost between $50 million and $200 million, and the SS United States Conservancy, the owners of the ship, are mulling their options between Quadrozzi’s vision, an “undisclosed” location in Manhattan and just straight up scraping the world record holder for the fastest trans-Atlantic boat trip.

It would cost $2 million to tow the boat up to the site in New York, and Gill says that Quadrozzi “won’t foot the bill himself,” but would let it dock at his pier rent-free (a major cost here in Philly at $60,000/month) while the details get hashed out. “[B]oth he and the conservancy say they are in the midst of talks with donors, developers, investors, and government agencies to fund the endeavor,” reports Gill.

It’s really crunch time for those trying to save the ship. According to PhillyMag’s Dan McQuade, who also recently toured the ship, the Conservancy will hold a grand fundraiser on October 29 at the Union League to try and raise the last-minute funds. If it can’t be done, the date of October 31st has been chosen as the strong deadline for deciding whether it will be sold for scrap. A recent statement from the Conservancy says it all: “The Conservancy has never been closer to saving the SS United States, nor so close to losing her.”

Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first proposal hoping to save the SS United States to come out of Brooklyn. In 2014, McQuade reported again that it could swap Philly for BK, with another proposal floating around to convert the ship into a hotel for the Harrah’s Casino in nearby Chester Waterfront. Clearly, neither one of those plans came to fruition.

Representatives from the Conservancy could not immediately be reached for comment, and Gill reports that they hope to make a decision by “early November.”