The SS United States may soon have a permanent home in Brooklyn, thanks to a developer who has stepped forward and offered to turn the ocean liner into a multi-use development in Red Hook. The current owners were on the verge of selling the massive ship for scrap, as they could no longer afford to house the vessel in Philadelphia. The historic ocean liner is touted as being one of the greatest in American history, having sailed back and forth between the United States and Europe countless times in the 1950s and 1960s, setting the standing speed record for an Atlantic Ocean crossing. Soon, the ship could be moved to Brooklyn where it would take on a whole new occupation.
John Quadrozzi Jr. is the concrete magnate who owns the Gowanus Bay Terminal, and the Brooklyn Paper reported that he is offering the ship a rent-free space in Red Hook. The idea has been kicked around for a while and now, and as the deadline for moving the ship looms, the project might actually come to fruition. Quadrozzi’s vision involves transforming the ship’s 12 decks into usable spaces for all kinds of things, including office space, museums, and a maritime school. “I can’t say enough how exciting it would be to be a part of getting this ship sited in this area of Red Hook,” Quadrozzi told the Brooklyn Paper. He says the ship would also be an example of sustainable, green development by “converting waste to energy and harnessing solar and wind power.”
Moving an ocean liner is no small feat, and the cost to convert the ship according to Quadrozzi’s concept could be as much as $200 million. It would also take close to $2 million to tow the vessel from its current home near an IKEA store in Philadelphia to the Red Hook terminal. It’s currently costing $60,000 per month to store and keep up the ship, so any next move is going to require a big investment.
Red Hook isn’t the only alternative to the scrap yard for the largest ocean liner ever built in the United States. The current owner – the SS United States Conservancy – has other options, such as an undisclosed location in Manhattan and, of course, the scrap yard. The organization has been hard at work raising funds for the ship’s future, in hopes of saving it from being junked, but crowdfunding efforts have fallen short. The owners will have to decide by early November whether the Red Hook project is viable, or if it’s time for this historic ocean liner to be laid to rest.
Images via SS United States Conservancy