The new owners of the Greenpoint ferry landing have blocked the public from accessing the pier, which was built almost 10 years ago with the understanding that the public would have access to it.
On October 7th, two Australian companies—real estate developer Lendlease, and investment fund Aware Super—purchased the land on 1 Java Street for $110 million, which also includes the pier. The two companies are planning a $1 billion development on the site, including 800 apartments for rent, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Eleven days after the sale was recorded, NYC Ferry announced on its Twitter account that the new owners were restricting access to the pier. [UPDATE: NYC Ferry now says they plan on restoring service at 4 p.m. on Monday, See full update below.]
New Yorkers hoping to get on at the Greenpoint pier on Monday morning were greeted by a NYC Ferry employee telling them they had to find another stop.
Lendlease blamed the ferry company, Hornblower.
"We've had to temporarily restrict ferry access to the India Street Pier while we await the ferry service operator, Hornblower, to furnish appropriate insurance documentation, expected today," the company said in a statement. "We understand the inconvenience the ferry service disruption has caused and are working diligently to help resolve the situation as quickly as possible."
The city's Economic Development Corporation, a quasi-private agency that runs the city's ferry system with Hornblower, said they were working to restore service there as early as Tuesday morning. In the meantime, a shuttle bus will take riders who really, really want to ride a ferry, to the Hunters Point South stop in Long Island City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters on Monday morning that it was a "quizzical situation," that would hopefully be resolved soon.
In 2010, the EDC told developers in a request for proposals that the city wanted "a new pier structure that will allow for vessel moorage and provide local residents with safe and enjoyable access to the East River waterfront."
Stiles Properties LLC, the owner of the waterfront land, bought pier rights from the city for $60,000, which then gave them another 40,000 square feet of zoning rights for residential housing, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time. Stiles began rebuilding the pier, and then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the East River ferry service in June of 2011, with the Greenpoint stop using a temporary barge and gangway that collapsed in 2014.
De Blasio's expanded NYC Ferry system is highly subsidized by taxpayers despite its relatively small ridership—costing around $10 per ride, and $58 million a year. Like many other forms of mass transit, the ferry system has seen huge drops in ridership due to the pandemic. In the spring, ridership had dropped by 80 percent, and service was cut to 50% of 2019 levels.
According to the most recent ridership figures from the 2nd quarter of the year, the Greenpoint stop, which is on the East River route, had around 124 riders per weekday and 154 on weekends. The East River route as a whole saw 1,307 riders each weekday and 2,297 on weekends.
The week of June 22nd saw almost 70,000 riders on the entire ferry system; by comparison, the unsubsidized Citi Bike system saw more than 60,000 rides each day of that month.
[UPDATE / 3:55 p.m.] NYC Ferry tweeted that they intend on restoring service at 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon.