Bruce Brodoff Communications
Bruce Brodoff Communications
Waterfront to Sparkle With $5M Pier Project
By Roberto Santiago

Bay Ridge residents especially those interested in fishing were overjoyed yesterday to hear that a $5 million renovation of the 69th St. Pier begins next month.

And some business owners said it couldn't have happened at a better time.

"Finally, I can make some money from this bait shop," said Anastasia Emmanouilidis, co-owner of Chris 69th St. Bait N Tackle, at 58-A Bay Ridge Ave., upon learning that pier renovations will include fishing stations with built-in rod holders.

"People can buy their fishing stuff over here and later get their dry cleaning done over there," she added, happily pointing out that she also owns Mihail Cleaners right next door. "Business has been so bad. The city has helped my business."

According to the city's Economic Development Corp., which will oversee renovations, the 600-foot-long pier will also get new lighting fixtures, new benches, picnic tables, bicycle racks and an information kiosk.

And, according to Denise Virga, district manager of Community Board 10, the renovated pier will once again permit passenger-ferry service to lower Manhattan.

"Ferry service was the last thing the pier provided until it was shut down last year for safety reasons," said Virga, who said that the city also plans to spend $100,000 to build a "beautiful entrance" to the pier.

Bruce Brodoff, vice president of public affairs for the EDC, said that the renovated pier is projected to open by the end of next June, just in time for "The OP SAIL 2000 National Celebration for the Millennium," a six-day event in July 2000 that the city hopes will attract thousands of boats and visitors to its piers.

Vince Blandino, of Century 21's Calabrese Realty, which holds exclusive rental rights to a six-story luxury rental apartment building under construction on the corner of Bay Ridge Ave. and Shore Road across from the pier, predicts that the building's 21 apartments will sell out now that the renovation has been announced.

Rent for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a terrace that faces the water will go for $2,500 a month, he said.

"In terms of business development, the timing for this could not be better," Blandino said.

The dilapidated concrete pier, home to crooked light fixtures and roosting pigeons, and marooned 30 feet offshore, is closed off by a wire-link fence. A bilingual sign on the fence reads:

"Danger Keep Off. Access to the pier is hereby restricted due to hazardous conditions."

Bay Ridge residents Nancy Lauritiano, 68, and Lucy Raio, 71, who regularly stroll along the waterfront, said that they remember when the pier was a lively spot.

"A ferry to Staten Island used to run right there and I would take my kids on it," Lauritiano recalled. "I also used to fish with my kids off the pier. We never caught anything, but we fished."

Local fishermen John Thomas and Vincent Lo agreed that pier renovation will mean they will improve their chances of catching more striped bass, fluke and bluefish next year.

"It's always easier to catch off the pier," said Lo, who had just finished reeling in a large bluefish.

Bicyclist Jim Militello of Bensonhurst said that not only will fishing be better, but the renovation will bring a greater sense of joy to the waterfront.

The 69th St. Pier joins such recently renovated piers as the Louis Valentino Jr. pier in Red Hook. The project will be financed with $3 million from city capital funds and $2 million from the Brooklyn borough president's office.

Raio is thankful that the waterfront she has known for so many years may finally look good again.

"Being out here beats being in my backyard," Raio said.

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