Wednesday, June 18, 2008

IKEA by land and sea

So after going to IKEA in Brooklyn Monday ... I returned there Tuesday and then again this morning. Not exactly the most exciting of exciting things to do. I got to interview such luminaries as the President of Brooklyn (yeah, I also had no idea each borough had a President) and the North American president of Ikea (she was a lady from Denmark who seemed pretty nice).

See this whole IKEA thing in Brooklyn was a really big deal because a lot of people were opposed to having big box chain stores (a la Walmart, IKEA, etc) in the quaint, historic districts of the city. I totally agree with these people, atleast to a certain extent. IKEA shouldn't be able to just bust into an area and plant its gigantic blue and yellow footstep into the ground.

But here's my problem with the locals: after negotiating, IKEA made concessions such as making sure atleast 500 jobs at the store were held by people from the Red Hook neighborhood in Brooklyn, cleaning up the toxins around the area where the store was going to be, and refurbishing a dock so that people can take a water taxi (whose bill will be fronted by IKEA) to and from the South Street Port in Manhattan. They also added a little promenade for people to sit at and look towards the Statue of Liberty.

But these people aren't happy with the way the big blue warehouse called IKEA looks in comparison to the red brick nothingness that was there before. They dissidents towards projects like this think stores like IKEA will eventually drive people away from the area, with rent prices likely to go up. I understand the concern, but I'm also of the belief that business is business. Judging from the thousands lined up outside the place this morning, there's definitely a need for an IKEA in NYC. I know it sucks that your neighborhood is being transformed by one store, but sometimes life just isn't fair.

And anyways, from being around this area the past few days, it's not like we're up and destroying some legendary neighborhood like Greenwich Village or something along those lines. Red Hook had a ton of dirt lots and kind of junkyards that are scattered throughout Brooklyn.

Speaking of the dock IKEA built, on my way back to Manhattan after the grand opening this morning, I took the water taxi and it made me remember just how awesome traveling via boat is. I was sitting up on the top deck of the boat with my new $5 shades that I bought off some street vendor for real cheap. It was pretty awesome looking at all the various shores around New York, including the skyline of downtown Manhattan.

I will say, as I turned around to see Brooklyn's shore, the monstrous blue structure with the bold IKEA lettering looked a little out of place.

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