Was the Staten Island Ferry Sale a Joke?
Did You Hear the One about a Staten Island Ferry, Two Comedians, an Architect & a Night Club Owner?
Updated January 26 from 1/24/2022 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC News / Staten Buzz NYC.
Weather. The temperature highs will be within about 5 degrees of 30 throughout the week, except on Tuesday when it will be in the low 40's. The temperature lows will be between 20 and 30 degrees, except on Wednesday, when it will drop to 12 degrees. The winds will be 5 - 10 mph Monday & Tuesday, rising to 10 - 15 mph on Wednesday, before falling back to 5 - 10 mph Thursday & Friday. Humidity will be 50% - 70% on Monday, dropping to 50% - 60% on Tuesday, and then 40% - 50% on Wednesday & Thursday, before rising back to 50% - 70% on Friday. No precipitation is in the forecast until Friday afternoon / evening at which time it looks like we're going to get several or more inches of snow.
As the new year begins to unfold, we encounter a mixed bag of news that has already made it out onto the public stage. Let's start with the purchase of a de-commissioned Staten Island Ferry, the JFK. The photo above right was taken in January 2020, likely near the end of the JFK's life of ferrying passengers to and from Staten Island. You can see the 'JFK' in the upper right corner of the photo below the black circle and with a bit of glare obfuscating part of the 'F'.
They may be Laughing Now, but ...
SNL Comedians Pete Davidson & Colin Jost, Architect Developer & Contractor Ron Castellano and Night Club Owner Paul Italia Buy the JFK Staten Island Ferry Boat
Last week, after several rounds of bidding, a consortium of investors, including SNL Comedians Pete Davidson & Colin Jost; Architect, Developer & Contractor Ron Castellano; and Night Club Owner Paul Italia purchased a 2,100 ton de-commissioned Staten Island ferry boat - the JFK - for $280,100. The purchase prices was only $100 above the next nearest bid, after the price doubled during the bidding process - up from $125,000 - after the starting bid had to be lowered from $250,000 because of a lack of early interest.
At right are Pete Davidson [left] and Colin Jost [right] announcing their new acquisition on SNL's News update. This project is likely to get a fair amount of publicity given the fame of these two owners and Jost's famous wife and Davidson's famous girlfriend.
- CLICK here for the rest of our report on the Sale of the Staten Island Ferry to Colin Jost & Pete Davidson - including a brief history of prior Staten Island Ferry Sales.
Riding the JFK Ferry from Staten Island in 2020
I have ridden the JFK, which was commissioned in 1965, and named after a very charismatic president who was assassinated at the relatively young age of 46. On my first ride I remember wondering why riding this boat felt different, so I asked one of the crew members, who told me that I was riding the JFK, the oldest boat in the fleet. I took some photos, which I have found, three of which are included in this report [the first three boat photos]. The last two boat photos were taken on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 and added to this report.
The JFK was the oldest boat of the Staten Island Ferry fleet, and it was also the most pleasurable to ride. The 277 foot long, and 69 feet wide, boat was a joy to ride because of its ample proportions and its older, more stately fixtures. Why is it that it almost always seems that they built things so much better long ago?
Above and below right is a look up and down the length of the JFK ferry boat. You can see the minimalist nature of the design of the boat, which might be classified as Mid Century Classic.
What They're Planning to do with the 2,100 Ton Vessel
The consortium has two weeks [I believe from Thursday, January 20th, 2022] to move the huge boat from its berth at the Staten Island Ferry docks. One rumor floating around is that the JFK will be moved to a berth near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, where the group will begin working to convert it to a night club / comedy club / restaurant. The boat had a seafaring capacity of about 3,000 people and on land it could possibly be expanded - but no matter how you cut it, it's a huge venue. It remains unclear whether the boat will remain in Gowanus or be moved to some other location.
The two comedians, both from Staten Island, are also both romantically involved with some very famous actresses. Davidson is dating Kim Kardashian and Jost is married to Scarlett Johansson. All of whom will no likely be able to generate publicity for the project. And the role of the architect, developer and contract owner Castellano seems obvious, as does the role of the Night Club Owner Italia.
Above right is a photo of the JFK in January 2020, as I disembarked on the Manhattan side. Notice the smooth flowing wooden benches, harking back to an more friendly, communal, simpler age.
Below right is the JFK ferry, sitting in the docks at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George on Tuesday, January 25, 2022. Within the next week or two, it is expected that the consortium that purchased the ferry, will move the boat to another location where they will attempt to transform the huge vessel into a viable business venture.
A Very Brief History of Similar Past Efforts to Transform an Old Ferry Boat
It's worth mentioning that there have been others who have attempted something similar to what this brave band of entrepreneurs has just undertaken. A January 21, 2022 report in Curbed tells us that the Staten Island Ferry named Mary Murray was purchased in 1976 by someone planning to make it into a restaurant. In 2010, after rotting in New Jersey and then Newburgh, NY for 34 years, the Coast Guard had to step in when the boat started listing.
The Curbed rreport informs us of other decommissioned Staten Island Ferries which were purchased with various grand plans that eventually stalled. They include the Knickerbocker in the 1960's and the Miss New York in the 1970's. And they cited a couple of temporary successes elsewhere in the nation, but not with Staten Island Ferry boats in NYC.
Did You Hear the One About Two Comedians, an Architect & a Night Club Owner Buying a Ferry on Staten Island?
So did you hear the one about two comedians, an architect, contractor, developer and a night club owner? ... conspiring to refurbish an old boat, find a permanent home for a 2,100 ton behemoth and turn it into a viable business ... ???
It could be hilarious. It already is ... kind of.
There's no doubt about it, it's a crazy idea as both comedians have already said. But as musician, comedian, talk show host Oscar Levant once said,
"There's a fine line between genius and insanity."
That statement has since, been proven, genetically. There is a link. And these guys just might be crazy enough to make it work. But, regardless of the outcome, it's likely to be good fodder for SNL, raising awareness of Staten Island - and should they succeed - good for NYC.
At right is a photo of the JFK sitting at the docks in St. George on Staten Island. Notice just below the pilot house window, that the ship name has been removed, leaving a silver toned rectangle behind.
Have a nice week.