Until 2007, a towering, distintive icon of Red Hook was here and was so visible across the harbor that captain's used it as a navigation aid: the conical silo of the sugar refinery. The entire refinery was demolished that year, levelling an agglomeration of buildings that represented a century of industrial activity on site.
Saltpeter, soap, and sugar, in succession, were key products in the area south of Beard Street, known as the “Richards bulkhead area." By 1880, the land was developed and piers were extended into the Erie Basin. The first buildings were one-story brick warehouses for storing cargo.
Sometime between 1880 and 1885, Pier A, which extended out from the land, was covered with a wooden shed. Around 1886 a five-story brick-and-stone warehouse was built.
In 1886, a saltpeter works operated on part of the site (saltepeter is a key ingredient in gun powder.) By 1915 Soap-making had replaced the saltpeter operation.
Also operating on the site in 1915 was The American Molasses Company. The company shipped in and refined raw sugar. By 1931 the profitable business had expanded to fill the entire property.
American Molasses used the original buildings on the site, storing its raw sugar in bags in the low warehouses and using the five-story building for various purposes, including barrel making. To this it added a refinery and other more modern structures.
The American Molasses Company was acquired by the Sucrest Sugar in the 1950s. It is by that name that many remember the place because even after the property was rebranded as Revere Sugar in the 1970s, the Sucrest name remained on much of the equipment. Revere is shortened from The Paul Revere Sugar Company of Boston was aquired by Sucrest Sugar. According to an article in a 2018 article on redhookwaterfront.com, Sucrest sold its Revere plants in 1977 to Antonio Floriendo, a major banana grower in the Philippines and a close crony of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. Revere Sugar's presence in Red Hook was short-lived. It went bankrupt in 1985 and the plant was abandoned. The site was ravaged by fire in 1999. [See photo by Captain Tom Teague]
For much of its history, the operation was the same: raw sugar delivered by ship was unloaded into bins on the west side of the pier. A conveyor then carried the sugar up to a storage tower to await refining.
In 1991, Thomas R. Flagg documented the historical significance of the site (Cultural Resource Evaluation: Revere Sugar Site) and the major role sugar had played in Brooklyn industry. He noted, that its 19th-century pier shed was the last of its kind in the New York Harbor.
The shed was torn down in 2006. Still standing, however, is the nearby Brooklyn Clay Retort and Fire Bricks Works Storehouse at 76 - 86 Van Dyke Street, built in 1859. Until the early 1930s, the factory produced fire proof products from clays of the Arthur Kill area. The building was then used by American Molasses.
Thor Equities bought the property in 2005 and soon set about demolishing the diverse array of structures on site and had the sunken lightship removed.
Over the years, Thor Equities announced multiple plans for the site: a BJ's Wholesale Club store, an NYU dormitory, and others. In 2016 Thor Equities announced its plans for "Red Hoek Point," two heavy-timber frame buildings designed by Norman Foster with 23,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and more than 795,000 square feet of office space.
In early 2019, Thor Equities announced that "Red Hoek Point" was not happening and that a last-mile, e-commerce warehouse would be built instead. Given the number of ideas that Thor has floated for the site since 2005 and the number of last-mile, e-commerce warehouses being planned for Red Hook at this point (4), there was a lot of doubts that this plan would be executed; but in fact it is. By 2020, mutiple last mile, ecommerce warehouses were under construction in Red Hook. This site will be used by Amazon, along with one directly east of IKEA.