“Saturday Night Live” funnymen Pete Davidson and Colin Jost face choppy waters as they try to convert a retired Staten Island ferry into the Big Apple’s hottest comedy club – but they’re hoping for smoother sailing with Mayor Adams at the helm.
Comedy club owner Paul Italia, who is partnering with the two Staten Island born-and-bred stars, told The Post the group wants to partner with the Adams administration to help revive an underused city-owned pier and its surrounding neighborhood, adding they’ ve reached out to the city Economic Development Corp. to gauge interest.
“The dream would be to work with the city to bring back one of these piers and help out a community,” said Italia, who mentioned the East River waterfront in Manhattan as a possible landing spot.
Adams, who was famously portrayed by SNL’s Chris Redd in a Jan. 15 comedy skit, told Davidson and Jost on Twitter last week he “loved” their plans, adding “let us know how we can help and we’ll be there for the maiden voyage.”
An Adams spokesman on Friday said Hizzoner “looks forward” to someday “attending a show on the ferry” and believes the city needs “creative and efficient ways to revitalize our communities and grow our city’s economy.”
A City Hall source did confirm there was a “brief” preliminary discussion about both sides possibly teaming up.
Resurrecting the massive John F. Kennedy — which the group purchased at auction on Jan. 19 for $280,100 – is fraught with red tape and costly repairs and maneuvers, which most ferryboat owners in the past have failed to overcome.
Davidson and Jost’s first mission is to find a place to tow and dock the 57-year-old vessel, which has a non-working engine, by Friday, or face fines. It’s currently berthed on city property near the St. George ferry terminal.
They plan to hire two tug boats and tow the ferry to a yet-to-be determined pier in Brooklyn or Staten Island, where it will sit throughout the renovations until a permanent home is found. Davidson has mentioned Gowanus as a possible home.
Industry insiders said they should expect to pay roughly $100,000 to $150,000 a year to berth the 277-foot long, 2,109-ton vessel.
Beyond navigating navigate waves of bureaucracy to secure permits, licenses, and other approvals at various city and state agencies, the group should expect to shell out tens of millions of dollars to design and rebuild the interior into an entertainment venue; and install a sprinkler system, emergency exits and other additions to meet fire and safety codes, according to planners polled.
Despite the star-studded team’s best intentions, history is not on their side.
“We’ve seen so many people have these grand ideas with these old ferries, that they were going to turn it into a restaurant, that they are going to do this, that and the other thing with it — and it never really comes to fruition, and I don’t expect this one will either,” said Jim Brown, owner of a longtime marine towing firm on Staten Island.
Mark A. Ahasic, whose late dad sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars during the 1990s trying to reinvent a decommissioned ferry called the Verrazzano, said he wishes the SNL stars well but feels they’re taking on an “expensive hobby” that will be “ an uphill battle.”
He said his father, CA Mark Ahasic, initially eyed converting it into a Staten Island waterfront restaurant and catering hall and, when that failed, he briefly considered selling it to Donald Trump to use as a casino, but that didn’t work out either .
There were also plans to move the Verrazzano to Tokyo to operate as floating amusement park that went bust. Ahasic finally sold his stake in the vessel, which was left to rot on the Staten Island shore for years with a tree growing out of a toilet. It was later moved to a pier in Red Hook, Brooklyn, were it was scrapped about a decade ago.
Italia said his group has spared no expense tapping a dream team of naval architects, building architects, venue architects and other construction experts to ensure their plans don’t sink like the Titanic. He also said the JFK is still fully functional and in much better shape than many past retired ferries.
“If we sink this boat, it will be because we screwed up,” he said. “Maybe the people who were before us really didn’t put together the right team and didn’t go through great lengths to secure it.”