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‘Industry’ slowdown: Leaders of Sunset Park’s commercial City delay efforts to rezone complex amid pushback

Halted: Industry City leaders agreed to postpone the public-review process for their request to rezone the complex, bowing to pressure from locals and pols who demanded they pump the breaks on the scheme.
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This industrial revolution will have to wait.

The owners of Industry City delayed the public-review process for their recently filed request to rezone the massive complex, bowing to pressure from local lawmakers and civic gurus who demanded they pump the brakes on the scheme.

“In consideration of the request made by our councilman and community board, Industry City has agreed to postpone public review of the proposed rezoning of the property,” Industry City spokeswoman Lisa Serbaniewicz said on Monday.

The commercial complex’s Chief Executive Officer Andrew Kimball last month filed an application with the city to begin the rezoning, which he and other honchos seek in order to add more than 25 football fields’ worth of space — including a pair of hotels with more than 400 rooms — to the 30 acres the complex already occupies as part of a billion-dollar, more than decade-long plan, according to reports.

But weeks later, Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) and local Community Board 7 Chairman Cesar Zuniga together penned a March 6 letter to Kimball, demanding he delay the public-review process for the scheme to rezone the site spanning 30th–36th streets between Second and Third avenues, which is required as part of the lengthy Uniform Land Use Review Procedure the application must pass before any work can begin.

The local leaders alleged that the community board is not yet ready to officially weigh in on the scheme — which requires the panel to hold a public meeting about the proposal, vote on it, and then submit a purely advisory written recommendation to the City Planning Commission within 60 days of the agency’s certification of the rezoning application — because its members are in the midst of addressing “concerns about displacement and gentrifica­tion,” which would prevent them from voting on the rezoning within the required time frame.

Menchaca and Zuniga also listed several tasks they want to accomplish before the formal public review commences, including:

• Getting answers from Industry City reps about how the rezoning proposal will mitigate “displaceme­nt, gentrification, rising rents, congestion, and the effects of climate change.”

• Conducting a “community-based needs assessment” focused on the waterfront.

• Allowing Menchaca to present his own findings on what the rezoning and subsequent development would mean for the future of the waterfront.

• Hosting a CB7–led presentation on the information gathered at the panel’s series of gentrification and development-focused town halls last year.

• Conducting public reviews of both the board’s and Menchaca’s presentations.

The councilman in a separate statement warned that the rezoning application would be “dead on arrival” if Industry City leaders did not heed the demands to delay the public-review process — a threat that does not bode well for the scheme, since the pol would have an outsize influence over Council’s eventual vote on it, because the site sits within his district.

Two days after Menchaca and Zuniga sent their letter, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Sunset Park) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D–Red Hook), along with state Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D–Crown Heights), fired off their own missive to Department of City Planning Director Marisa Lago that echoed the demands of the councilman and CB7 leader.

The trio added that they worried the rezoning could “exacerbate real-estate pressures, displacement, rising rents, congestion, pollution, and forever shift the nature of the waterfront away from manufacturing to commercial tourism” if officials allowed it to proceed without thorough examination.

Serbaniewicz did not respond to an inquiry about how long Industry City honchos planned to delay the rezoning process, but she cited figures that she claimed represented the thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue the complex has created since its 2013 founding, adding that her bosses intend to cooperate with the community when they resume the rezoning process.

“In the past five years, Industry City has generated tremendous economic activity, including investing more than $400 million in private funds to improve the complex, quadrupling the number of on-site jobs from 1,900 to more than 7,500, and growing the number of businesses from 150 to more than 500,” she said. “We fully appreciate the desire to continue that meaningful economic growth while ensuring it aligns with the broader needs of the entire community.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 6:22 pm, March 14, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

John from Bay Ridge says:
This is simply a delaying tactic on the part of Menchacha and his cohorts. They don’t want this kind of development because it may shift demographics in a way that is not favorable to his power base. They want to pretend that neighborhoods can be preserved in amber, and that change is always detrimental to existing residents. Industry City has resurrected a dying resource and created thousands of jobs. The resining will create thousands more. Many residents of Sunset Park already work in Industry City, and if the rezoning is approved many more will have the opportunity to do so.
March 14, 2:42 pm
migrator from Bay Ridge says:
Lets be realistic, Industry City has not brought the manufacturing jobs they promised. Now they want to fill the area with hotels and retail stores which will bring a ton of low pay jobs to the area, again not commiting to their promise. Jamestown LP the investing firm that owns IC is used to a 25% profit margin in their investments, that's all they care about, they dont give a flying rat's tail about jobs, all they want is to make their money, it's pretty simple. So yeah bring more retail to the area, that's gonna bring wonderfully crappy jobs for teenagers maybe. Wanna see how good retail will do here? Walk a few blocks down Liberty View Plaza on 3rd ave where the retail stores they opened are a ghost town. I predict IC will be gone in another 4-5 years, and they wont be missed.
March 14, 3:50 pm
Jose from Sunset Park says:
migrator: so what alternative are you proposing? are the self storage facilities, distribution warehouses and hotels-cum-homeless shelters popping up everywhere in sunset providing the jobs you speak of? were the bush terminal buildings providing thousands of jobs and community access before IC came to be? as someone who has actually lived in sunset park my whole life, everyone i speak to loves the Industry City project - and many of them now get to walk to work there and others now get to take their families there on the weekends in an area once known for drugs, prostitution and burnt out cars. all the press talks about are uprose and some other groups - ask actual residents what they think of those groups. the answer "all they do is say no and protest everything, what do they ever actually do for us?" will be the answer. if IC left, i shudder to think about what would come in their place...
March 15, 10:45 am
Ziggy from Greenwood Heights says:
this proposal has been out there for YEARS. more time for what? business climate in this city is obstruct and delay. you would think officials in low income communities would welcome new businesses and jobs and investemnt w open arms. go figure...
March 15, 11:06 am

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