After four years, and countless meetings and studies, Industry City officials this week are expecting the City Planning Commission (CPC) to start the clock ticking for a final certification on their rezoning application under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
But in an eerie parallel to the recent Amazon fiasco, City Council Member Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) and Community Board 7 Chair Cesar Zuniga sent a letter to Industry City this week requesting them to delay their rezoning application.
Industry City is the largest privately owned industrial complex in the city. Established in 2013 on the long abandoned Sunset Park waterfront, the 16-building complex has added upwards of 7,500 jobs and invested more than $80 million on Brooklyn-based businesses.
In March 2015, the owners put in an application to change part of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone to allow for a hotel, large-scale retail, and academic facilities. They estimate the rezoning has the potential to create 15,000 new jobs and millions more in revenue for the neighborhood.
“As representatives of the Sunset Park community, and as key ULURP stakeholders, we are not ready to begin the ULURP process. Community Board 7 is in the middle of a process to more comprehensively evaluate the waterfront and address concerns about displacement and gentrification, which has still divided members of the Land Use Committee,” Menchaca and Zuniga wrote in the letter.
“If this process does not finish, neither the Community Board nor the Council Member will be in a position to approve any rezoning. Given your commitment thus far to follow the community’s lead, we ask that you delay the application and join us in seeing this process through,” the letter added.
Among the items Menchaca and the community coalition want added before CPC considers starting the ULURP process include:
- A presentation to the Sunset Park community of the findings from last year’s town halls;
- An explanation by Industry City of how its rezoning proposal will mitigate displacement, gentrification, rising rents, congestion, and the effects of climate change;
- A community-based needs assessment, or similar review, to update the community’s vision for the waterfront;
- A presentation by Menchaca to the Community Board of his findings based on his own engagement process; and
- A review by the Sunset Park community of the Community Board and Council Member’s assessments.
However, Industry City claims that the demands are coming a little too late, and after several years of meetings and the Environmental Impact Study (EIS), as is required as part of every rezoning.
“While we already have participated in dozens of community meetings, including five town hall meetings hosted by the Community Board just a few months ago, we are also aware that the mandated process allows for continued dialogue with the community. We intend to make our case in that process and look forward to continued interaction with the Council Member and other key stakeholders in the coming months,” said Industry City Spokesperson Lisa Serbaniewicz.
A coalition of 75 local businesses also jumped behind the rezoning, signing an open letter of support.
“We are writing to express our strong support for Industry City’s comprehensive redevelopment and rezoning plan. Some of us are Industry City tenants and some of us have small businesses elsewhere in the community. Many of us are Sunset Park residents, some of us took part in the Community Board 7 Town Hall meetings this summer, and ALL of us employ local residents. We have chosen to grow our businesses here and are directly invested in the future of Industry City and the surrounding community,” they wrote.
But Menchaca shot back that while he appreciate Industry City’s commitment to engaging with the community, it should be no problem therefore to delay the application given that the community is asking for more time.
“The rezoning is an unprecedented change to an industrial business zone. It could exacerbate displacement, gentrification, rising rents, and other negative trends affecting Sunset Park. We need to think about these things carefully, and until the community has that understanding, going to ULURP is premature,” he said.