Industry City, the private entrepreneurial community that has transformed the Sunset Park waterfront from a seedy strip of porn shops and abandoned warehouses to a 16-acre destination zone of light manufacturing, eateries and event spaces – with about 7,500 jobs – will likely have to wait until the end of summer to begin the process for their much-anticipated expansion.
That after City Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) and Community Board 7’s Executive Committee met last night decided on advancing a lengthy process before even starting the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) to allow the complex to add a hotel, large-scale retail, and academic facilities.
“If they [Industry City] are willing to work with us on a timetable, we are thinking that at this point we will have a series of meetings over the next few months. Monthly town hall meetings to give background information on various issues and also to report back on the five town halls from last year. As well as the three studies that are currently being undertaken,” said CB 7 District Manager Jeremy Lauer.
Menchaca and CB7’s plans for more meetings and studies comes four years after Industry City, in March 2015 put in an application to change part of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone for the expansion. They estimate the rezoning has the potential to create 15,000 new jobs and millions more in revenue for the neighborhood.
In this time, the company did numerous town hall meetings and presentations and completed a necessary Environmental Impact Study (EIS). With this completed they had asked the city’s Planning Department to start the ULURP clock running, but after pressure from Menchaca and federal and state lawmakers, Industry City officials decided to delay their application for rezoning.
At last night’s CB7 executive meeting, Land Use Chair John Fontillas presented the board’s plan for more town halls and studies before the ULURP process can even start. The three studies include a New York University Capstone Program study on affordable housing, a Hunter College study on education and a NYU Langone study on health indicators.
“I believe all of those should be done right about the end of Summer. Hopefully we will have all of those completed and hopefully be able to move forward after the Summer with ULURP if they [Industry City] choose to certify,” added Lauer.
Also included in the Menchaca/CB7 plan is a final review period, which will see 10 Town Halls in 10 weeks after all the studies are completed that will give local residents an opportunity to weigh in on the project. Once this is all completed that is when the board, according to Lauer, will then vote on the project.
Menchaca is in agreement with the plan, but is hesitant that Industry City officials will be willing to wait so long before submitting their ULURP application.
“Are they going to follow the community’s lead when initiating ULURP? In other words, they agreed to delay it but when you look at the filing it just says, ‘laid over.’ So the question is don’t initiate it until the community is ready to initiate it. And there isn’t real clarity on that right now,” said Menchaca spokesperson Anthony Chiarito.
Chiarito went on to state that Menchaca doesn’t know if he’s for the project, but believes in the idea of the community evaluating first evaluating the proposal, and then deciding on it’s approval based on the merits. According to Chiarito, Menchaca has an agnostic position at this point.
“We will show them the plan, show them this is what the Community Board is thinking. So that they understand this is a continuation of the community requests,” added Chiarito.