Editorial: Allow Industry City To Rezone

Talk about moving the goalposts!

Industry City officials on Friday once again put off the start of the rezoning process on the whims of City Council Member Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook).

And make no mistake, Industry City is a win for the community by any measuring stick, despite it being en vogue for progressives in the city to put a target on the back of any private enterprise looking to spur economic growth.

Andrew Kimball, the driving force behind the success of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, has steered the 16-building 35-acre commercial mixed-use use complex since 2013. Since that time, he has overseen Industry City’s growth from employing fewer than 1,900 people to nearly 8,000 people working there. It now also includes dozens of small and large start-up businesses to everything from light manufacturing to small and large eateries.

City Councilman Carlos Menchaca

Additionally, Industry City holds both small and large events and brings excellent art installations and exhibits such as the recent M C Eisher Art exhibit, which a few months back brought this editor/reporter to Industry City. 

Since March 2015, Kimball has patiently been trying to expand and rezone 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.

But since 2015, Menchaca, along with other elected officials, have put up nothing but roadblocks to allowing Industry City to file a for rezoning under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). 

And for all the calls that Industry City is spurring gentrification, it should be noted that there is no waterfront housing slated at Industry City – meaning all the jobs, tourism dollars and opportunity for local entrepreneurs from the Sunset Park neighborhood stand to benefit here.

Menchaca, who as the local city councilman wields a lot of power in the rezoning, has time and again moved the goalposts for allowing ULURP. The latest being last week when Industry City officials agreed to his latest demands. This included, among other things, removing the hotel component, ensuring space restricted for industrial uses and establishing a manufacturing hub managed by a mission-driven non-profit.

Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball.

Industry officials has also agreed to a signing a binding Community Benefits Agreement.

But Friday, Menchaca once again said he needed more time to negotiate and get community input. This after literally dozens of meetings with community stakeholders.

Incidents like this leave little wonder why Amazon quickly pulled up stakes last year in bringing their second headquarters here and investing in Nashville – a growing metropolitan region whereas New York City is shrinking for the first time in 20 years.

Not allowing Industry City to move ahead with rezoning is both bad governance and sends a horrible message to companies big and small that moving to New York City is a headache in the making.

It is for these reasons, KCP urges Menchaca to support the rezoning application to move forward while he continues to negotiate with Industry City – for both the good of Sunset Park and the city.

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