Industry City Moves Forward With Rezoning Plans


In a game of economic poker with thousands of jobs and the future of both Sunset Park and the South Brooklyn waterfront at stake, Industry City officials yesterday officially moved forward with their rezoning application, setting off a seven-month public review approval process.

And across the negotiating table sits City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook), who has thus far slowed Industry City’s longheld plans to rezone the expand a crawl, and thought he had a further agreement in September to slow the process to hammer out a community benefits agreement (CBA), which would include more community involvement.

Established in 2013 on the long-abandoned Sunset Park waterfront, Industry City is the city’s largest privately-owned industrial complex comprising 16-buildings. It currently houses hundreds of businesses including in light manufacturing, retail, technology and events employing more than 7,500 people and has 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 expand to accommodate up to 900,000 square feet of retail space, build two hotels totaling 275,000 square feet, use 600,000 square feet for academic classrooms, and develop up to 1.3 million square feet of additional commercial space.

But Menchaca, who as the elected city representative, has a lot of say as to whether the city will ultimately approve the rezoning, has been successful in stalling the application. Among the concessions, Menchaca has been able to get thus far has been the removal of the hotels, entering into a CBA and creating a manufacturing hub managed by a nonprofit.

But Menchaca also wanted to delay the rezoning application again, something that Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball felt has been stalled long enough.

“Since Industry City originally indicated that it would need zoning changes to fully realize its plan to create 20,000 jobs, two remarkable things have happened: the Sunset Park neighborhood, with leadership from Councilman Carlos Menchaca and Community Board 7, undertook the most extensive community engagement process ever implemented in New York City for a proposal of this type; and, with $400 million of private investment, the long-dormant Industry City has become home to some 550 businesses employing more than 8,000 people,” Kimball said in announcing Industry City has been in the rezoning application.

“During the review process, and for many years to come, we will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that the benefits of this effort stay close to home,” he added.

City Councilman Carlos Menchaca

Menchaca responded by saying that the city’s Planning Commission certification of the Industry City’s rezoning application starting the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) starts today is troubling and he is prepared to vote “no” when it comes before the City Council.

“I am prepared to vote “no” because I do not believe starting ULURP today is enough time to craft a rezoning plan that protects and uplifts our most vulnerable neighbors. Remember, we are contemplating an enormous rezoning because of one private developer’s interests, not because our neighborhood has called for it,” said Menchaca.

Menchaca said he asked Industry City to accept modifications and to partner with the community to win commitments from the Mayor’s Office and explore the feasibility of a community benefits agreement (CBA) that would legally bind not just Industry City, but any future property owner to enforceable terms.

“These conditions represent a framework for achieving a modified rezoning that brings the Sunset Park community to the table while avoiding the worst consequences of the status quo. To their credit, Industry City initially agreed to this vision. However, their decision to seek certification today is a departure from that vision to truly partner with the Sunset Park community,” he said.

Menchaca, however, still believes an agreement between Industry City and the district he represents can come to an agreement.

“I believe with sufficient time, the coalition exploring the feasibility of a CBA can satisfy any and all questions regarding its implementation.  I believe the Mayor’s Office can make the necessary commitments to invest in the types of programs and infrastructure we need. I believe that Industry City can craft a rezoning proposal that benefits the Sunset Park community,” said Menchaca.