Menchaca Wants to Discuss Industry City with De Blasio

Industry City Shot 1
Industry City exterior image. Photo courtesy of Industry City.

City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook, Greenwood Heights, Borough Park, Dyker Heights, Windsor Terrace) and Community Board 7 Chair Cesar Zuniga this week fired off a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking for the administration’s partnership in response to Industry City’s application to rezone the Sunset Park waterfront.

In the Nov. 4 letter, Menchaca and Zuniga express their belief that “residents and their Community Board cannot adequately assess the impact of Industry City’s rezoning without beginning conversations with the [De Blasio] Administration about the scale and variety of neighborhood investments that can be part of a more comprehensive alternative.”

City Councilman Carlos Menchaca

“There is no doubt that upzoning 20% of Sunset Park’s industrial waterfront property will have dramatic consequences for decades to come, potentially unlocking significant economic benefits for the neighborhood and New York City generally. But at this moment in our city’s history, major upzonings often induce real estate activity that can have devastating impacts on current residential and commercial tenants,” the two wrote.

“Sunset Park is a community that is predominantly working-class, immigrant, and majority-minority. We must be extremely vigilant about weighing the local and city-wide benefits of this rezoning with the significant negative consequences on our most vulnerable neighbors,” the letter added.

The memo on the heels of Industry City officials last week moving forward with their rezoning application, setting off a seven-month public review approval process, also known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

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. 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.

Menchaca has been successful in delaying the ULURP application, which shows the councilmember’s commitment to preserving and expanding opportunities for small businesses in his district. 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 isn’t entirely opposed to change. The letter does ask for “a modified rezoning of the property, direct accountability from the developer to the community, and investments from the City of New York to address the community’s serious needs.

“This final piece is critical, for while the City stands to benefit greatly from new jobs in tech, culture, and manufacturing, the negative impacts will largely be felt locally,” the letter adds.