The City Planning Commission (CPC) today voted 11-1 to recommend approval of Industry City’s rezoning plan for the Sunset Park waterfront, moving the plan for a final vote before the city council at an as yet to be determined date.
The near-unanimous vote came much to the consternation of local City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca’s (D-Red Hook, Sunset Park), but CPC Chair Marisa Lago noted in her statement in voting for the rezoning that the first major project to be voted on by the CPC since COVID-19 shut down our economy is focused on job creation.”
“Industry in NYC is undeniably evolving. It’s smaller, it’s more high-tech, and its jobs afford a talented local workforce a direct pathway to good-paying jobs. We know that for our city to function, we need both warehousing space and space for job-dense uses close to where New Yorkers live,” said Lago.
“And, the Industry City proposal can provide both – without public subsidies or public capital investments on the underutilized, privately-owned 30-acre facility – but only if we update our long-outdated zoning,” she said.
Lago also noted that the city has made tremendous investments into the large, publicly-owned sites along the Sunset Park waterfront including spending millions of dollars on upgrading space for good manufacturing jobs at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, improving the freight rail network, creating new waterfront open spaces, investing in the Made In New York campus, and working with the state to bring a wind-power assembly hub to the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal.
“Just last week, the City’s Economic Development Corporation announced that Steiner Studios will expand to Sunset Park’s publicly owned Bush Terminal, bringing an estimated 1,600 construction jobs and 2,200 new permanent jobs,” she said.
But Menchaca was quick with a prepared statement criticizing the CPC vote.
“First and foremost is the claim that Industry City must be given a blank check to do whatever they want because they promise to create thousands of jobs. With one exception, not a single commissioner thought to ask, “jobs for who?” There is scant evidence to suggest that Industry City has created jobs for the working-class immigrant families who the Commission believes will benefit from the rezoning,” Menchaca said.
Also criticizing the plan was the progressive organization, Protect Sunset Park, who like progressives that killed the Amazon deal in Queens, remain against the rezoning on privately held property.
“This racist rezoning seeks to replace opportunities for our working-class communities of color on the industrial waterfront with consumers of inessential luxury retail and corporate office space.” said Jorge Muñiz a Sunset Park resident.
While, Menchaca’s decision to not support the rezoning carries a lot of weight as the City Council – which needs to sign off on all rezoning applications – traditionally follows the lead decision of the local city council member, this could well be an exception to the rule.
At stake is an economic development engine that could help the city dig out of a massive hole as the COVID pandemic has left the city with a roughly $9 billion budget deficit, an unemployment rate of over 20%, a growing number of businesses permanently closed, and residents fleeing the state and a sharp uptick in crime.
Already several City Council Members including Robert Cornegy Jr. (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights) Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) and Donovan Richards (D-Queens) has come out in support of the rezoning.
Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball said approval of the plan will signal the city is ready to turn the corner and begin its recovery from the worst crises it has ever faced.
“After considering the facts, including that the proposal will lead to the creation of 20,000 good paying jobs and generate $100 million in annual tax revenue, the City Planning Commission has now recommended that the plan be approved. We will continue to make the case for this proposal and look forward to working with the City Council and other community stakeholders as the approval process enters its final phase,” said Kimball.