Sunset Park Asian-American Coalition Urges Support of Industry City Rezoning

Food traffic on Eighth Avenue in the heart of Brooklyn’s Chinatown.

A coalition of nearly 50 Asian-American civic leaders and small business owners representing the Sunset Park community Wednesday sent a letter to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) urging approval of Industry City’s rezoning plan to create 20,000 jobs.

The endorsement came less than 24 hours after the City Planning Commission overwhelmingly approved Industry City’s rezoning application and ahead of a final vote by the City Council. It is the latest show of support from a broad and growing cross-section of civic, labor, business and elected leaders.

Signatories to the letter include members of Community Board 7, business and property owners, and members of other civic organizations in Sunset Park, where more than 30% of residents are Asian-American.

The letter is also something of a push back against the mainly white far-left progressive and Latino organizations such as Protect Sunset Park, which attempt to position themselves as speaking for the majority of Sunset Park.

“It is important to state that Councilmember [Carlos] Menchaca’s recent opposition to the rezoning plan does not represent the majority view of the Asian-Americans who live here,” the letter stated.

Community Board 7 member Kenny Guan, president of Guan Realty Corp. and the lead writer of the letter, noted that Brooklyn’s Chinatown is bursting at the seams and is now nearly the biggest Chinatown in all of New York City.

“This is New York City, the Big Apple. We need to build up locally and in the city and the entire country with jobs especially with the Coronavirus here in Sunset Park,” said Guan, who has been in Sunset Park for 32 years and is raising his two children in the area.

Guan also said that the further light manufacturing, tech and events that the Industry City rezoning will bring will add, not subtract to both the Latino business corridor along 5th Avenue and the Chinese business corridors along 7th and 8th avenues.

People will still love to come to 5th Avenue for smaller shops with great deals. These shops have different clients. Industry City offers other kinds of stuff, he said.

Guan and the letter also notes that Industry City has already invested greatly in developing a previously under-utilized industrial campus creating over 7,000 new jobs in the process. They have made countless investments in our community, funding the innovation lab and workforce center, and supporting culturally sensitive events and programs throughout Sunset Park.

Guan also said Industry City and its CEO Andrew Kimball has been a transparent and communicative partner and have had an open door to new ideas and suggestions. They have also made it a policy to procure many goods and services locally, helping Asian-owned small businesses to grow, according to the letter.

While Menchaca, who represents the district, said he opposes the rezoning, several city council members including Robert Cornegy (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant), Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) and Donovan Richards (D-Queens) have all supported the rezoning plan.

As per the city’s rezoning process, the City Council has until Nov. 4 to vote yes or no on the plan and another 15 days if it chooses to modify the application.