Why Industry City Pulled Its Rezoning Plan

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The group of developers that own Industry City have withdrawn their controversial application to rezone the sprawling waterfront industrial complex in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, citing a lack of political leadership and an anti-development climate. 

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Some members of the City Council, including Ritchie Torres and Robert Cornegy, had been pushing to approve the rezoning, despite Sunset Park City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca’s opposition to the project. Politico New York broke the news late last night that Industry City had decided to kill its long-in-the-works expansion plan. 

The proposed rezoning would have created more than 1 million square feet of new commercial, retail, academic and industrial space and 15,000 new jobs at the World War I-era manufacturing campus, according to Industry City. The City Planning Commission approved the rezoning last month, despite vocal complaints about the plan from both Menchaca and local activists. Although Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball pledged not to build hotels and to set aside below-market-rate manufacturing space, Menchaca said he would not support the rezoning unless the city invested in affordable housing in the neighborhood. 

Four Brooklyn members of Congress also came out against the rezoning plan yesterday, which seemed to drive the final nail into the project’s coffin. Reps. Nydia Velasquez, Jerrold Nadler, Yvette Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries signed a joint letter arguing that the rezoning would “supercharge the displacement and gentrification that is undermining Sunset Park’s affordability and blue-collar job base.” 

Kimball said in a statement that “despite strong support…it is clear that the current political environment and a lack of leadership precludes a path forward for our rezoning proposal. Over and over, we have heard from key decision makers that, while the substance of the project is strong, the politics of the moment do not allow them to support any private development project.” 

“Even the historic nature of our commitments – which significantly elevated the bar for future development projects – and a seven-year record of creating jobs and opportunity weren’t enough to overcome purely political considerations,” Kimball wrote. “Sadly, in the context of 1 in 5 New Yorkers losing their jobs and the city’s fiscal crisis spiraling out of control, the leadership needed to approve this development failed to emerge. Therefore, we have decided to withdraw our application and proceed with as-of-right leasing options.”

Local activists who had been protesting the rezoning for years also released a victorious statement. 

“After united community opposition the billionaires behind Industry City withdrew their private waterfront plan,” said Antoinette Martinez, a lifelong Sunset Park resident and organizer with Protect Sunset Park. “Now it’s time for City Hall leaders to do their job. Instead of prioritizing racist rezonings seeking to replace working-class communities we need a public waterfront plan to uplift working people throughout New York, from Sunset Park to Flushing!”