Industry City Developers Pull Application After Opposition from Elected Officials

Council Member Carlos Menchaca speaks in opposition to the Industry City application at the Subcommittee hearing on September 15, 2020. Image Credit: NY City Council

Many elected officials questioned whether the developers could follow through on promises of job creation. On September 22, 2020, the developers of the proposed Industry City Rezoning pulled their application after receiving opposition from many elected officials and community members. Industry City is a 5.3 million square foot mixed-use complex with commercial, manufacturing, and community uses in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The complex is located in an area bounded by 32nd Street to the north, 41st Street to the south, Third Avenue to the east, and the Brooklyn Waterfront to the west. The application called for four land use actions to allow for the addition of several buildings, lifted restrictions on the types of retail and other uses allowed. For CityLand’s prior coverage of the Industry City project, click here.

The application had previously been approved by the City Planning Commission, who cited the importance of job-creating projects in a New York City that is recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the developer’s arguments for approving the application included a projected addition of several thousand jobs. While there has been room for some development and growth in Industry City as of right, the developers cited strict retail use restrictions and the desire to repurpose unused space as reasons for the application.

The Industry City application has faced pushback from community members and organizations for several years. Community members cited concerns about the impact such a large expansion would have on gentrification in Sunset Park, a neighborhood that has a large immigrant population. Groups like UPROSE and Protect Sunset advocated against the rezoning and instead for green job creation in the waterfront area.

Council Member Carlos Menchaca, who represents Sunset Park, discussed multiple times how he originally hoped that the Industry City expansion could bring many benefits to the Sunset Park community if modifications could be made and an enforceable Community Benefits Agreement could be reached with the developer.

At the time it was pulled the application had most recently been heard before the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. At the Subcommittee hearing, many council members shared doubts about the application’s ability to create the jobs it promised. Council Member Francisco Moya questioned how the developers could “guarantee” job creation when the majority of jobs are created directly by Industry City’s tenants, not the developers themselves. Council Member Carlina Rivera asked how the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted the businesses currently at Industry City, and how many of those may now be permanently shifting to work-from-home after the pandemic.

On September 22nd, Representative Nydia Velazquez shared a letter to the City Council opposing the application. Rep. Velazquez cited the job creation that Industry City can already do without the application’s approval and that the community’s input is critical to consider ahead of any land review process as reasons to oppose the application. The letter stated, “ULURP should come after a community negotiation process, not ahead of it. What the Sunset Park community has made clear is rezoning such a large portion of the waterfront for a single private actor is not in the best interest of the residents.” The letter was also signed by other Members of Congress and the New York State Legislature.

Later that evening, the Industry City developers revoked the application. Andrew Kimball, the CEO of Industry City, stated, “Over and over, we have heard from key decision-makers that while the substance of the project is strong, the politics of the movement do not allow them to support any private development project. . . Sadly, in the context of one in five New Yorkers losing their jobs and the City’s fiscal crisis spiraling out of control, the leadership failed to emerge. Therefore, we have decided to withdraw our application and proceed with as-of-right leasing options.”

After the announcement, Council Member Menchaca tweeted, “Industry City has withdrawn their application. A WIN FOR SUNSET PARK! People power has triumphed. Our work continues as community voice drives the growth and future of our neighborhood.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.