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Rezoning of Sunset Park's Industry City complex is on the horizon

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The owners want to bring more retail, two hotels to the six-million-square-foot complex

Via the Monument

Industry City’s next phase of expansion is now officially set to move forward. The owners of the 16-building complex in Sunset Park will formally enter into the city’s rezoning process tomorrow. They will present their plans at a public meeting to be held at the City Planning Commission, as part of a pre-certification process for such rezonings.

Based on the feedback acquired at the meeting, the developers will create an environmental impact statement. If the city approves the findings from that study, the project will then officially enter into the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), most likely in the Spring of 2018, and then spend another six-seven months in that public review process, if it is approved.

So what exactly does this rezoning entail? The owners—a consortium of Belvedere Capital Real Estate Partners, Jamestown, and Angelo, Gordon & Co.—want to activate the full potential of this six million square foot campus, and are looking to rezone from a heavy manufacturing area into a light manufacturing one with retail, and two hotels.

The CEO of Industry City, Andrew Kimball, explained at a media briefing on Monday morning that this rezoning would fully restore this century-old campus, generate $1 billion in investments in the campus over the coming decade, and also create a total of 13,000 jobs on-campus, and 7,000 jobs offsite, over the same timeframe.

If the rezoning passes as proposed, it will create 3.6 million square feet of space for a variety of businesses including those in manufacturing, film, fashion, food, technology, and others. It will also create 387,000 square feet of space for academic uses (not dorms, as was earlier proposed), 900,000 square feet of retail, 415,000 square feet for storage and warehouse use, 43,000 square feet for events, and 272,000 square feet of hospitality uses—which comprises the two planned business hotels.

Since the development consortium purchased Industry City in 2013, they have invested $250 million in modernizing the campus, and the number of jobs there have gone up from 1,900 to 6,500. In April 2016, Industry City debuted an employment and entrepreneurship center for the community. The Innovation Lab, as this center is known, has so far generated 140 job placements for local residents.

The rezoning proposal to create the Special Sunset Park Innovation District [PDF] was first presented in 2015. Since then, the owners have been working with the community on how best to activate the campus, Kimball told those present at the media briefing.

“We have been listening to key stakeholders, area residents, and Sunset Park businesses for four years now, and the plan has been refined based on the input we have gotten so far,” Kimball said in a statement.

However many local community groups have expressed concerns about the rezoning. Several groups are planning to speak against the rezoning at the public hearing tomorrow. These groups include UPROSE and Members of Protect Our Working Waterfront Alliance.

“The Sunset Park industrial zone has served our largely working class community of color for decades with blue-collar jobs,” Elizabeth Yeampierre, the executive director of UPROSE, said in a statement. “There is nothing innovative about what Industry City is proposing for their property. Innovative would be leveraging industrial spaces to manufacture for a zero carbon future and the urgent climate adaptation needs of the region. These are the innovative industrial jobs of the future. What we are seeing instead is old-school commercial real estate development catering to a privileged minority at the expense of the working class,”

Curbed has reached out to the local City Council member, Carlos Menchaca to offer his views on the rezoning, and we will update this piece when we hear back from him.