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Sunset Park officials push de Blasio admin for Industry City rezoning commitments

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The push comes after a surprise kickstart to the rezoning’s official review

The Industry City waterfront complex in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Nathan Kensinger

Local leaders spearheading the push for a revised Industry City rezoning urged the de Blasio administration to back several commitments intended to create “a more comprehensive framework for equitable development” in Sunset Park.

City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca and Brooklyn Community Board 7 chair Cesar Zuniga spelled out a series of asks from the de Blasio administration in a November 4th letter, and requested city reps meet with local officials prior to the community board’s December 18 vote on the controversial rezoning.

“The Administration’s partnership is critical as Sunset Park explores a more comprehensive response to one of the most significant private rezoning proposals of our time,” the letter states.

The missive comes a week after Industry City, a 16-building waterfront complex, unexpectedly started the clock on the official seven month land use review of a rezoning that seeks to further transform the Jamestown, Belvedere Capital, and Angelo, Gordon & Co.-owned campus into a commercial destination. The plan would bring more than one million square feet of new development to the complex, and locals fear that will skyrocket neighboring rents and displace the largely working class, immigrant community.

To mitigate those concerns, Menchaca and community advocates took it upon themselves to launch their own pre-review process—hosting several community forums, commissioning studies on the potential impacts, and requesting substantial changes to the plan all before it proposal officially began the land use process.

But now that Industry City has pushed ahead with their plan, neighborhood advocates are pressuring the de Blasio administration to support the community’s concerns and back a handful of asks. Those include expanding a pair of programs to strengthen tenant rights to Sunset Park: the Certificate of No Harassment, a document that certain landlords must apply for before receiving building permits to change the use or occupancy of a building; and the Right to Counsel program which provides free lawyers to tenants in 15 ZIP Codes to if their landlords tries to evict them.

The letter also calls on the de Blasio administration to fund a technical high school at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and asks that the mayor’s office to collaborate with local officials on a legislative package that would enact stricter checks on major rezonings, such as mandating job creation counts by the NYC Economic Development Corporation.

Mayoral spokesperson Jane Meyers would not say if the city would back any or all of the asks, instead emphasizing that Industry City’s rezoning is “a private application.”

“We encourage robust conversation around this project,” Meyers said. “Public review provides an opportunity for all voices to be heard.”

Industry City’s CEO Andrew Kimball agreed to hold off on the city’s review process in March, but just over a month after Kimball somewhat begrudgingly agreed in September to stall the rezoning for the second time, the complex filed its rezoning application with the city’s Department of City Planning. The agency certified the proposal—officially kicking off the city’s review process—in October. The turn of events came as a surprise to Menchaca who had requested the 35-acre private complex develop a community benefits agreement with locals before pressing forward.

Kimball has maintained throughout the process that Industry City aims to craft a plan that works for the developers and for the community.

“Industry City is willing to get done all that needs to get done in the next seven months, and hopes our neighbors concur that we should work toward an agreement to ensure the benefits of this development stay close to home,” Kimball said in a Thursday statement.

After the community board votes on the project, the effort heads to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ office for review before heading to the City Planning Commission for a binding vote. Only after passing those hurdles will the rezoning work its way through the City Council before reaching a final vote.

As the local lawmaker, Menchaca’s vote carries extra clout. The Council tends to vote in line with the area’s Councilmember. But as of last week, Menchaca declared that he is preparing to vote against the rezoning unless additional changes and commitments are made.