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Industry City delays rezoning after pressure from lawmakers

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Lawmakers fear the rezoning could “supercharge” displacement and gentrification in the working-class nabe

Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Nathan Kensinger

Industry City has put the brakes on plans to rezone an industrial swath of Sunset Park after lawmakers pressured the company for more time to review the proposal’s impact on the heavily working-class neighborhood.

The move comes after a heated back and forth between City Council member Carlos Menchaca and Industry City’s CEO, Andrew Kimball, where the legislator threatened to vote down the rezoning if the application recently filed with the Department of City Planning wasn’t postponed. After mounting calls from elected officials, Industry City has decided to delay the rezoning that could have generated 15,000 new jobs for the area.

“In consideration of the request made by our City Council Member and Community Board, Industry City has agreed to postpone public review of the proposed rezoning of the property,” said Industry City spokesperson Lisa Serbaniewicz.

The complex initially balked at calls to delay the application. After years of meeting with locals and elected officials in anticipation of the rezoning, Kimball questioned the request for more community engagement and time to review the proposal. He warned that a stalled rezoning could “force the project to turn entirely to commercial office-type tenants.”

Industry City’s owner—a partnership between Jamestown, Belvedere Capital, and Angelo, Gordon & Co.—had planned to reshape its 32-acre property within the neighborhood’s Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Zone. The proposed rezoning would have paved the way for two hotels, increased the complex’s footprint by more than 1 million square feet, and created new retail and classroom space.

Initial environmental assessment documents were filed last fall before the rezoning application was submitted in February. Those plans were set to initiate the months-long Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Industry City would not answer questions on when it hopes to move forward with the zoning.

Menchaca and Brooklyn Community Board 7 Chairman Cesar Zuniga called the delay the “right call” in a joint statement.

“In addition to needing time to complete the community engagement process started last year, a critical and transparent analysis of the rezoning proposal’s possible impacts on displacement must be analyzed before starting ULURP,” the local leaders wrote. “We look forward to working with Industry City in a community-led process to ensure the rezoning proposal benefits the entire Sunset Park community.”

U.S. Reps Nydia Velázquez, Jerrold Nadler, and state Senator Zellnor Myrie stressed the need for thorough neighbor planning as the rezoning “could exacerbate real estate pressures, displacement, rising rents, congestion, pollution, and forever shift the nature of the waterfront away from manufacturing to commercial tourism,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter penned to Marisa Lago, the director of the Department of City Planning.

Community Board 7 hired experts to evaluate Industry City’s proposal last year, but they are in the early stages of their review. The trio of elected officials called it “unreasonable to expect they can undertake such an important analysis of the rezoning in the two months allotted by ULURP,” the letter continued.

Since the consortium of developers purchased Industry City in 2013, they’ve invested $400 million to improve the complex and have grown its tenants to more than 500 businesses with over 7,500 jobs, according to Serbaniewicz.

“We fully appreciate the desire to continue that meaningful economic growth while ensuring it aligns with the broader needs of the entire community,” said Serbaniewicz.