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Industry City kicks off long-awaited rezoning process

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The owners want to bring more retail, two hotels, and classroom space to the 16-building complex

A dilapidated warehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Nathan Kensinger

A rezoning of Industry City is poised to transform one of Brooklyn’s last industrial strongholds into a mecca of hotels, shops, and educational spaces.

The owners of the 16-building Industry City complex in Sunset Park have filed their long-anticipated application with the City Planning Commission to begin the months-long land use review process known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

Industry City’s owner—a partnership between Jamestown, Belvedere Capital, and Angelo, Gordon & Co.—has reshaped the 32-acre waterfront property from a desolate swath of gritty warehouses into a hub of activity with an influx of shops and a lineup of eateries that have catapulted the complex to a foodie destination.

In the last decade, the area has seen exhaustive change, but that may soon be dwarfed by the next phase of redevelopment on the horizon. Industry City’s zoning proposal would remove restrictions on the kinds of retail that can lease space at the property for greater freedom to reinvent the area.

The rezoning would allow Industry City to increase its footprint to some 6.5 million square feet—it currently hovers at 5.2 million square feet—and allow for an additional 900,000 square feet of food and retail space, plus 600,000 square feet for classrooms and educational facilities. Industry City is also looking to develop a pair of hotels with more than 400 rooms.

Since the consortium of developers purchased the complex in 2013, they’ve invested in chipping away at the property’s $350 million of deferred maintenance and grown its tenants to more than 450 businesses with over 7,000 jobs, according to Andrew Kimball, the CEO of Industry City, who met with the Sunset Park community at a November public meting on the rezoning.

But the plan has faced an uphill battle gaining the support of community groups, such as Uprose—Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization—which charges Industry City with ratcheting up gentrification in the low- and-middle income community.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, the executive director of UPROSE, slammed the rezoning in comments to Curbed last year as “catering to a privileged minority at the expense of the working class” and believes the complex’s space would be better served for other manufacturing uses.

“The Sunset Park industrial zone has served our largely working class community of color for decades with blue-collar jobs,” Yeampierre said. “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.”

Other local leaders emphasized the booming complex as a symbol of displacement for the area’s long-time residents.

“We made this the thriving community that you are now trying to cash in on,” Marcela Mitaynes, the chair of Community Board 7’s Housing Committee and a tenant organizer with Neighbors Helping Neighbors who has lived in Sunset Park since 1979, told Kimball at November’s rezoning meeting. “Because in 10 years, when you are fully operational, the brown folks in this neighborhood, the brown folks that are sitting here, the Latino community and the Asian community, will no longer be here.”

Once the rezoning application goes before the City Planning Commission—a date for which has yet to calendared—the ULURP process will begin, according to the Department of City Planning. Next, Community Board 7 will review the plan followed by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams before it returns to the planning commission for review and a vote. If the rezoning is approved, the final step is for the New York City Council to vote on the plan. Local Council member Carlos Menchaca’s vote could make or break the rezoning since the council historically falls in line with the view of the area’s lawmaker.