Sunset Park City Council member Carlos Menchaca is threatening to kill Industry City’s plans to rezone the massive complex unless the landlord delays the process.
The bold position is a rebuttal to Industry City’s application to rezone the 32-acre waterfront property to develop two hotels, increase the complex’s footprint by more than a million square feet, and add an influx of space for retail and classrooms. Industry City’s owner—a partnership between Jamestown, Belvedere Capital, and Angelo, Gordon & Co.—filed the long-awaited application last month to initiate the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
But Menchaca and Cesar Zuniga, the chairman of Community Board 7, penned a letter to Andrew Kimball, the CEO of Industry City, Wednesday demanding the zoning be delayed until Menchaca’s office and the community board finish reviewing the rezoning’s impacts.
“If this process does not finish, neither the Community Board nor the Council Member will be in a position to approve any rezoning,” the letter warns.
The local leaders argue the additional time to evaluate the proposal is needed because the two months given to the community board through the ULURP process “is not enough time” to work out “well-informed positions,” according to the letter.
Sunset Park is a largely low- to-middle-income neighborhood with sizable Hispanic and Asian communities and the rezoning has stoked displacement fears. Community groups who are skeptical of the plan, such as Uprose, have slammed the complex as a lure for gentrification and say its businesses mostly serve those coming from communities outside of the immediate neighborhood.
Conversely, Menchaca and Zuniga—who also fear the plan could “dramatically increase” displacement—say they are eager for the boost in jobs the rezoning would bring but say the process must be done with thorough considerations to how the plan is poised to reshape not just the industrial waterfront but the entire neighborhood.
“We are not opposed to new job creation; to the contrary, we eagerly welcome good jobs for our residents, and want to maintain our neighborhood’s legacy,” the letter continues. “But it must be done in a way that is fundamentally backed by the community and that seriously takes into account these larger trends.”
A spokesperson for Industry City said the company is “very disappointed” by the request to delay the rezoning and likened Menchaca’s pushback to the resistance that led Amazon to pull out of plans to bring half of its second North American headquarters to Queens.
“Last month, New York City squandered an opportunity to bring 25,000 jobs to Long Island City,” said Lisa Serbaniewicz, a spokesperson for Industry City, who noted company representatives have attended several community meetings on the rezoning. “Now, the possibility to create 15,000 new jobs is about to be lost in Sunset Park, where a plan for the reactivation of Industry City is about to begin the public review process.”