NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A controversial proposal to rezone the waterfront in Sunset Park and add thousands of jobs has been taken off the table.
As CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reports, with restaurants, retail and shared space, Industry City is it’s own little city in the big city.
“I would describe Industry City as vibrant, energetic, creative. It’s a really exciting place to be,” said Dawn Casale of One Girl Cookies.
Industry City is home to One Girl Cookies baking hub. Dawn moved in six years ago.
“It was definitely much less developed than it is now. So it’s really great to witness the transformation of Industry City,” she said.
She was looking forward to watching it grow even more, but the developers hoping to expand the waterfront complex withdrew their rezoning proposal after facing opposition, including a letter lawmakers sent to the City Council stating the proposal “would further exacerbate real estate pressures, displacement, rising rents” and supercharge gentrification.
“COVID presented this need for factories to build the masks and the face guards, and that’s why we’re trying to protect this neighborhood manufacturing zone which, which Industry City was trying to transform into retail. That the community did not want,” said Councilmember Carlos Menchaca.
Menchaca added in a statement:
“My position on Industry City has been clear for months. IC’s plan makes tens of thousands of Sunset Park residents more vulnerable at a time of unprecedented economic instability. This is not the way forward. IC attempted to use their money and influence to circumvent the community-backed position and win over Council Members. Despite these efforts to divide the community and the Council, they couldn’t defeat the power of the people coming together to protect their neighborhood. We are pleased IC saw the writing on the wall and finally pulled the application. This is a huge win for the Sunset Park Community. People power has triumphed. Our work continues as community voice drives future growth of our neighborhood.”
But during a pandemic, president of the Partnership for New York City Kathryn Wylde is focused on the thousands of jobs promised.
“We need to send a message to businesses that the city is going to recover and that they can be part of the solution, and instead we’re discouraging a major private investment in creating jobs, helping entrepreneurs, putting people to work,” Wylde said.
Citing this and Amazon’s decision not to settle in Long Island City, Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked if he was concerned about the future of development in the city.
“We have some major rezonings coming up now city planning is up and running again,” the mayor said. “We’re going to push hard to get good development that benefits communities. That’s what the public can actually buy into.”
Andrew Kimball, the CEO of Industry City, wouldn’t go on camera, but gave CBS2 a statement saying:
In late July, it became clear that a number of convergent factors were forcing us to rethink our request to have the property rezoned. Now, despite strong support from a growing number of Council Members, the City Planning Commission, a broad coalition of Sunset Park residents and small businesses, and members of the clergy, as well as civic, business and labor leaders and many others who care about New York and its future, it is clear that the current political environment and a lack of leadership precludes a path forward for our rezoning proposal.
Over and over, we have heard from key decision makers that while the substance of the project is strong, the politics of the moment do not allow them to support any private development project. Even the historic nature of our commitments – which significantly elevated the bar for future development projects – and a seven-year record of creating jobs and opportunity weren’t enough to overcome purely political considerations. Sadly, in the context of one in five New Yorkers losing their jobs and the City’s fiscal crisis spiraling out of control, the leadership needed to approve this development failed to emerge. Therefore, we have decided to withdraw our application and proceed with as-of-right leasing options.
Councilmember Menchaca says now that the rezoning “obstacle” is gone, they can focus on bringing in green jobs to the site.
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