UPROSE raise questions on Industry City proposal

Saying no to gentrification in Sunset Park was the message that residents, advocates, local organizations and businesses made loud and clear at a press conference regarding the future of the neighborhood.

The meeting, held on Sunday, March 22, was hosted by UPROSE, an environmental advocacy group, and featured several speakers who voiced their concerns regarding changes planned for the neighborhood, most notably the recently announced $1 billion Industry City proposal that, according to Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball, will include high quality jobs for the community, within “a hub for the innovation economy with businesses that have long-term viability in New York City.”

“We are gathered here because we feel that Sunset Park should not become the next Williamsburg,” said Executive Director of UPROSE, Elizabeth Yeampierre. “We have a lot of folks here today really concerned because a $1 billion mega project is being proposed in our community and (Industry City) has not addressed or answered the questions that should be answered for something of that size.”

Yeampierre and many of the speakers discussed the concern of current residents being priced out of their neighborhood. “We know in other communities where projects have been much smaller that the displacement has been significant,” she said. “For example, Williamsburg lost 20 percent of its Latino population.”

“We are concerned that this proposal could put these jobs at risk,” added Angel Martinez of Teamsters Local 812. “Long Island City, Williamsburg and Bushwick have seen condos and retail spaces replace their industrial jobs. Sunset Park deserves better. “

Advocates are also concerned at the lack of information and participation the community has received thus far regarding Industry City’s plans. “Our organization believes that development can be a good thing,” said Matt Ryan, executive director of ALIGN. “It can create community benefits. But to create community benefits, you have to first have the community at the table and the community has to set the course for what that development has to look like. We have grave concerns of the direction of this development because the community is not engaged.”

“We can’t overstate the importance of this proposal and this community’s reaction,” added Eddie Bautista, executive director for NYC Environmental Justice Alliance. “This is a defining moment for the industrial waterfront, for working people who have relied on raising families on our industrial and manufacturing waterfronts for decades. We ask elected officials to be as diligent and rigorous in their analysis as Industry City was in rolling out their press release.”

On several occasions during the conference, speakers raised questions about the type of jobs Industry City’s plan would bring. “Sunset Park is already a strong, diverse working class community that needs more jobs, said Robert Hill, vice president of 32BJ and Sunset resident.” In this proposal they’re throwing out the term job but not everyone is a good one. The questions are these going to be good jobs.”

“In Chelsea Market, Dumbo and Williamsburg, they are hiring low income people,” added Yeampierre. “We wonder whether the people that work there can actually live there. When a billion dollar retail and hotel development plan for the IC complex is proposed to us, we have questions and everyone should who is concerned about the future of our waterfront.”


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