Sunset Park organizations and residents rallied outside of Community Board 7’s March 13 meeting about plans to rezone Industry City.
Both the meeting and the protest came on the heels of the waterfront’s announcement that it would delay a plan to increase Industry City’s total usable space from 5.3 to 6.6 million square feet dedicated to the building of hotels, as well as additional retail space and academic centers.
Several people stood outside the district office at 4201 Fourth Avenue — including members of such groups as Sunset Park Latino Democrats, Love Trumps Hate Sunset Park and Project 8th Avenue Coalition — and held up signs that said things like, “Support local businesses, not big box store chains,” “Defend Sunset Park” and “We can’t afford IC rent increases.”
“We are living in overcrowded apartments, sometimes two or three families to a tiny two bedroom. Even homeowners are struggling in the face of sharply rising property tax,” said Sunset Park resident and activist Jei Fong. “This development isn’t meant for us to enjoy. It will only pave the way for more large-scale luxury buildings and more displacement in Sunset Park. We must hold our elected officials accountable and insure we kill this rezoning.”
“Ultimately only Councilmember Carlos Menchaca has the power to permanently halt this rezoning,” added Claudia Galicia, president of Sunset Park Latino Democrats. “The fate and future of our neighborhood is in his hands. We applaud his leadership thus far in negotiating a delay. Now we need him to represent our voices and just say no to Industry City.”
The rezoning was delayed earlier this month following a back and forth of letters between Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, Community Board 7 Chair Cesar Zuniga and IC’s CEO Andrew Kimball regarding the application.
“In speaking with the community and the larger constituency, I thought it was important to lift up a very important value we have here in Sunset Park — and that’s participatory democracy,” Menchaca said prior to the decision from IC to postpone its plans. “The community should be really shepherding the future of its own neighborhood and has been doing so for a long time.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and President of New York City Economic Development Corporation James Patchett chimed in on the topic during a press conference on resiliency plans to protect lower Manhattan Thursday.
“I’m going to turn to James because I will always be straightforward that I have not focused on the details of that project,” de Blasio told a reporter when asked about IC. “But this is about, to me, ensuring that there are jobs for working people in communities.”
“I’m meeting with the councilmember this afternoon about this topic and a few others,” Patchett added. “We have to support jobs. There are always legitimate concerns and I look forward to discussing them with the elected officials.”