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Sunset Park leaders demand meeting with mayor’s advisers ahead of Industry City vote

SUNSET PARK — With Community Board 7’s deadline to vote on Industry City’s rezoning approaching, two Sunset Park officials are calling on the mayor to send his top advisers to the board to shed insight — and discuss the city’s investments — as residents consider the 172-page application.

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca and CB7 chairperson Cesar Zuniga sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday urging the city to meet with them prior to Dec. 18 to create a more equitable framework for the expansion.

“We are writing to request meetings with your top advisors on housing, economic development, education, climate resilience, social services and small business services to discuss Industry City’s rezoning proposal,” the letter reads.

“We ask for this urgency as we believe that residents and their community board cannot adequately assess the impact of Industry City’s rezoning without beginning conversations with your administration about the scale and variety of neighborhood investments that can be part of a more comprehensive alternative.”

The correspondence came one week after Industry City’s rezoning application was filed, setting off a seven-month public review of the $1 billion redevelopment that would add roughly 1.3 million square feet of space to the complex by 2027.

Carlos Menchaca. Eagle photo by Andy Katz
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca.
ebrooklyn media/Photo by Andy Katz

The plan would upzone 20 percent of the neighborhood’s industrial waterfront property, which Zuniga and Menchaca fear could exacerbate gentrification and displacement in the neighborhood.

“At this moment in our city’s history, major upzonings often induce real estate activity that can have devastating impacts on current residential and commercial tenants,” the letter reads.

“Sunset Park is a community that is predominantly working class, immigrant and majority-minority. We must be extremely vigilant about weighing the local and citywide benefits of this rezoning with the significant negative consequences on our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Menchaca vowed that he would not support the expansion unless, among other requirements, the city increases its investment in Sunset Park. The letter outlines specific requests in need of mayoral support to make the rezoning possible, as well as broader considerations.

Those requirements include:

  • Expanding the Right to Counsel program to Sunset Park
  • Funding a technical high school modeled on the STEAM Center at Brooklyn Navy Yard
  • Reviewing a legislative package including mandatory job counts by the city for major rezonings

The letter also asked de Blasio’s administration to review:

  • Significant climate and environmental threats to the industrial, working waterfront
  • Widespread housing insecurity among working class and immigrant households
  • Significant underemployment and barriers to quality jobs
  • Ongoing deterioration of the Industrial Business Zone with significant conversion to non-industrial/manufacturing uses
Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball in the Innovation Lab. Photo by Andy Katz
Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball.
ebrooklyn media/File photo by by Andy Katz

Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball put forward the proposal for certification just a month after agreeing to a second delay this year to allow for additional community engagement.

The abrupt filing forced CB7 to call an emergency meeting on Oct. 28 — the same day the application was certified — where Zuniga expressed concerns that they were being rushed. “This takes time, and I just don’t know if the next 60 days is enough time to do what we need to do,” he said. “I’m very concerned about this.”

Community boards are the first party to review land-use applications. They have 60 days to assess it, before providing an advisory decision. It then goes to the borough president, City Planning Commission, City Council and finally the mayor, who generally votes in line with the city council.

Menchaca wields outsize power in the rezoning battle, as the City Council has the final say on whether to approve or kill the application, and councilmembers usually vote in line with the representative whose district is affected.

At press time, the Mayor’s Office had not answered the letter, and it did not respond to a request for comment.

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