BY CHARLES F. OTEY
Superachiever Kathy Wylde could mediate a fair Industry City solution
As noted here before, during the last several years one of the bright spots on the urban scene has been Sunset Park’s Industry City — a 16-building complex along Third Avenue that has become a hub for artist studios and manufacturing bases for local food markets.
Brooklynites and others from all over shop there, attend popular dance parties in the summer and enjoy the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg throughout the winter.
In short, the natural, organic growth of Industry City, which for decades was a sullen brick tribute to municipal indifference, has helped the area make an astounding comeback. So much so that some developers want to remake and repurpose the area, forcing out small businesses and igniting realistic fears of gentrification.
They’ve held out the lure of 20,000 jobs and up to $1 billion in improvements to activate Industry City’s development into a kind of economic super-drive.
While many city councilmembers have become addicted to job creation (not as a fact, but a seldom-delivered fiction), Sunset Park Councilmember Carlos Menchaca has steadfastly stood up for the people he represents. They’ve turned on him, but he hasn’t turned on the largely Latinx community he represents.
He’s held out against the “go-ahead,” knowing it will revolutionize and gentrify much of his electorate practically overnight.
Could Wylde, Scissura team up to solve Industry City problem?
Most people know that Kathryn Wylde is president and CEO of the prestigious nonprofit Partnership for New York City, the city’s leading business organization.
What most don’t realize is that given her marketing and negotiating skills — coupled critically with her unique historic role in the development of modern Sunset Park — she might be the ideal person to negotiate a settlement of the controversial mammoth Industry City redevelopment.
As an internationally recognized expert on urban policy, it seems to this writer that Wylde would be the ideal person to help mediate a solution to the knotty Industry City challenge.
Granted, she has already come out in favor of the project, but she’s known to have an open and flexible mind and has a very special relationship with Sunset Park, which gives her insights others may not have.
Eminently qualified to help reach a settlement that would not nullify the true nature of the neighborhood is Carlo Scissura, who heads the New York Building Congress. He also has come out in favor of the original proposal. Coincidentally, both Wylde and Scissura reside in Bay Ridge, which has had a partnership of sorts with adjacent Sunset Park for decades.
Brooklyn Democrats recognize Scissura’s significant skills
Months back, as Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio was preparing to step down, scores of district leaders broke protocol by electing Scissura to the largely ceremonial chairmanship of the Kings County Democratic Committee vacated last fall.
“I’m excited,” Scissura said. “I love Brooklyn and I love to organize.”
The party’s 42 district leaders voted to appoint Scissura — who was nominated for the position by Seddio. The role, which was vacated by Joseph Bova last September, came with the responsibility of chairing the county committee’s frequently chaotic twice-yearly meetings, which some politicos hopes will be run better under his leadership.
Scissura currently heads the construction industry trade group the New York Building Congress and has taken a major role on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s expert panel studying the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway repairs plan. He previously was the president and chief executive officer of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. He has served as former Borough President Marty Markowitz’s chief of staff and ran for his boss’s position in 2012, before dropping out to take over the Brooklyn Chamber gig.
We can think of no more capable or experienced team to calm the roiling waters engulfing the future of Industry City while still recognizing the humanity of the thousands of people who will be uprooted and cast aside if developers have their way.
Menchaca’s stubborn “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” defense of his constituents must not go for naught; we suggest the ultra-talented team of Wylde and Scissura be empowered to reach a settlement that will bring prosperity and progress (not at-will gentrification) to the Industry City debate.
It must be noted that the late Gov. Mario Cuomo first gained wide notice when he came to the aid of threatened homeowners in Corona, Queens.
Scissura has the background, intellect and human concern that must guide the next person who rules at City Hall. His work on smoothing the BQE crisis in Brooklyn Heights, coupled with the calming capacity he brings to each assignment in public and private, should put him at the top of the list of those who could and should run New York City.