Sunset Park Waterfront Plan Gets CB Committee Approval

Sunset Park’s not only all about the rezoning nowadays: The neighborhood’s waterfront district has also been the subject of a long-in-the-making 197-a plan (city planning-speak for a framework meant to guide development, usually for formerly industrial nabes—197-a’s have been adopted in Red Hook, Greenpoint and Williamsburg). Last night Community Board 7 held a pre-submission public hearing about the plan, which covers the massive stretch of waterfront from 15th to 65th streets; the 197-a has been in the works since 1996 but is only now going through the formal city review process. As you’d expect from a plan more than ten years in the making, the framework covers a lot of ground (the 256-page document is available in its entirety here). Among other things, the plan seeks to spur industrial development (possibly by establishing a container facility near 65th street); improve transportation conditions generally and access to the Gowanus Expressway specifically; encourage environmentally sound business practices and the clean up brownfield sites; and, perhaps most exciting, fast track the creation of a waterfront park between 43rd and 51st streets. About 30 people showed up for the hearing, including representatives from the New York Industrial Rentention Network and the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. After a 45-minute presentation by Jocelyne Chait (the consultant who helped put the plan together) and questions from the audience, the 197A Committee voted unanimously to support the proposal, which means it goes in front of the entire community board at Wednesday’s meeting. If it’s approved at that level (as is expected), it will be sent on to the Department of City Planning.
Sunset Park One Step Closer to Rezoning [Brownstoner]

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  • All of those great industrial buildings on the waterfront should be….for industry. We are losing what little industrial base we have left in this city, Brooklyn specifically. If small businesses and entrepenureal spirit truly makes this country’s economy work, then we should do whatever we can to insure that space for light industry is available. Every building can’t be condos. Sunset Park is primarily a working class neighborhood, developed to a great extent because of the industry that flourished in those buildings. Those people, as well as everyone else, need local jobs.

  • The plan represents eleven years of work and thoughtful consideration by many stakeholders in the community. The plan itself acknowledges, and seeks to preserve, one of NYC’s last remaining working industrial waterfronts, but does so in a way that encourages sustainable industrial development. The jobs our waterfront creates has helped to sustain generations of Sunset Park residents, especially immigrant families. We are the only neighborhood in NYC where 44% of our residents walk to work. In many ways, Sunset Park’s waterfront is critically important to NYC’s economy as a whole.

    Randy Peers
    Chairperson, CB7

  • Agreed that it is essential to keep as much of a working waterfront in Brooklyn. Looks like this extensive plan (though have not waded through the whole plan,just reviewed the site the CB set up) could be a model for other Community Boards. Although there’s not that much working waterfront left in Brooklyn, sadly. Williamsburg is a classic example of the opposite of this plan.

    More reason to work to preserve Sunset Park’s.

  • I used to work in the Brooklyn Army Terminal and that is one COOL building!

  • Williamsburg should have been a MODEL for this plan. The Sunset Park waterfront will never be anything more than a big box/warehouse district. New York City will never be an industrial town ever again. Why fight it?

    This is the same argument that was used to keep the South Bronx a wasteland for decades – democrats always crave the return of union votes.

    It won’t happen.

  • Why fight it? Because a healthy city has industry. We’ve lost the garment center in Manhattan, for the most part. That was short sighted as well. Fashion used to provide a huge segment of the population with jobs, from machine operators to sales staff to factory owners. Now only a few factories and businesses that support design are left. Some of them have moved to Sunset Park, they should stay. If we become essentially a one industry town, even if that industry is finance, we are asking to have what happened to Detroit happen to us. Why put all eggs in one basket? Creativity and entrepeneurial spirit are supposed to be what brings people to this city. We can’t let it all go with a shrug. Even the masters of the universe need people to create products that they use. It can’t come from China forever. Sooner or later someone’s going to look at these buildings as potential cool condos, especially those on the waterfront. Probably have already. Industry for many is more important than condos for a wealthy few.

  • No single community board actually wants industry. If these decisions were left up to the community boards there would be nothing but parks and houses. Thats why these decisions have to be made by the city as a whole as to what is in the best interests of the whole city.

    And, industry didn’t just walk away from NYC. For the most part it was chased away when the port moved to Jersey. And the Port didn’t just move, that was a conscious government decision, a decision many now regret largely driven by transportation changes.

    There is a great book on the subject called “Assasination of New York” which documents the planners trade of 400,000 port and industry related jobs for 50,000 finance, insurance and real estate jobs. Of the 8 million people who live here 2 million are always going to be poor and have little formal education or training. Other than as servants for the wealthy commuting from bantustans in the suburbs and slums there is nothing for them but what remains of industry.

    Congressman Nadlers proposal for a freight tunnel can turn this all around but he needs space in Sunset Park.

  • Jeez…talk about embarrasing…you guys are here seriously trying to argue against the possible beautification of what has, for at least the 24 years I’ve lived in that neighborhood (45th and 3rd), been an *empty* (you would be surprised how many of those industrial buildings are idle already) and *disgusting* neighborhood. I remember I interned at Community Board 7 almost 10 years ago, when the board first started talking about this seriously. I listened with a smile on my face…this could really clean up this neighborhood once and for all. If anyone seriously objects to the concept of building a park in this place, I would be totally amazed.

    Maybe you guys are just trying to defend the niceness of your own neighborhoods or something (you know, fuck Sunset Park, it’s a ghetto anyway down there right?), but I simply can’t see a good reason not to do this, and neither should anyone else.

  • FYI:

    The 197-a plan (11 years in the making) was voted on by the full Community Board last night and unanimously approved. Onward to City Planning.