Public Review Starts for Controversial Rezoning of Sunset Park’s Industry City, Angering Locals

Rendering via Industry City

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A proposal to expand Sunset Park’s Industry City is moving forward, despite resistance from local residents and politicians.

The Department of City Planning officially kicked off the public review process for a controversial rezoning of the industrial waterfront complex Industry City when it certified an application from owner Bush Terminal Friday. The long-in-the-works plan seeks to rezone the industrial property to allow for hotels and additional space for retail and offices. Critics have said they fear the plan will bring gentrification to the area and take away high-paying factory jobs.

The timing of the start of the city’s official public review process, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, apparently surprised local residents and politicians, who condemned the move.

“I find Industry City’s decision to seek certification at this time troubling, and therefore I continue to be prepared to vote “no” when this rezoning proposal comes before the City Council,” Council Member Carlos Menchaca said in a statement.

There is not “enough time to craft a rezoning plan that protects and uplifts our most vulnerable neighbors,” he added. “Remember, we are contemplating an enormous rezoning because of one private developer’s interests, not because our neighborhood has called for it.”

Rendering via Industry City

The proposed expansion, according to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, would increase Industry City’s presence to approximately 6.6 million gross square feet in total. This includes approximately 1.33 million gross square feet of manufacturing and office, 700,000 gross square feet of retail, 387,000 gross square feet of new academic use, 272,000 gross square feet of new hotel use and 33,000 gross square feet of event space.

This will unfurl over two sections. The first, referred to as the Finger Buildings, comprises 10 buildings between 2nd and 3rd avenues, stretching from 32nd through 37th streets. The second section is called the 39th Street Buildings, which stretches between 39th and 41st streets along 2nd Avenue.

Map via Department of City Planning

Menchaca claims that the sudden start of the ULURP process represents Industry City developers going against a prior agreement. “Neither I nor a majority of my community could support Industry City’s original proposal,” he said in a statement. After requesting a delay to the process in March 2019, he says that the developers accepted requested modifications, including the removal of the two hotels, the reduction of retail space and the addition of a manufacturing hub and a public technical high school.

“However,” he said in his statement, “their decision to seek certification today is a departure from that vision to truly partner with the Sunset Park community.”

sunset park industry city proposed rezoning

Photo by Mary Hautman

But it’s unclear if Menchaca and the residents of Sunset Park are on the same page. “This is a bad faith start to a process that is inherently flawed and has kept Sunset Park tenants and small business owners in a state of constant anxiety and distress,” members of the local activist group Protect Sunset Park said in a statement.

They are demanding Menchaca “reject the Industry City rezoning plan and usher in a public planning process that is community led, transparent, and aims to address the broader needs of our community.”

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