Sunset Park’s Industry City Pulls Controversial Rezoning Application

Photo by Mary Hautman

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Industry City leaders withdrew the rezoning application for the sprawling Sunset Park complex on Tuesday after a host of Brooklyn lawmakers announced their opposition to the plan.

“Sadly, in the context of one in five New Yorkers losing their jobs and the City’s fiscal crisis spiraling out of control, the leadership needed to approve this development failed to emerge. Therefore, we have decided to withdraw our application and proceed with as-of-right leasing options,” Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball said in a statement.

The withdrawal, first reported by Politico, comes only weeks before the City Council was set to vote on the application. If approved, the rezoning would have paved the way for a $1 billion renovation of the 35-acre campus that would add big box retail, academic space, and other uses to the waterfront complex.

Industry City’s owners — a partnership between Jamestown Properties, Angelo Gordon, and Belvedere Capital — first considered scrapping the rezoning application in July when local Councilman Carlos Menchaca vowed to vote the scheme down.

sunset park industry city proposed rezoning

Rendering via Industry City

But the application’s approval from the City Planning Commission — as well as the vocal support of three Council members — seemed to reassure the owners, who plowed ahead with the approval process. The city’s land use procedure, known as ULURP, was set to end by mid-November with a Council vote.

Through Industry City representatives did not say why the owners pulled the application, a September 22 letter against the rezoning by four Brooklyn Congress members and six state representatives may have sounded the death knell for the scheme.

In the letter, the lawmakers argued that the rezoning may cause the displacement of the area’s working class community, and urged the city to work on a public plan for the district instead.

“Rather than cede leadership to a private developer forging ahead with their application, the city should take the initiative to reassess the economic environment, its manufacturing needs (particularly with the new mandates in recently passed climate acts), the needs of the local community for jobs, and the future of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone,” wrote the local leaders.

industry city

Photo by Craig Hubert

Kimball blamed the rezoning’s failure on politics, and implicitly blasted local officials for prioritizing their political motives over benefits to the community.

“Over and over, we have heard from key decision makers that while the substance of the project is strong, the politics of the moment do not allow them to support any private development project,” he said in a statement. “Even the historic nature of our commitments – which significantly elevated the bar for future development projects – and a seven-year record of creating jobs and opportunity weren’t enough to overcome purely political consideration.”

Local opponents said they feared the development would increase rents in the area by attracting an upscale clientele and said they hoped high-paying manufacturing jobs, including green businesses, would come to the waterfront.

Editor’s note: A version of this story originally ran in Brooklyn Paper. Click here to see the original story.

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