Planning Commission Says Industry City Rezoning Should Break Precedent, Move Forward
The Industry City rezoning proposal's approval prospects just got a boost from the city.
The New York City Planning Commission voted 11-1 Wednesday to recommend the New York City Council approve the Industry City rezoning — a move that has garnered support from the real estate community while prompting outcry from Sunset Park residents and the neighborhood's city council representative.
The vote comes after a month of controversy around the rezoning. Several council members took the unusual step of publicly supporting the project despite adamant objections to the proposal from the council member from Sunset Park, Carlos Menchaca.
The rezoning is projected to create 20,000 jobs and $100M in tax revenue, Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball said.
“We will continue to make the case for this proposal and look forward to working with the City Council and other community stakeholders as the approval process enters its final phase,” Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball said in a statement to Bisnow Wednesday.
Planning Commission Chair Marisa Lago, who also heads the city's Department of City Planning, pointed to the rezoning proposal’s projected job creation as a key reason that it should be pushed through, especially amid a pandemic that has devastated New York City's economy and its communities. But advocates say the plan will push working-class people of color out of the neighborhood.
Menchaca railed at the decision in a statement Wednesday, accusing the commission of ignoring the impact that the rezoning will have on the community. He claimed there was little evidence that these jobs will go to the people living in the community now.
“While the City Planning Commission’s vote is unsurprising, given its development-at-any-costs mentality, it is still remarkable, and deeply offensive to the Sunset Park community, that the Commission defended their decision with weak reasoning and glaring omissions,” Menchaca said. “There is scant evidence to suggest that Industry City has created jobs for the working-class immigrant families who the Commission believes will benefit from the rezoning.”
He doubled down on his belief that the city's rezoning approval process ignores the plight of communities of color, many of which have been displaced as a result of rezoning efforts.
“That this displacement will occur is a demonstrable fact of any large-scale rezoning or development project in New York City’s history,” he said. “For the Commission to ignore Sunset Park’s main concern with the project, while simultaneously declaring that these residents will benefit most from the rezoning, will go down in history as one of the most tone-deaf remarks during this unprecedented economic crisis."
Residents and local activists decried the vote as racist, said it would not help the community and vowed to fight the rezoning moving forward.
“The City Planning Commission turned their backs on Sunset Park by prioritizing a rezoning plan that threatens to displace the backbone of our immigrant community,” Sunset Park resident Antoinette Martinez, an organizer with the Protect Sunset Park coalition, said in a statement.
Yesterday, when Mayor Bill de Blasio was in the Sunset Park neighborhood, members of the coalition asked the mayor if he would look at their alternative plans for the community.
“Give me your plan, I will look at your plan, I already told your colleague I will look at your plan,” de Blasio said in a recording Bisnow viewed. “I am not committing to anything, I don’t want to lie to you, but I will look at your plan.”
Local activists vowed to continue to fight the rezoning.
“We will continue to fight for the soul of Sunset Park and for every NYC neighborhood pushing to promote racial equity in land use decisions,” Martinez said. “We welcome City Council members to join us in the fight to dismantle NYC's racist land review process by voting against Industry City’s application.”
Other members of the real estate and construction community lauded the commission's recommendation. New York Building Congress President Carlo Scissura said that the move will help the city recover from the economic crisis.
“This is the type of investment we need right now, and I applaud the City Planning Commission,” he said. “We must continue to move forward towards delivering a project that will further lift up the Sunset Park community. I urge the City Council to approve Industry City, which will help our city bounce back to be even stronger than we were before.”