Borough President Approves Industry City’s Up-zoning Request, With Conditions

Photo courtesy of Industry City

SUNSET PARK – Borough President Eric Adams approved Industry City’s rezoning request with a few caveats on Monday, March 9.

Andrew Kimball, the CEO of Industry City, says he wants to use the additional space to create an “Innovation Economy District.” Borough President Adams endorsed this goal and expressed a desire to make Brooklyn a hub for startup tech companies. The rezoning would allow an additional 1.46 million square feet of mixed use space — the equivalent of five extra blocks. The zoning change would also allow for more commercial and educational uses, as well as parking garages.

Housing advocates and Sunset Park residents criticize the potential environmental and housing impacts of Industry City’s plan for expansion.

Borough President Adams acknowledged these concerns, pointing to a New York City Department of Planning statistic that says 50.2% of Community District 7, where Industry City is located, is rent-burdened — higher than the average in Brooklyn. 

“We have listened closely to the voices of our community in crafting these recommendations and deeply appreciate their robust input during this process,” said Borough President Adams. “Industry City has the potential, with changes to the application such as those proposed in these recommendations, to become a vibrant, mixed-use project that truly addresses the needs of Sunset Park while continuing Brooklyn’s explosive growth trajectory.”

Borough President Adams’s recommendation includes a text amendment that eliminates the possibility of building hotels in Industry City and restricts the location of educational buildings in order to protect them from climate change related flooding. It also puts a cap on the size of retail establishments in an attempt to prevent big box stores from opening. 

  • The recommendation provides an exception for one large grocery store, which was requested by Community Board 7 during their review process.
  • The text amendment also mandates that every square foot of amusement or retail space is matched by 1.6 square feet of floor area for public benefit uses like education. The total floor area allocated for retail and amusement is capped at 750,000 square feet.
  • Other requirements include a restriction on trucking terminals, a bi-annual report detailing marketing and leasing activities, a public commitment to support Sunset Park’s immigrant community and a partnership with community-based organizations. It is unclear in what ways Industry City is expected to support the community, who would judge if this commitment was fulfilled and how Industry City would be held accountable for fulfilling these promises. 
  • In response to complaints about the environmental impact of the upzoning, Borough President Adams recommended electric car charging stations and bicycle parking, and pointed to the potential for rooftop solar panels and green rooftops.
  • He cites UPROSE, a Latino community organization that has been protesting Industry City’s rezoning request, in his call for the city to complete the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, a 26-mile waterfront bike path that is not yet complete in Sunset Park.
  • To address the displacement concerns of Sunset Park residents and housing advocates, Borough President Adams turned to New York City’s housing bureaucracies and called on the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to set aside dedicated funding for affordable housing and to increase funding for tenant advocacy and counseling organizations. Many of these groups oppose Industry City’s rezoning application.
  • Borough President Adams also called on HPD to expand the Certification of No Harassment (CONH) requirement to all of CD7. CONH mandates that landlords prove they have not harassed tenants in order to become eligible for occupancy changes or demolition. A representative from HPD said it is too early in the ULURP process to know whether or not these recommendations would be feasible.
  • Adams also asked the city to re-examine his 2014 plan to replace a Brooklyn Army Terminal parking lot with an affordable housing development.

“These recommendations represent a holistic, comprehensive vision for the future of Industry City to both address the needs of long-time Brooklynites and revitalize this long-neglected area by promoting the growth of good-paying jobs in maker industries for local residents,” said Borough President Adams. 

Protect Sunset Park, a community organization that has been protesting the rezoning, issued a statement condemning Borough President Adams’s recommendations, saying they do not do enough to protect Industry City’s neighbors.

“Instead of standing to protect Sunset Park, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is siding with Industry City’s landlords to replace our manufacturing waterfront with a large luxury retail mall,” said Michael Medina, an organizer for Protect Sunset Park. “We need our elected officials to prioritize a public waterfront plan. Not another corporate rezoning.”

Protect Sunset Park called on City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca to publicly announce he will veto the application.

The next steps are for the City Planning Commission will look over the application and Borough President Adams’s recommendations. If they approve, the application will move on to the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has the final say.

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Curtis Brodner

Curtis is a reporter for Bklyner. Message me with tips, questions and lavish praise (or complaints) at curtis@bklyner.com or on Twitter @CurtisBrodner.

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