Sunset Park

LISTEN: Should Industry City be rezoned?

May 9, 2019 By Scott Enman, Paul Frangipane, Lawrence Madsen
Industry City's courtyard. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan

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The complex intends to build two hotels, academic space and large retail stores as part of a 10-year, $1 billion redevelopment that would increase its size from roughly 5.3 to 6.5 million square feet.

“It is transformative because Industry City has a huge footprint along the waterfront,” said Tarry Hum, Sunset Park native and head of Queens College’s Department of Urban Studies. “For all those people that are not property owners, you’re at risk. You’re at risk of not being able to afford to stay in that neighborhood anymore. Even if you’re welcomed, you won’t be able to afford it, and you certainly won’t be able to afford it working at the food hall in Industry City.”

With the rezoning involving an industrial area, Eve Baron of Pratt Institute’s Grad Center for Planning, stressed the importance of approaching rezonings with caution.

“For the rezoning to go forward without a very hard look about the importance of our industrial zoned land to the city’s future, I think it can be a problem, it can be precedent setting,” Baron told Brooklyn This Week. “There’s a difference between planning and zoning. And I think that’s where we get into trouble. We need to do as much planning as we do zoning.”

There are however, some local merchants who support the rezoning as a way to boost foot traffic to their businesses.

“The objections I hear on one side, I count over 5,000 added jobs on the other side,” said Pat Whelan, owner of Sahadi’s Fine Foods at Industry City. “The industrial jobs on this waterfront have faded over the last 20 years … so instead of complaining about it, we bought into it.”

In addition to fears of displacement throughout the community, local group UPROSE worries the rezoning could be a lost effort in reinforcing the area’s climate resilience.

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“The tragedy here is that what they’re doing exists all over the city … people who want to have those kinds of opportunities, those services, that kind of coffee, that kind of avocado toast, can go anywhere in the city to get it,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE. “You know what doesn’t exist in the city? What doesn’t exist is an industrial sector that’s building for New York City’s climate future. That doesn’t exist and that’s irresponsible and it’s immoral.”

  • Interview with Scott Enman at 1:34
  • Interview with Tarry Hum at 3:36
  • Interview with Eve Barron at 5:06
  • Interviews with Pat Whelan at 6:42
  • Interview with Ron Shiffman at 8:24
  • Interview with Elizabeth Yeampierre at 10:40

Brooklyn this Week‘s host Lawrence Madsen is a native New Yorker. He attended Columbia University, and volunteers with the disaster relief group Team Rubicon.

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