Sunset Park

Sunset Park councilman to announce stance on Industry City expansion

September 10, 2019 Scott Enman
Carlos Menchaca. Eagle photo by Andy Katz
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After roughly six months of community hearings, rallies and town halls, Councilmember Carlos Menchaca will announce on Monday where he stands on Industry City’s proposed rezoning, which may determine whether or not it will move forward, a spokesperson for his office confirmed to Crain’s.

Menchaca, who represents Sunset Park, plays an influential role in the fate of the expansion, a proposal that seeks to transform the waterfront industrial site into an “innovation economy” hub characterized by makers, creatives, retailers and academic spaces.

Related: One politician could decide the fate of Industry City’s rezoning

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The local politician revealed on Thursday that he would be holding an event at Sunset Park High School titled “Should Sunset Park rezone Industry City?” on Monday, Sept. 16. Menchaca said on his Twitter page that he will “present his findings” on the rezoning at the gathering.

The event was announced a day after more than 75 Sunset Park residents rallied against the proposed rezoning in front of his office. Protesters urged him to vote against the plan, brandishing signs and chanting, “Sunset Park is not for sale!” and, “Industry City has got to go!” They also presented him with more than 3,000 signatures against the expansion.

Normally, the local councilmember in a rezoning process will wait to reveal his opinion until the end of a nearly seven-month process once the area community board, borough president and Department of City Planning provide recommendations.

Menchaca wields outsize power in the rezoning battle, as the City Council has the final say, and councilmembers usually vote in line with the representative whose district is affected. If Menchaca chooses to oppose the proposal, it’s highly unlikely to become a reality.

Industry City submitted their rezoning application in March, but Menchaca forced its postponement to allow for more community input.

Industry City’s backers want zoning changes so they can 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.

Critics of the proposal say it could dramatically reshape Sunset Park, exacerbating displacement in the largely immigrant low-income community.

Industry City. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

A spokesperson told Crain’s that Menchaca may require a portion of Industry City to be reserved for manufacturing and light industry. He also may call for a vocational school at the property, according to Crain’s.

That sentiment is line with comments Menchaca made to the Brooklyn Eagle in March when he said he would work to ensure that the rezoning would not erode the protections for current and future manufacturing workers in New York City.

“For years, advocates and communities have argued for the need to preserve manufacturing and industrial zones, recognizing them as a pathway to economic security for low-skill or immigrant workers,” Menchaca said. “The city, too, has recognized the need to protect manufacturing areas from encroaching uses by designating Industrial Business Zones around the city — including Sunset Park.

“If Industry City’s rezoning were to happen, it would represent a massive rezoning of one of these Industrial Business Zones. Industry wants its neighbors to rezone its property to build hotels, big box retail and a host of other amenities. These are not obviously industrial or manufacturing uses.”

“Should Sunset Park rezone Industry City?” will take place on Monday from 6-10 p.m. at Sunset Park High School.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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