Sunset Park

Menchaca gives Industry City tight deadline to revise expansion plan

September 18, 2019 Scott Enman
City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca speaks at the community meeting with UPS. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca sent a letter Tuesday evening to Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball, formally asking him to commit in writing — by Thursday — to abandon his current rezoning application and revise it with the modifications outlined at Monday’s contentious meeting.

“My main finding is that the current rezoning application before the City Planning Commission is a non-starter,” Menchaca wrote. “It will exacerbate gentrification, displacement, and rising rents; leave the community unprepared for climate change; and fail to preserve or strengthen the manufacturing and industrial character of the waterfront.”

The politician said on Monday that he would “never, ever” allow Industry City’s current rezoning proposal to move forward unless the developers first concede to a set of rigid conditions, and the Mayor’s Office and City Council then increase investment into Sunset Park.

Industry City filed its application for rezoning in February and amended some technical details this past Friday, according to the Department of City Planning. At a Community Board 7 Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday, some board members said they felt the application may come before them for review as early as Monday.

Menchaca said his second finding — which he called equally important — is that if he were to allow Industry City’s current business model to continue, it would exacerbate the aforementioned trends.

Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball in the Innovation Lab. Photo by Andy Katz
Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball. Eagle file photo by Andy Katz

The letter, obtained by the Brooklyn Eagle, promises a future for the plan if Kimball can commit to altering the proposal.

Those amendments include removing hotels, establishing an irreducible minimum amount of space restricted for industrial uses, and limiting the amount, size and location of retail uses.

“I believe there is a path forward to address these negative impacts through a rezoning, but only on the community’s terms and with the community’s interest at the center,” he wrote.

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“This is the first step, the details of which you agree to finalize through meetings and discussions in the coming week,” he added.

Industry City’s leaders have expressed a preference to hash out the details through ULURP, the city’s land-use process, but Menchaca is unwilling to negotiate during ULURP’s limited timeline, which he called “flawed” and similar to a “back-door negotiation.”

“We look forward to working with Councilmember Menchaca and our neighbors in Sunset Park to conclude an agreement that will allow the job-creating effort that is already underway to continue and grow,” said Lisa Serbaniewicz, a spokesperson for Industry City.

A staffer for Menchaca told the Eagle that the Thursday deadline was implemented to receive Kimball’s decision as fast as possible. “We’re not anticipating that he won’t reply,” the employee said.

“Unless these conditions are met, I will not support the certification of your rezoning application, and will oppose it if it comes before the City Council,” Menchaca concludes in his letter. “There is a way forward here. I await your response by Thursday, Sept. 19.”

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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