Sunset Park

Industry City expansion plan receives boost from Brooklyn BP Eric Adams

March 10, 2020 Scott Enman
Industry City. Photo by Paul Frangipane
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Industry City’s contentious waterfront expansion plan received a major win on Monday after Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams issued his recommendations for the rezoning, effectively approving three of four proposed actions — one with conditions — and disapproving the fourth action with conditions.

Adams, who is running for mayor, voted to approve the applicant’s request for the de-mapping of 40th Street and for a newly mapped “special Industry City District.” He approved with conditions a zoning special permit and disapproved with conditions the creation of special district zoning text. (Approving and disapproving with conditions are virtually the same.)

“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,” Adams said. “We have listened closely to the voices of our community in crafting these recommendations and deeply appreciate their robust input during this process.

“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.”

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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

The entire rezoning process has been extremely contentious, pitting those within the Sunset Park community against one another.

The proposed expansion, a $1 billion redevelopment, would add roughly 1.3 million square feet of space to the complex by 2027. The land use application currently includes academic space and hotels, and expanding “innovation economy” maker spaces and retail. Backers say these changes would help bring in investment and tenants that will drive job growth.

Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball said Industry City expects to create more than 20,000 jobs, attract $1 billion in private development and create educational and training resources through the redevelopment.

Critics of the plan, however, say the rezoning could dramatically reshape Sunset Park, exacerbating displacement and gentrification in the largely immigrant, low-income neighborhood. They argue any changes to the Brooklyn waterfront should be geared toward adapting to climate change, protecting blue-collar jobs and preserving the working-class character of the area.

Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball in the Innovation Lab. Photo by Andy Katz
Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball. Photo: Andy Katz/Brooklyn Eagle

Kimball praised Adams’ recommendations, and said his team would continue to work with community leaders as the plan moves forward in the public review process.

“Borough President Eric Adams recognized the merits of this plan that builds for the future of Industry City, particularly its innovative approaches to creating career pathways through academic training and programs that will create greater and more equitable economic opportunity for thousands of New Yorkers,” he said.

Related: What the Industry City rezoning is really about | Opinion

Adams is the second legislative body to issue recommendations on the plan. Community Board 7, which represents Sunset Park, voted in January to disapprove two of four proposed actions on the expansion unless 82 conditions are met by both Industry City and city and state agencies.

Adams, along with the community board, City Planning Commission and City Council are required to issue their recommendations as part of the city’s seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

Both the community board and borough president’s recommendations, however, are advisory.

The City Planning Commission will be next to issue their vote by April 6, followed by the City Council.

Councilmember Carlos Menchaca wields the most power in the rezoning battle. His vote in the City Council is crucial to the proposal’s approval, and he has said he would only support the plan with concessions from Industry City and additional community investment from City Hall. (City Hall has so far rebuffed the request.)

Adams hosted a public hearing on the rezoning in January, but he was forced to end it early due to interruptions from the audience. It was the second such gathering on the rezoning that ended prematurely due to disturbances.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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