Local businesses show support for Industry City rezoning plan

August 25, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Local businesses show support for Industry City rezoning plan
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The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and owners of Sunset Park businesses held a Zoom meeting Tuesday to support Industry City’s rezoning plan and urge City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to approve it.

“Six years ago, we were seeing the neighborhood change,” said Pat Whelan, president of Sahadi Fine Foods. “Over time, we realized what was going on there. We were 100 percent wrong to doubt them. It feels like we’re partners with Industry City and the small businesses there. Their success turns out to be our success.”

“I started my business on 36th Street right off of Five Avenue nine years ago and have been in Industry City for three years,” said Eric Aleman, owner of King of Kings Barber Shop. “I really saw an opportunity not just for myself but the neighborhood. It’s been amazing to see the amount of effort IC put into engaging with the neighborhood and being like a beacon of light where other parts of Brooklyn are decaying right in front of us.”

Aleman hopes the $1 billion in private investment and the promise 20,000 jobs will continue despite strong opposition from some elected officials and organizations.

Image via Marino

“It’s heartbreaking that the right conversations haven’t happened,” said Aleman said. “We are doing a disservice by forcing this narrative. We are limiting our people. I was concerned at first. I thought I’d be facing a giant. The problem isn’t Industry City. It’s the opportunities being blocked by the leaders put in place.”

“It’s all about jobs and creating a thriving community,” said Christopher Taylor, co-owner of Li-Lac Chocolates. “Last year, we had a meeting of 40 businesses with our city councilmember and Community Board 7 chair on why we so strongly support this. This is new. You’re not supposed to be supporting your landlord. You’re supposed to be fighting them. So many business tenants are coming out in support of our landlord and I’ve never seen anything like it.

“We need our landlord to be economically viable because Industry City is a viable project. If our landlord decides to walk away because of all this opposition and hostility from a small segment of Sunset Park, that would be a significant negative for us and a lot of tenants in the complex.”

“Small businesses across Brooklyn are suffocating in the midst of this historic economic crisis,” said Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “With the approval of Industry City’s rezoning proposal, Brooklyn has a real opportunity to lead the way forward for New York by creating jobs, generating economic activity and putting thousands of our small businesses back on their feet.”

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