As reported by The City on 9.15.20:
On Tuesday, the City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed rezoning for the sprawling waterfront complex that has become a flash point in competing visions of New York City’s future and how government officials should guide it. The Council must act by mid-November and either send the plan to the mayor for final approval or vote it down.
Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball and businesses like Diaz Electric and Sahadi’s say the future lies in a combination of modern manufacturing, a home for tech and other related creative companies, and retailing.
The proposed expansion, they say, will result in 20,000 jobs at the complex and adjacent areas, and $100 million in additional tax revenue.
On Monday, Kimball announced that he would be willing to tie full use of the new space to meeting specific thresholds for jobs and the hiring of local residents, to be negotiated before the Council votes on the proposal.
Community activists contend that the vision Kimball is selling is a hoax and that the owners are engaged in real estate speculation that will create expensive offices and luxury retailing. The result, they say, will send nearby rents soaring, displace current residents and offer very few good jobs to those who live in the working-class neighborhood…
But some Council members, including Ritchie Torres (D-The Bronx), Donovan Richards (D-Queens) and Robert Cornegy (D-Brooklyn) say the city desperately needs the jobs Industry City will bring and that Menchaca’s position must be overridden.
“You don’t have to be an economist to know that to stave off a recession or depression, which is what we are headed for is to create jobs,” said Cornegy, adding he has visited the complex 14 times. “We have that opportunity to do that in Brooklyn with Industry City.”…
The story of Industry City began in 2013 when Kimball convinced Jamestown Properties, then best known as the developer of the Chelsea Market, to buy the derelict former industrial buildings that are part of the old Bush Terminal complex…
A central passageway connects all the buildings with many public spaces, including clusters of specialty food and drink venues that serve as a magnet for visitors.
Some 550 businesses located there employed 8,000 people before the pandemic shutdown. That’s 10 times the number of businesses and a four-fold increase in jobs since 2013, Industry City officials report.
A million square feet are used for warehouse and distribution, another 1 million for manufacturing, 900,000 for office, 400,000 for art and design firms and 20,000 for retail.
Rents range from $15 a square foot to the mid $30s, cheap by New York standards…
Kimball said the tenants have enthusiastically embraced an existing workforce center at the site that helps prepare and place people from the neighborhood in jobs — a practice he says would extend to an expanded Industry City.
“It’s just good business,” Kimball said. “People who can walk here stay in their jobs longer.”
Opponents, however, reject almost every contention Kimball makes.
They say Industry City has released only the favorable results of the survey and they want to see the underlying data to be sure the company is not manipulating the figures. They also demand full disclosure of the owners’ financial plans.
Foes of the expansion proposal are convinced Industry City will be converted into a Jamestown luxury mall, accelerating displacement of longtime local residents…
“Of course manufacturing has a future and one that involves work with your hands, and immigrant Sunset Park is well positioned to be a center of the work to make the kinds of large installations like windmills to fight climate change,” says Jorge Muniz-Reyes, one of the group’s organizers…
Counters Jackie Capriles: “Industry City used to be a place with abandoned businesses and drug addicts. They have turned it around. My daughter is 14 and I want to make this a better place for her.”
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As reported by Politico on 9.16.20:
Battle lines have been drawn over Industry City, one of the biggest development proposals on the table for New York’s post-pandemic future. The Brooklyn project, which reached the City Council for a hearing Tuesday, would expand the hub on Sunset Park’s waterfront with retail, offices and more manufacturing, and if you believe the developers, spur the creation of 15,000 new jobs.
On one side is City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, who believes it will drive gentrification in his district and whose opposition would normally be enough to kill the proposal under the Council’s traditions. On the other is a vocal contingent of Council Democrats — Ritchie Torres, Donovan Richards, and Robert Cornegy — who believe a city in an economic crisis cannot afford to lose out on potentially thousands of jobs, and want the body to override Menchaca and allow it to go forward.
In the middle: Bill de Blasio. Amid questions about what his vision for the city’s economic recovery looks like, the mayor has steadfastly declined to take a position. Council members lamented that City Hall has been missing in action, per the Real Deal, and support may hinge on the mayor wading in at the last minute. But on Tuesday, he was sticking to his stance that this isn’t his problem because it’s a private proposal. “The important thing is to let the City Council do its deliberations for now,” he said. Also unclear is the position of Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who finds himself caught between activists on the left and pro-business forces as he mulls whether to go forward with his own run for mayor.
Reps questioned the developers on whether their jobs projections can be believed, considering that the city’s economy has tanked since the estimates were first made. A vote is due by November.
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As reported by City Limits on 9.16.20:
City Council members poked and prodded Industry City leaders Tuesday on their rezoning proposal, focusing on accountability, transparency and job projections during a land-use subcommittee hearing.
The Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee hearing marked the next step as the private application for the Sunset Park waterfront development project moves through the public review process or ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure).
Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball said in his testimony that the rezoning proposal for an expansion could bring in an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 jobs–15,000 on site and 5,000 off site.
However during the hearing Kimball clarified that of those 15,000 jobs, an estimated 8,000 already exist at Industry City.
Subcommittee Zoning and Franchises Chair and Queens Councilmember Francisco Moya questioned Kimball about how those jobs could be guaranteed since they depended heavily on Industry City tenants hiring locally. “So how are you calculating the job creation estimates? And since these are not jobs directly generated by Industry City, you can’t truly guarantee that these jobs will exist?,” asked Moya.
Brooklyn Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, in whose district the proposal falls under and who has publicly rejected the proposal asked whether there was an opportunity to make local hiring a requirement in the lease for future Industry City tenants…
Kimball said Industry City has a track record of successfully creating thousands of jobs but no landlord could guarantee Industry City tenants would hire locally. “The way you are successful with workforce development and with onsite employment centers is by making it an amenity for the tenants, not a penalty. The minute you show up in a small business space and say, you have to sign all these legally binding things, or we’re not going to lease the space to you, that’s the moment they say goodbye [and] go somewhere else,” said Kimball.
Kimball added the rezoning proposal was supported by local labor unions–some of which spoke in support of the rezoning proposal at the hearing.
While Richards and Cornegy were both supportive of the rezoning proposal, each did raise concerns about job creation and what type of transparency Industry City would provide on worker demographics and income…
Kimball said he could not comment on the city administration’s approach and added that Industry City was committed to showing transparency and report to an independent group under a legally binding agreement.
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As reported by Brownstoner on 9.16.20:
Is there a way to guarantee new jobs at Industry City?
There seems to be some debate on this issue. Despite the promise by the Sunset Park complex’s CEO Andrew Kimball of 20,000 new jobs as part of a proposed rezoning—the topic of a public hearing yesterday hosted by the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises—many in the local community feel that, in addition to the speculative nature of that promise, there needs to be greater accountability and admission of long term impacts that zoning changes at Industry City will cause on the surrounding neighborhood.
“Promises by major developers are broken every day,” said Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who has been outspoken in his rejection of the current proposal to rezone.
It turns out that the estimate of 20,000 jobs that has been thrown around by Industry City officials, as well as like-minded local politicians in editorials last month in the pages of the New York Daily News, is just a guess. “I don’t think anybody can make that guarantee,” Kimball said when pressed repeatedly about the numbers.
He agreed to work with a city agency to bring more transparency to those numbers, as well as that the jobs go to local residents if the proposal is passed.
But in the midst of COVID-19, the question of jobs has become even more urgent. Nearly 200 people signed up to speak at the virtual public hearing, roughly split down the middle in their support or opposition to the proposal. Prior to the meeting, members of the Brooklyn Democratic Party signed a letter urging the City Council to vote in line with Menchaca….
“We are suffering. Small businesses need help,” said local resident David Estrada, who was against the current proposal. “Can we set a new example to this city for how to do this together?”
For residents and the developer behind Industry City to work together, many in the neighborhood feel that what is needed is a strong, legally-binding Community Benefits Agreement. But as the process has dragged on, others feel that what is most urgent is not letting a plan slip through the cracks.
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— Posted by JVS on 9.17.20