(NEW YORK, NEW YORK)— Last week, the city approved a rezoning proposal for Industry City, a new development in Sunset Park spearheaded by Jamestown. Although the plan has not yet been finalized, the move instigated uproar. Sunset Park’s representative city councilmember Carlos Menchaca and other community organizers felt that the application was hasty, filed only a few weeks after Industry City’s CEO Andrew Kimball had agreed to further delays, according to The Brooklyn Eagle.Furthermore, the developer had not yet agreed to a community benefits agreement that Menchaca had demanded, Gothamistreports.
Now that the application has been filed, Sunset Park’s community board has only 60 days to review the application. The move effectively cuts short the time that the community had to debate and consider the proposed changes amongst themselves. Rodrigo Camerena, a local activist in Sunset Park, told Gothamist, “The actions by Industry City demonstrate that they don’t want to work with this community. They want it their way or the highway.”
The rezoning was initially proposed in February 2019. In September, after months of negotiation and delay, Menchaca and other leaders of Sunset Park drafted a tentative compromise that would allow for rezoning, granted that the developer signed a community benefits agreement (CBA). Among other demands, The Brooklyn Eagle reported that Menchaca called for Industry City to nix the plans for a hotel, fund a public technical high school, commit to the preservation of affordable housing in Sunset Park, and fund education and organizing related to tenant’s rights.
While the implied disrespect of the application has upset the community, Gothamist explores the possibility that a CBA would actually do very little in the long term. Prior developments with signed CBAs—notably, the Atlantic Yards project—yielded few of the promised community returns. The long and visible history of the ways that development changes a neighborhood, with a CBA or without, is one of the possible reasons that many residents remain so adamantly opposed to rezoning altogether. Residents are suspicious of and even outraged with Menchaca for seemingly representing community needs, while providing a path to compromise that is ultimately difficult or even impossible to enforce.