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Velazquez on Industry City

Velázquez on Industry City
August 6, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC - Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) released the following statement regarding Industry City:


“It’s come to my attention that several City Council Members who do not represent the Sunset Park community, or even the same borough, have seen fit to advocate on behalf of the Industry City rezoning application.  It would be extraordinarily shortsighted for City Council Speaker Johnson and other members of the Council to pay these misguided views undue heed.


“While this application may look good from ten miles away in the Bronx or Queens, the actual residents of Sunset Park and South Brooklyn have meaningful concerns about how this application would affect their waterfront and community.  It is important to remember that this proposal is unprecedentedly large for a private rezoning application. The rezoning application encompasses six million square feet in New York’s largest Significant Maritime Industrial Area. 


“My office and the local City Council Member have worked tirelessly to engage the community and ensure any path forward is fair, transparent, inclusive and equitable. We’ve had multiple conversations with community residents, activists and stakeholders who are now struggling with caring for their neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their views should not be cast aside and ignored in the interest of expediting an enormous private rezoning during a public health emergency and unprecedented economic crisis.


“Likewise, on multiple occasions we’ve implored the City and its various agencies to take a more proactive role in laying out a plan and strategy for the growth of a green industrial waterfront district. At the very least, the City must engage further to ensure there is accountability in the areas of anti-displacement, commercial rent control, space for manufacturing jobs and environmental sustainability and resiliency. Instead, the City has all but abdicated that responsibility to private property owners.


 “Proponents of the application never tire of citing the promised creation of 20,000 jobs. There are reasons to be skeptical of that highly speculative number. Previous development projects throughout New York City have been pushed through with similarly lofty promises, only to see, at most, a small fraction of anticipated job creation. As it stands, the current application has no meaningful enforcement mechanism to ensure significant job creation materializes – and that those jobs will be the type to benefit the working-class residents of this walk-to-work community. These concerns are compounded by the fact that the current owners could sell the property after rezoning. A future owner would likely not feel bound by previous assurances made during the rezoning application process. An ironclad mechanism to require any future owner lives up to previous promises would require much more participation from city agencies.


“What we do know about projects like these is they inherently fuel a spike in local residential and commercial rents accelerating gentrification and displacing immigrant and other vulnerable families from their homes. If this massive project goes forward, what assurances do we have that long-term residents of Sunset Park won’t see their rents spiral further? The answer is none. How will nearby small businesses on 4th and 5th Avenue see their rents and livelihoods affected? They also have no guarantees they will not be left behind.


“At the end of the day, this issue is not about Industry City or a development plan or a vision for jobs. It's about land use and development rights being conferred onto a very large waterfront property without adequate accountability to or benefit for the community. A blank check to property owners - issued during a historic pandemic - will not result in a more equitable and environmentally just future for Sunset Park and South Brooklyn.”