Now is not the time to rezone Industry City
The proposed rezoning sought by Industry City was developed for the pre-Covid economy. Much has changed that calls into question the assumptions underpinning this proposal. The “creatives” who were the much sought-after tenants for Industry City are fleeing New York and those that remain may have very different office space requirements. At the same time, the need for production capacity was dramatically demonstrated over the past six months as the city struggled to produce personal protective equipment locally to fill in nationwide supply gaps. It was projected that local manufacturers would need to produce 2.4 million face shields and 3.2 million hospital gowns during the pandemic. Moving forward, the City is seeking manufacturers to produce 50,000 test kits each week.
Public access that is essential for residents and small business owners to participate in the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) as required by the New York City Charter is blocked by the obstacles created by the pandemic. And the fundamental flaws in the environmental review process that is supposed to inform land use decisions still conceals the likelihood of displacement and disparate racial impacts.
The city is entering a period of extraordinary change and its future land use needs may have shifted dramatically. Regardless of how much time has been spent on this project, it needs to pause until there is some greater understanding of the impact of the pandemic on the community’s and the city’s future needs.
This community has already developed extensive analysis and articulated recommendations embodied in The Grid by UPROSE. If this project has taken on new citywide importance because of the need for the City to demonstrate its commitment to growth, that does not take anything away from the fact that the project will still have tremendous local impacts. In fact, if the project moves forward, the citywide benefits should trigger additional resources for the community.
Now is the time for the City to reassess the economic environment, and to seek a pathway forward that will prioritize the community’s needs for jobs, for the growth of environmentally responsible industries, for workforce development and other priorities expressed in the community’s plans. It also needs to reflect the greater awareness of the city’s own needs for production capacity while nevertheless permitting a reasonable return on investment for the owners.
In 2007, we sought community input around a proposed rezoning in Sunset Park for then-Councilmember Sara Gonzalez and Community Board 7. The feedback we received from community stakeholders showed that the primary concern was the displacement of residents and the need for affordable homes. More than a decade later, these issues are still the main concern in the Industry City rezoning. Click here to learn more about our work in Sunset park in 2007.