The Real Estate Board of New York said this morning that “political posturing” could cost New York City thousands of jobs after developers dramatically withdrew an application to rezone Industry City in Brooklyn.
President of the Board, James Whelan, said the decision was tantamount to “robbing New York City of nearly 20,000 good-paying jobs at a time when 400,000 New Yorkers have lost their jobs due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball announced early this morning that the property’s owners – Jamestown, Belvedere Capital, and Angelo Gordon— had withdrawn their application for rezoning that would allow them to add one million square feet to the Industry City campus and create classroom and retail space and reinvent derelict warehouse buildings on the site, formerly known as Bush Terminal.
“In late July, it became clear that a number of convergent factors were forcing us to rethink our request to have the property rezoned,” said Kimball in a statement. “Now, despite strong support … it is clear that the current political environment and a lack of leadership precludes a path forward for our rezoning proposal.
“Over and over, we have heard from key decision makers that while the substance of the project is strong, the politics of the moment do not allow them to support any private development project. Therefore, we have decided to withdraw our application and proceed with as-of-right leasing options.”
The controversial plan would have bolstered the city’s own efforts to transform the long-dormant shipyards into a modern manufacturing hub that includes Brooklyn Army Terminal, a Made in New York campus, a wind-power assembly hub and Industry City.
Planning Commissioner Marisa Lago gave her backing to the rezoning, saying she believed it would help rather than hinder the neighborhood.
However, there was staunch opposition among some Brooklynites, led by local Council Member Carlos Menchaca, who disputed the heralded job numbers and said the owners would be better served developing the one million square feet of still-vacant space at the complex without a rezoning he claimed would cause a rise in rents and displacement of working-class, immigrant families.
The council member called the withdrawal of the rezoning application “a win for the Sunset Park community.”
“My position on Industry City has been clear for months,” said Menchaca. “IC’s plan makes tens of thousands of Sunset Park residents more vulnerable at a time of unprecedented economic instability. This is not the way forward.
“We are pleased IC saw the writing on the wall and finally pulled the application. This is a huge win for the Sunset Park Community. People power has triumphed. Our work continues as community voice drives future growth of our neighborhood. ”
Kimball said Industry City would now ush forward with as-of-right leasing options, which some reports have indicated could mean signing distribution companies who covet the location as a last mile delivery post.
REBNY President Whelan said, “With unemployment approaching Great Depression levels and private investment and tax revenue dramatically plummeting, now was the time for negotiations to yield a ‘yes’ on the Industry City rezoning.
“One is left to consider how bad conditions in New York City must get before our political leaders realize that our recovery must be premised on job creation and private investment that will yield the tax revenue to pay for government services.”
Current projections have NYC job loses running to over 500,000 by the end of 2020 as the city stumbles to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Unemployment currently stands at 16 percent and city landlords have been hamstrung by falling rents, rising vacancy and an endless work from home trend.