NEW YORK - Plans for a rezoning project in Brooklyn that could have turned an industrial park into a space devoted to manufacturing, retail, and more has been scrapped after fierce opposition from some local lawmakers.
"What we were putting on the table was truly historic," Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball told reporters on a Zoom call Thursday afternoon.
Kimball had pulled a rezoning application off the table just 36 hours earlier, effectively killing plans for an expansion of the 500-business-and-counting ecosystem in the 130-year-old industrial buildings on the waterfront of Brooklyn's Sunset Park.
Kimball had expected the rezoning to create 20,000 new jobs along with offering additional job placement and training in local schools.
"Really creating the pathways to the jobs of the future," he said, "And the entrepreneurial opportunities local folks want and their kids want."
Kimball, who also developed the Brooklyn Navy Yard, blamed a lack of leadership, interest, and vision on the part of local government for the failure of his rezoning plan.
"Particularly the city council," he said.
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"Industry City removing their application protected 14,000 current jobs that are on the working waterfront," City Councilman Carlos Menchaca said.
Menchaca represents Industry City's district and admitted, over years of discussion, he'd hoped he could shape this rezoning to help his community.
"Our communities are actually asking for development," he said, "better development, responsible development."
For Menchaca that meant development from the public sector, keeping profit in his community, retaining Sunset Park's industrial business zone, and adding green jobs.
"It should be building for climate adaption, mitigation, and resilience," UPROSE Executive Director Elizabeth Yeampierre said.
"This is like Amazon all over again," Queens City Councilman Eric Ulrich said. "The City of New York is the only place not open for business."
Ulrich looked at New York City's record unemployment during a public health and economic crisis that might dissuade developers from undertaking major projects like Industry City and wondered how his peers in local government could ever oppose the development. The business group Partnership for New York City agreed.
“Who can have confidence in leaders who are willing to forsake thousands of new jobs at a time when close to a million New Yorkers are or soon will be unemployed?" Partnership for New York City President and CEO Kathryn Wylde wrote in a statement. "The opponents of Industry City have further damaged the prospects for economic recovery from COVID-19.”
"There was a missed opportunity here for the city at a time when it needs projects like this more than ever," Kimball said.