September 26, 2023


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Industry City Project in Brooklyn Defeated by Progressives

Industry City, an industrial complex built in the 1890s, has been rebranded as a 21st-century hub for small businesses and artists, and its owners have wanted to expand the site with new office and commercial space.

In 2013, Jamestown, the developer that owns Chelsea Market, and its partners — the investment firms Belvedere Capital and Angelo Gordon — bought a nearly 50 percent stake in the 16-building complex. Jamestown renovated the buildings, which were flooded during Hurricane Sandy.

The complex grew to include more than 500 businesses, such as a food hall, a film-production company and a training center for the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. Under the rezoning, the developers wanted to expand it further, including by adding space for offices, retail, manufacturing, art studios, academic institutions and parking. An initial plan to add hotels was dropped to try to win over elected officials.

The proposal to rezone the area was stridently opposed by a handful of community groups, most notably Uprose, an environmental justice group, and Protect Sunset Park. The grass-roots opposition helped win over local elected officials, including Representatives Nydia M. Velázquez, Jerrold Nadler, Yvette D. Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries, who sent a letter to the City Council on Tuesday opposing the rezoning and urging council members to listen to residents.

“What the Sunset Park community has made clear is rezoning such a large portion of the waterfront for a single private actor is not in the best interests of the residents,” the letter said.

Mr. Menchaca said that standing up to the developers took “immense courage,” adding that he felt at times like David in a biblical battle against Goliath. He said he hoped the waterfront would remain an industrial area by attracting companies that could provide green jobs.

“This is a victory for communities who have been sidelined by developers and want to drive their own vision of growth in their neighborhoods,” Mr. Menchaca said in an interview.

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