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Job placement or displacement? Industry City shares local hiring numbers, but critics still wary of gentrification

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Sunset Park’s most divisive development is also one of its largest employers.

Half of Industry City’s 4,000 employees are people of color who hail from the immediate area, and many have not obtained a college degree — proof that Industry City is making jobs that will benefit the diverse neighborhood rather than just the white and college-educated, honchos said. But critics say the quantity doesn’t trump quality.

“With the kind of job numbers they’ve been talking about, I don’t imagine it happening, and my real concern is they’re going to hit these numbers at the hotel and dorms,” said gadfly Tony Giordano, referring to Industry City’s plan to build a hotel and dorms as part of a $1 billion renovation. “What I think they have planned for us is house-keeping jobs for the hotel.”

The company announced the expanded renovation plan in march. It hopes to turn the more-than six-square-block complex into a so-called “innovation district” — a mixed-use area with high-tech manufacturing, retail, offices, education space, and a hotel.

Giordano and others — like the social and environmental justice group Uprose — have panned Industry City’s plan, suggesting it will lead to rapid gentrification and that monied whites will displace longtime residents in the largely immigrant neighborhood.

“Be careful with ‘innovation districts.’ Nothing Innovative about Displaceme­nt,” reads a tweet Uprose posted Nov. 3. Another tweet shows a photo of graffiti on a construction shed that reads “Coming soon: Displacement” in Industry City’s signature stenciled font. Yet another depicts a painting of Columbus landing in the New World bearing Industry City’s standard.

But displacement results from real estate market forces — something Industry City has no control over, the complex’s honcho said.

“We can only control what we can control, and what we can control is taking a place that had very few jobs and no investment for 30 years and turning it into a place where there are lots of jobs and a very good number of which go to local folks,” said chief executive officer Andrew Kimball.

Currently, half of the people employed at the various businesses occupying Industry City are from Red Hook, Sunset Park, or Bay Ridge — and 37 percent alone are from Sunset Park, according to spokeswoman Lisa Serbaniewicz. Blacks, Latinos, and Asians comprise 49 percent of the workforce, she said.

And the barrier to entry is low — 43 percent of workers have less than a bachelor’s degree, she said. That creates opportunities for locals in Sunset Park, where just under 19 percent of residents over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher — well below the borough-wide figure of 30 percent, census data shows.

Industry City plans to find more jobs for locals when it opens a so-called “innovation lab” — a job-placement and training center run in conjunction with New York City College of Technology and local business organizations including the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, and the Center for Family Life. It’s slated to open in January, and will hook up locals with jobs in Industry City and other waterfront developments.

Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow will train young people to do basic computer coding. The Center for Family Development will run two programs — one that helps locals start small cooperative businesses and another that finds jobs for adults, according to Executive Director Julia Jean-Francois. Borough President Adams and Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) have provided some funding for equipment and training respectively.

They have their work cut out for them, according to one Sunset Parker and long-time employee of Industry City bakery Colson Patisserie, who said he wished more people in the neighborhood — particularly Latinos — knew about the jobs available at Industry City.

“When I mention Industry City, they don’t know where it is, where it’s located,” said baker Daniel Leal. “They just don’t know.”

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John from Bay Ridge says:
UPROSE is an organization in search of relevance, and they have been chasing trends for years now. Reflexive opposition to economic progress is the latest, characterized as opposition to gentrification and community empowerment. Displacement of some Sunset Park residents will occur as the neighborhood improves economically, but that is unavoidable and it is foolhardy to try to stop it. The fact is that many Sunset Park residents will remain and enjoy an improved economy and a safer and cleaner neighborhood.

No neighborhood in NYC can be preserved in amber, and UPROSE's anticipated loss of political influence as Sunset Park becomes safer and more prosperous is the motivation behind their opposition to Industry City.
Nov. 12, 2015, 9:22 am
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
on the bright side, gentrification will lower crime rates under the Gonawus Expressway. The DOT has plan to gentrify the streets under the Gonawas Expwy throught the new "Under the Elevated" program.
Nov. 12, 2015, 9:24 am
No job creation from Brooklyn says:
Locally, you have the NY State Dept of Labors Brooklyn office where there is no outreach or job creation, as can be seen by their fraudulent website. Even worse DOL is a dumping ground for ex assembly staff like Steven Wilkenson, who is the regional director. What he does daily is a big mystery but we do know he doesn't answer his phone or respond to constituent questions.And, can never be found in his office. The other political hack working for DOL is Paul Nelson, a so-called special assistant who has job hoped from numerous positions in elected officials offices, and his knowledge when it comes to job creation is only his own job. Then you have the Mayors Workforce Development Division headed by ED, Katy Degaul who refuses to address how poorly the Workforce Centers all around the city are run, but she's a little puppet to the Mayors top staff. Where is the job creation?
Nov. 12, 2015, 9:53 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Sunset Park will never be gentrified because the housing is being destroyed -- all the charm and attractiveness of the homes is being ripped out and thrown into dumpsters. Former two family structures are being converted into 5,6,7,8 apartments with stairways being dug in the front yards leading to living quarters in windowless basements. Then there is the replacement of wrought iron railings and wooden doors with shiny stainless steel and the brownstone steps with fake stone planks. Floors added on buildings, sometimes not even matching the brick color,and forgett about a cornice or even any attempt at some sort of decorative topper. What "gentry" are going to be attracted to this mess that is being created?
Nov. 12, 2015, 10:53 am
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
MJ -- a beautification/improvement project is a gentrification project. Unless you equate "gentrified" with "nice" or "livable."
Nov. 12, 2015, 11:29 am
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
*is NOT a gentrification project (oops)
Nov. 12, 2015, 11:32 am

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