Locals boo Menchaca off stage for entertaining Industry City rezoning

Rejected: Councilman Menchaca announced that we will reject Industry City’s rezoning application unless developers acquiese to his demands and the Mayor’s office invests in the community.
Brooklyn Paper
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Councilman Carlos Menchaca fled a town hall meeting Monday in the face of angry constituents, who booed the legislator for saying he’d approve a controversial Industry City rezoning scheme if executives bowed to a list of demands, and the Mayor’s office promised to invest in the community.

Industry City is seeking city permission to embark on a 12-year, $1 billion redevelopment of its sprawling manufacturing and retail campus. The expansion would add 1.45 million square feet of space, two hotels, department stores, and educational buildings to the 35-acre complex, but is currently prohibited under existing zoning regulations.

Local activists strongly oppose the project, which they fear would spur gentrification and displacement of the surrounding Latino and Asian communities, while supporters claim that the move could bring needed jobs and economic renewal.

Menchaca — whose vote as the local representative will sway City Council to either approve or reject Industry City’s application — tried to strike a middle ground during Monday’s meeting at Sunset Park High School. The Councilman argued that, while Industry City’s redevelopment may displace locals, the land-use-approval process gives residents an opportunity to set rules for the manufacturing complex.

But the legislator’s argument soundly failed to sway his constituents, who waved signs saying ‘No concessions!” and repeatedly drowned out Menchaca’s calls for compromise in a chorus of boos and chants, which prompted the legislator to flee the packed auditorium.

And so, Menchaca released his list of demands in a statement after the meeting. They include:

• Eliminating hotels from the application

• Reducing the amount of new retail space

• Providing space for a non-profit manufacturing business

• Creating a public technical high school

• Providing job training programs for locals

• Offering educational programs on tenants’ rights

• Funding for affordable housing

• Providing free lawyers for residents in Housing Court

Menchaca added that he would pass the rezoning only if the Mayor’s office commits in writing to provide funding for the high school, affordable housing, and tenant programs, in addition to forming a community association to oversee spending and sign a contract that would cement the agreement.

The councilman unveiled his list of demands after rejecting a rezoning application Industry City submitted in February, only to later pull it after Menchaca promised to kill the proposal if executives didn’t give him six months to mull it over. He now wants Industry City to conform their next application to reflect his demands, as opposed to working them in during the city’s roughly yearlong public-review process.

Activists responded to the legislator’s tacit support with outrage, claiming that Menchaca’s conditional acceptance of the rezoning goes against the will of his constituents, who want him to reject the proposal outright.

“Tonight, Menchaca confirmed he doesn’t stand with the more than 4,000 residents who signed our petition demanding he reject the rezoning with no concessions,” said Colleen Peabody-Diez, a local activist. “The Council Member has aligned himself with rich developers rather than the community.”

Menchaca claimed that he understands the activists’ concerns, and decided to leave the Monday’s meeting so that he didn’t have to speak over them.

“I was not able to finish the presentation, and that is okay,” he said in a statement. “It was completely understandable that many of my neighbors who are anxious, excited, fearful, or angry about what Industry City has and hasn’t done would want to make me aware of those feelings and make sure I got it.”

The future of the rezoning application, he added, is now in its developers’ hands.

“The ball is in Industry City’s court about whether we can partner in a way that benefits everyone,” said Mechaca, who added that he plans to send a letter about his recommendation on Tuesday, and he expects a response by Thursday.

Reach reporter Rose Adams at or by calling (718) 260–8306. Follow her on Twitter @rose_n_adams
Updated 4:35 pm, September 17, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
Making sure there are no jobs or investment in a community is a tried and true strategy to make sure property values and rents don't increase. (I am not being sarcastic.. I just think it's a bad strategy.)
Sept. 17, 5:10 pm
Jose from Sunset Park says:
An angry mob of ideologues opposed to any progress or change shouts down their elected representative because he was only partially obstructionist to Industry City. God help Sunset Park, because this ignorant mob surely won’t.
Sept. 18, 7:27 am
sonia from sunset park says:
please say "some constituents"... many of us here in my neighborhood are in favor of the industry city rezoning- just because we don't protest and yell at hearings doesn't mean we don't exist. jobs, revitalization, safe spaces for families and opportunities matter to us and industry city is providing that for us. this is a privately funded proposal (no tax dollars) on private land (they already own it!). councilman Menchaca - vote yes!
Sept. 18, 8:09 am
John from Greenwood Heights says:
local here! i didn't boo. i wanted to hear the plan, but people in the audience - including folks from Manhattan, Park Slope and Bed Stuy - were booing and screaming and couldn't let the rest of us hear anything. Industry City isn't responsible for everything (good or bad) that happens in this community. But no rezoning means we will have zero say whatsoever in what happens there. I think that was the Carlos Menchaca's point. I support his call for some community agreements, but I hope that means he will allow the project to move forward for the sake of all of us, not just the loudest 100 people in the neighborhood trying to shut this down.
Sept. 18, Noon
Angel from Sunset Park says:
I live and work in Sunset. I support the Industry City rezoning. Communities like ours need more jobs for their residents, investment in infrastructure, and rehabilitation of our water front. IC has done that and can do more with this plan. The heavy manufacturing of old is not returning. Let us be successful for the real world and have jobs where we actually live!
Sept. 18, 7:21 pm
concerned from Greenwood says:
As a homeowner in the neighborhood, I agree that Industry City rezoning is inevitable. I believe there ought to be a way to accommodate the development of the former Bush Terminal as well as creating more housing for the working class citizens of Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Sept. 19, 2:25 pm
Rick from Sunset Park from Sunset Park says:
People that own property in the neighborhood are for this. They know it'll raise their value, as well as the commercial and residential rents in the area. These same yuppies moved here because "the neighborhood is so vibrant". Rezoning displacement happened in Dumbo, Williamsburg and EVERY OTHER REZONING since Bloomberg. If you rent in SP, it's going up. So start looking at rentals in Gravesend or Bath Beach, because when the landlord slides that rent renewal under your door, it's going to be a rude awakening. How many people would take a $15/hr job in exchange for a 20% increase on rent? All a developer has to say is "job" and New Yorkers will give away everything. These same YIMBY New Yorkers, many proclaim to hate Trump-the kind of shady NYC real estate.
Sept. 21, 3:48 pm

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