AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SPEAKER OF THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL IN SUPPORT OF INDUSTRY CITY
August 14, 2020
Dear Speaker Johnson:
We are writing in strong support of the Industry City rezoning – a project of citywide significance. In the face of an historic economic crisis, record unemployment and unprecedented financial pain facing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, we urge the City Council to vote yes for this critically important project and the thousands of desperately needed good jobs it will create. As you said back in 2018 at the beginning of your Speakership, Council approval of a land use project over the objection of a local member was “possible” in the right circumstances and that your “posture is always – how do we get to a place of yes?” We can think of no circumstances more demanding of a thoughtful and decisive “yes” than the current crisis.
During the fight over Amazon’s HQ2 proposal, you and many of your Council colleagues suggested that the City’s ULURP procedure was the appropriate vehicle for project review, to facilitate robust community engagement and input, and to ensure that neighborhood residents would be proactively connected to newly created jobs.
Industry City has followed the process you recommended:
- The Industry City rezoning proceeded through the ULURP process, with extended pre-certification outreach to the community and an unparalleled amount of public engagement. The Industry City team participated in more than 10 formal town hall meetings and public forums over a two-year period and formulated much of their plan based on the community board’s own 197A plan and other local input.
- In order to ensure local residents are prepared and hired for jobs at Industry City, the developer partnered with local groups like Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, CUNY City Tech, Center for Family Life and the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation to create the Innovation Lab at Industry City. They already have provided free job training and placement services to thousands of residents and have committed to expanding the Innovation Lab as part of their ULURP approval.
- Finally, as part of a truly unprecedented commitment to addressing the local Council Member’s concerns, Industry City publicly agreed to a comprehensive list of 10 conditions provided by Council Member Menchaca and community leaders in advance of the project being certified into ULURP.
Industry City is not simply offering the “promise” or “potential” of new jobs but have already proven themselves good neighborhood partners with a track record of economic development success (and all with private investment and zero public resources). Since taking over the property, they’ve grown from 150 businesses and 1,900 jobs to 550 businesses and more than 8,000 jobs. This rezoning will facilitate the growth of more than 12,000 additional jobs and generate $100 million a year in desperately needed local tax revenue. No other private redevelopment project anywhere in the City of New York can match either this record of growth or its potential for continued investment and job creation.
Industry City represents a model for the type of privately financed, sustainable development that the City Council must encourage in the post-pandemic era, when government resources are severely limited and the need for new job creation is enormous. This is a matter of citywide concern that will help determine how quickly we can recover from the devastation of the pandemic. Thank you for your consideration of the important issues at stake here.
Association for a Better New York
Steven Rubenstein, Chairman
Bronx Chamber of Commerce
Lisa Sorin, President
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Randy Peers, President and CEO
Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
Gary LaBarbera, President
Building Trades Employers Association
Louis J. Coletti, President and CEO
Center for an Urban Future
Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
Regina Myer, President
International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1814
Frank Agosta, President
Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
Jessica Walker, President and CEO
New York Building Congress
Carlo Scissura, President & CEO
New York City Central Labor Council
Vincent Alvarez, President
Partnership for New York City
Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO
Queens Chamber of Commerce
Thomas Grech, President & Chief Executive Officer
Real Estate Board of New York
James Whelan, President
Kyle Bragg, President
Staten Island Chamber of Commerce
Linda Baran, President & CEO
Julie Samuels, Executive Director