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An industrious plan: In Sunset Park, Industry City is a very good thing; a local City Council member must let it grow

2019-09-16

Very long ago, the 10 giant buildings cut off by the Gowanus Expressway overhanging Third Ave. were constructed for manufacturing and warehousing for the once-heavy industry along the Brooklyn waterfront in Sunset Park. Sometime along the way they were christened Industry City.

What’s more exciting than that past is the present and future: The long-desolate row of structures has been transformed by enterprising entrepreneurs into a pulsing, lively center of food and shopping and innovation that employs plenty of people from nearby working-class neighborhoods. And it was done without a cent of public money.

Go there on a weekend and you’ll be jammed in with thousands of others sampling eats and drinks and music and enjoying outdoor courtyards and inside corridors.

Every member of the City Council should visit this vibrant, hopping place. They would all wish it was in their district. Except for the member whose district it is in: Carlos Menchaca.

Industry City wants to evolve its 6 million square feet of space and plow another $1 billion into new uses, including retail and a hotel. To do that, it needs a zoning change.

For six years, the complex’s owners trudged through the approval process. Right before the last sign-off in March, Menchaca said he needed more time to decide, citing fears about gentrification and displacement that could be made about any successful development.

And since, like every member, he wrongly enjoys a veto on all zoning changes in his district, he got more time. He is set to present his verdict, whatever it is, Monday at 6 p.m. before a crowd in a school auditorium.

Menchaca must say yes. If he doesn’t, the Council must disregard his opposition. Iron smelting and shipbuilding is not coming back to the Brooklyn waterfront. But there’s a bright future for Industry City. Let it bloom.