Remember when Amazon tried to bring 25,000 new jobs to Queens and AOC and others blocked them? Something very similar just happened in Brooklyn. A development group wanted to invest a bunch of money and create an estimated 15,000 additional jobs but local progressives groups blocked a rezoning that was necessary for the plan to go forward. Now the company behind it has withdrawn it. Brooklyn may be struggling with double digit unemployment in the midst of a pandemic but they are still more worried about gentrification than jobs:
The project, which required the city’s approval to rezone the area, had been cast as a way to bring jobs to an underdeveloped industrial section of Sunset Park, and supporters argued that the city’s massive job losses in recent months gave them an even more compelling reason to move forward with plans to create a shopping and office behemoth there. New York City’s unemployment rate last month was 16 percent, nearly twice the national average…
“If a project like this can’t succeed, it concerns me very much about the future of New York City — a place I’ve spent my whole life,” the chief executive of Industry City, Andrew Kimball, said in an interview on Wednesday…
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.
While business leaders are shaking their heads, local progressives including the councilman for the area are celebrating this as a win for “people power.”
Industry City has withdrawn their application. A WIN FOR SUNSET PARK! People power has triumphed ✊🏾. Our work continues as community voice drives the growth and future of our neighborhood.
— Carlos Menchaca 萬齊家 (@NYCCouncil38) September 23, 2020
Mayor de Blasio never took a position on the project, effectively allowing the leftist groups to kill it.
I’m always surprised when NY Times readers offer what sound like conservative critiques of this kind of thing but there are quite a few in the comments. For instance:
- “In which the tribunes of the people once again act against the interests of those they claim to serve. Between this and Amazon, progressive movements have now killed projects that would have created tens of thousands of jobs for working class New Yorkers. Ideological purity isn’t going to feed people.”
- “Is there any plan for job development in NYC that the progressives and the DSA support? Another stunning missed opportunity for growth, especially galling with so many businesses closing or relocating due to the pandemic.”
- “It seems to me that so-called progressives are animated by ideology, a hatred for private businesses and not by the best interests of regular folks. Progressives are no friend of the average Joe. First Amazon with many high paying jobs and now Industrial City are abandoned due to the unrelenting pressure from these fringe groups.We are all the poorer for the destruction wrought by these socialist zealots.”
As far as I can tell, the groups that defeated this have no actual plan to accomplish anything. A Gothamist article about the decision to shelve the development says, “Organizers in the area are hoping more attention is paid to alternative plans for the waterfront, including a proposal from UPROSE, a longtime Latino-based community organization. The UPROSE plan calls for a return to full-scale manufacturing while building wind turbines and solar panels as part of a national Green New Deal.” If you follow that link to the UPROSE proposal, it takes you to the group’s website however it’s nothing but a link to another article offering the same vague description of what the group wants, i.e. green jobs. There doesn’t appear to be any real plan to replace the one they helped kill.
I’d suggest that if green jobs weren’t rushing to fill the space before the pandemic it’s not likely to happen now that we’re in the midst of it. But I guess some people are happy to let fantasy construction jobs that aren’t coming become the enemy of the actual jobs that could be.