From the Queens Chronicle:
In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg announced that specific areas of city land would be preserved for industrial purposes solely and called Industrial Business Zones. To go along with the IBZ, the mayor also created the Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses to support the city’s ailing industrial sector.
But eight years later, the OIMB has been dismantled and slowly, more and more of the IBZs are losing manufacturing businesses, which are being replaced by residential buildings and superstores.
“Creating these zones was the correct strategy for the city,” Adam Friedman of the Pratt Center for Community Development said. “The mayor recognized that manufacturers needed stability and said they would discourage nonindustrial uses and even created an office and conducted studies on the infrastructure of the industrial areas to better implement discouraging of nonindustrial uses. Those groups have gone steadily down and now have been eliminated.”
Since Bloomberg took office, the city has lost 1,800 acres of M-zoned industrial land.
In 2009, the New York Industrial Retention Network, which has since been consolidated to the Pratt Center, studied commercial uses invading IBZs. The 10-page document lays out every commercial superstore or chain hotel to move into each of the eight zones over several years.
“I don’t believe the city is doing everything the can to protect these companies,” Councilwoman Diana Reyna (D-Maspeth) said. “In my tenure as a council member, I’ve always had a specific interest in the industrial sector which dates back to the fact that my mother was a seamstress when the textile industry was predominately immigrants. She eventually had to change careers because of the shrinking industry buildings.”
Reyna and others cite real estate prices as one of the key reasons that more and more buildings are becoming residential. Building owners have found that commercial and residential companies are more likely to pay higher prices than manufacturers. So when leases come up, the owners hike up rents so high that industrial companies cannot afford to remain in the area.
This year, the IBZ fund that grants industrial businesses tax incentives for remaining in the zones has been zeroed out.