LIAM LA GUERRE AND ROSA KIM
Heavy-duty businesses could be coming to part of Ridgewood.
Community Board (CB) 5 voted almost unanimously to turn one area in the neighborhood into an Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) at the organization’s monthly meeting on July 10.
The board voted 29-1 after its Zoning and Land Use Committee suggested it will foster job creation.
“It’s essentially an attempt to preserve and attract manufacturing into that section in Ridgewood,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “Many of us believe New York City in so many cases has not promoted manufacturing enough. And this is an opportunity to do that locally.”
The new IBZ is in an area south of Myrtle Avenue known as SOMA. Its borders are Irving Avenue, Hancock Street and Cypress Avenue.
If the area joins the city’s 16 other IBZs, including five in Queens, it could gain a number of benefits.
The city provides a $1,000 tax credit per employee and other benefits to companies in the zones, helping attract new businesses from other areas.
“Manufacturers in Hunters Point and Maspeth are helped for example,” said Walter Sanchez, chair of the board’s Zoning and Land Use Committee. “They would be more likely to get contracts to build light bulbs” compared to Ridgewood.
Opponents of the proposal say Ridgewood is not right for an IBZ.
Andrew Poma, whose family has owned businesses in the neighborhood for three generations, is afraid the IBZ would make the area more expensive and force him to sell his businesses to make way for manufacturing firms.
“We want to stay in the area,” he said. “We’re not interested in selling our properties to the highest bidder. We want to make use of our properties and keep them in the family.”
Stephanie Eisenberg shared her experience as a building owner in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn IBZ.
“It is in a residential neighborhood,” she said. “It’s hard for people to get trucks in the neighborhood. And there are groups that don’t like the trucks.”
Eisenberg suggested that the area instead be used as a mixed zone to allow property owners to keep manufacturing space on bottom floors and build up extra stories for residential usage.
CB 5 Chair Vincent Arcuri said more apartments will create a need for more police officers, schools and fire and sanitation personnel, which in turn will expand the need for jobs.