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Amazon Headquarters Left New York, but Will Other Developers?

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Residents of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, protest the Bush Terminal renovation.

Marcela Mityanes, a resident of the Sunset Park neighborhood in south Brooklyn, can’t leave her apartment without seeing signs of rapid change. The deli on the corner is closing; a coffee shop is opening next door. Luxury mega-developments are rising over full blocks. Even the Key Food is selling different products. Passing a building undergoing gut-renovation, Mityanes, a tenant organizer with the local group Neighbors Helping Neighbors, can’t help but wonder about who was living there before and where they went. She’s heard increasing complaints of tenant harassment, rent hikes, and evictions throughout the working-class, predominately Latino and Asian neighborhood. “I feel like it’s been sporadic and spaced out. But now it just seems like it’s happening on every other block,” she says.

Sunset Park has historically been one of New York City’s largest walk-to-work communities—a hub for manufacturing jobs in the factories and warehouses along the water. Before it was bought by private developers and rebranded as Industry City, Bush Terminal—which spanned 200 acres along the waterfront at its peak—was home to a busy port and railyard, and, more recently, to one of the highest concentrations of garment manufacturers in the city.

As climbing rents pushed most of these factory jobs across the river to New Jersey or upstate—between 2006 and 2016, median rent in Sunset Park increased by 20 percent adjusted for inflation—the stable working-class life the jobs made possible has disappeared too. In the early ’90s, the manufacturing sector employed over 250,000 people in the city, plummeting to less than 80,000 today.

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