City Council Approves Inwood Neighborhood Rezoning Despite Residents Disapproval

Intersection of Broadway and Dyckman Street in Inwood. Image credit: Daniel Case.

On August 8, 2018, the City Council approved the Inwood Neighborhood Rezoning amidst resident concerns and disapproval. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez celebrated the rezoning approval. The rezoning was developed over the course of three years and affects 59 city blocks in the northern Manhattan neighborhood. The Economic Development Corporation, together with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, and the Department of Small Business Services, proposed the land use actions to implement a comprehensive rezoning plan in accordance with the goals of the Mayor’s Housing New York: Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan and began to implement the Inwood NYC Action Plan.

Currently, Inwood zoning was established in 1961 and has remained entirely unchanged since. Inwood comprises of residential buildings, mixed commercial/residential buildings, and commercial buildings.

A planning initiative was launched to develop a series of strategies to advance priorities for the neighborhood. A series of meetings, informational sessions, open houses and workshops was held to identify current needs and opportunities. Following this community engagement, EDC and other City agencies released the Inwood NYC Action Plan in June of 2017, which consisted of a series of strategies and actions to support affordable and mixed-income housing, create a comprehensive zoning framework, improve neighborhood infrastructure and invest in the community. The land use objectives also included: preserving the neighborhood’s existing built character and protect the rent stabilized housing stock; providing opportunities for high quality, permanently affordable housing; creating a framework for public waterfront open space along the Harlem River waterfront; creating more inviting, pedestrian-friendly streets; promoting commercial and community facility uses to spur job growth and potential institutional expansion; and promoting the consolidation of public utility and infrastructure uses to create opportunities for new mixed-use developments and public access areas along the waterfront.

The rezoning plan proposes land use actions including zoning map amendments, zoning text amendments, City Map changes, site acquisition and/or site disposition by the City, and an Urban Development Action Area designation and Project approval. The rezoning plan will extend a residential area in Inwood eastward across 10th Avenue to the Harlem, River. This area is currently underutilized land currently zoned for manufacturing uses including 10 acres of parking lots that will be turned into homes and public open space.

Proposed rezoning. Image credit: CPC.

The Inwood NYC Plan will invest $200 million into the neighborhood. Plan highlights include: repurposing underutilized, transit-accessible land along the Harlem River to better serve community needs and provide a responsible framework for growth; creating an estimated 1,600 affordable homes through 100 percent affordable projects on public sites and MIH requirements on private sites, replenishing and expanding Inwood’s affordable housing stock for the first time in decades; preserving and protecting at least 2,500 affordable homes in Inwood and Washington Heights with new resources to prevent displacement and keep apartment buildings affordable; building two new waterfront parks, North Cove Park and the Sherman Creek Malecón – a major step toward the long-awaited goal of a continuous public esplanade along the Harlem River; rebuilding and renovating existing parks, including the transformation of Monsignor Kett Playground into an intergenerational park and destination; investing $50 million in local school infrastructure and expanded programming in science, technology, engineering, and math, such as a new STEM Institute at the George Washington Educational Campus; creating a state-of-the-art Inwood Library with a new Pre-K for All facility, a youth STEM education center focused on robotics, and a cultural and job training center, along with 175 new, deeply affordable homes; Improving streets to make them safer and more attractive for pedestrians and cyclists, and upgrading sewer infrastructure; establishing an Immigrant Research Center and Performing Arts to celebrate the contributions of generations of immigrants to the rich history and culture of Northern Manhattan; and encouraging affordable retail space by requiring long-term leases with limited rent increases in City-financed development projects.

Manhattan Community Board 12 held a public hearing on the February 22, 2018 and March 20, 2018 by a vote of 37 in favor, zero opposed, and one abstention, adopted a resolution with recommendations. The Community Board recommended disapproval of the zoning map amendments unless the recommendations are met. The recommendations included: that heights be reduced on Dyckman Street west of Broadway, in the Commercial U, in Sherman Creek and in the Tip of Manhattan to better relate to surrounding scale and to preserve views to the Cloisters, Inwood Hill Park and Fort Tyron Park; that the proposed zoning on Dyckman Street west of Broadway be revised to allow for adaptive reuse of existing buildings; that the rezoning be revised to avoid reducing commercial FAR at a site, 5030 Broadway, in the Upland Wedge that would result in a conforming building; and that the zoning in the Upland Core be modified to support the development plans of the Holy Trinity Church. More information on the hearing and vote can be found here and here.

The City Planning Commission held a public hearing on May 9, 2018. There were 29 speakers in favor and 33 in opposition. Speakers in favor included a representative from Con Edison, Representatives of the Inwood Library project team, neighborhood resident, and a local business owner. A representative from the local business expressed the opinion that the proposal would create additional opportunity for local small business. Speakers in opposition included the Manhattan Borough President, Inwood Small Business Coalition, and neighborhood residents. Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, expressed concerns that the proposal may result in potential gentrification and displacement of existing residents and small businesses. Residents testifying in opposition voiced concerns about losing the Inwood Public Library and rent regulated housing and displacement of existing residents and small businesses.

The City Planning Commission voted 10-1 in favor of the proposal finding the proposed actions appropriate. Commissioner Michelle De La Uz voted against the proposal.

Mayor de Blasio said, “The approval of the Inwood neighborhood rezoning means a fairer, stronger future for a community that has experienced decades of disinvestment. It means affordability, security, and opportunity for residents and new immigrants alike. I thank Councilmember Rodriguez for his partnership in creating a bold plan that will benefit the community for generations to come. I also thank Speaker Johnson, Land Use Committee Chair Salamanca and the entire Council for joining us in our fight for affordable housing and strong neighborhoods.”

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez said, “My community deserves the best. We came into these negotiations with very high expectations because we are a community of hardworking residents who have, against all odds,  thrived in underserved neighborhoods that have seen very little affordable housing development in the last 50 years. This plan is an important first step in strengthening our community and an opportunity to bring many of the resources we currently lack in our neighborhood. We have secured over $200 million in public funds for new commitments in our community. In the next five years, we will create, preserve and protect over 5,000 affordable housing units. We will bring over $50 million in STEM and robotics programming and capital, and a new P-Tech school at George Washington Educational Campus. We are building 100% affordable housing development at critical public sites, including the DOT Bridge Repair Facility at 205th Street. We are bringing to our district a first-in-the nation Immigrant Research Center and Performing Arts space to be run by the New York Public Library and leading community-based organizations. Thank you to Speaker Corey Johnson, Mayor Bill de Blasio, EDC and community leaders for listening to our community and working towards a responsible rezoning.”


2 thoughts on “City Council Approves Inwood Neighborhood Rezoning Despite Residents Disapproval

  1. Important distinction: the Manhattan Community Board 12 vote was in favor of a resolution OPPOSING the rezoning proposal.

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