3 thoughts on “City Takes Time With Inwood Rezoning Process

  1. Thanks for reporting on this, but there are many errors and misconceptions and missing information in the above. Some clarifications:

    – No one knows what EDC is up to. Their previously announced calendar, which they talked about at every meeting, has been abandoned. No future events are scheduled on their website.

    – The “stakeholders group” consisted of mostly pick by Rodriguez, with a few actual residents sprinkled in. At many of the meetings each focus group breakout might have only 1 or 2 Inwood residents.

    – No significant input was ever gathered at any of the stakeholder meetings, and no changes to the plan were ever made based on input. The consultants running the stakeholder meetings ultimately had to abandon any idea of a summary report (after many months of meetings) because in reality there was nothing to report on. The city came with their plan already formed and used the pretense of open houses and stakeholder meetings to pretend to gather input when what they were hoping for was to disseminate their view and build support. Obviously that did not happen as once people found out about the plans there were several concerns.

    – It is true that residents have long been asking for the blighted former industrial parts of Inwood to be rezoned and be more contiguous with the rest of what is one of Manhattan’s best neighborhoods. However, at no time did any resident say “hey, would you please double or triple the density and build tall buildings completely out of context with what has worked so well in Inwood for a century?”

    – EDC’s discussions about revitalization, pedestrian-friendliness, parks, etc. have all essentially amounted to a conversation along the lines of “Do you like ice cream? Which flavor is best – strawberry or chocolate? Oh, and sprinkles are great too, right? And waffle cones?” They leave out entirely the fact that the ice cream is $12 a cone and by the way won’t be served until 2025. It was only in the summer that the cost of the rezoning — massive increases in density — were revealed. People were upset about this, but no changes to the plan were made.

    – The only change to the plan that was made was a sudden surprise to leave the northernmost part of Inwood zoned industrial, in order to keep it blighted and empty for future expansion by NYP. All of that talk about needing housing and all those other good things vanished when someone made a phone call, evidently.

    – Let’s be clear, MIH is triggered by upzoning, and MIH only requires 20-30 percent affordable, and that affordable might run as high as 80% AMI and will be no lower than 40%AMI. (There is no 30% AMI option. It does not exist in the zoning law). You cannot force the low-income 40% AMI option. Talk of city subsidies is just that, talk. For-profit developers simply don’t build 100% affordable housing on land they own.

    – The “contextual zoning” is a tricky label. The city will say they ARE using contextual zoning, but an R9A or R8A zoning is contextual to HIGH DENSITY zoning districts and can never, by definition, be contextual to Inwood’s R7 existing zoning and density. The city does not want to hear the words “R7A” because it won’t be as attractive to developers as a giant tower, but that is what residents are asking for, at least along areas that border the existing residential neighborhoods.

    – This article quotes an Inwood community service member who thinks the co-op owners are opposing development. This is a mistruth that perpetuates an old stereotype. In reality, the coop owners have been proactive in participating in the meetings and have welcomed development that would remove the blight surrounding their buildings. What they are opposed to is the density and scale currently on the proposed maps, which is something very different from opposing development entirely.

    – I know the narrative is just oh-so-convenient to call the failed Sherman Plaza proposal a 50-percent affordable project, but please stick to the facts. The rezoning would have required either 30% of units at 80%AMI or 20% of units at 40%AMI. Any talk about “50% affordable” hinged on non-binding talks with the city to maybe throw in some financing or such to entice more affordability, but as a rezoning matter it never existing. Zoning laws simply do not have a 50% affordable requirement, period. The media needs to stop mis-reporting this spin by the Mayor’s office over a super-aggressive spot rezoning that never should have seen the light of day in the first place.

  2. I agree that no one knows what EDC is up to. They ask for community input, but there is actually no transparent process for including that input into the existing plans. As far as I can tell it goes into a black hole. When asked “when and how will the community’s suggestions be incorporated into the existing plan?” the EDC reps could not answer. They gather feedback and listen nicely, but to what end? So we community members feel good –like we had a voice? I have no evidence that anything they “listen” to actually makes it into the plan, which already exists. Lets get some transparency on that–does community input amke any difference at all?

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