Draft Scope of Work for the Inwood Rezoning Proposal

A map from the Draft Scope of Work indicating red projected development sites (most likely) and blue potential development sites (less likely) by the year 2032.

The de Blasio administration predicts its proposed rezoning of Inwood will stimulate the creation of 4,348 new apartments by 2032, of which a portion would be rent-restricted under the city’s mandatory inclusionary housing policy, according to a city document released last Friday.

The rezoning is also expected to create 1,135,032 square feet of commercial space, 472,685 square feet of community facility space, and result in a loss of 50,614 square feet of industrial space. To give a sense of the scale, there are more apartments anticipated in the East New York rezoning area, but fewer in the downtown Far Rockaway rezoning area.

The document in question is the rezoning’s Draft Scope of Work, which describes the details of the proposal, projects the rezoning’s development outcomes, and explains the methods that will be used to conduct an analysis of the project’s potential environmental impacts. A public hearing on the draft scope will be held on Thursday, September 14, 2017, 6 p.m., at IS 52 Inwood Junior High School, 650 Academy Street. Stakeholders can submit written comments at the hearing or by mail or e-mail until Monday, September 25, 5 pm. (See the bottom of this article for the addresses and e-mails.)

The release of the scope is usually a sign that a rezoning proposal is moving towards the review process through which it can become law—though in the case of the proposed rezonings of the Bronx’s Jerome Avenue and Staten Island’s Bay Street, draft scopes of work were released last year and the proposals have not yet moved forward to review.

The goals of the rezoning, which has been the outcome of a process spearheaded by local councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and the Economic Development Corporation, include creating affordable housing, facilitating waterfront access, creating walkable streets with diverse retail and community facilities, promoting economic growth to create jobs, and protecting neighborhood character and the area’s rent-stabilized housing stock, among other objectives.

It calls for upzoning 10th avenue and most of the blocks to its east, which are currently zoned for auto-uses and industry, to promote residential and commercial growth. The areas west of 10th avenue north of Dyckman Street would be rezoned to limit building heights and protect neighborhood character, but some major avenues would also be upzoned to allow greater residential density within certain height limits. Any upzoned area will require a percent of rent-restricted housing under the city’s mandatory inclusionary housing policy.

The rezoning itself is part of a larger plan for the area released in May. “The Proposed Actions would work in unison with other components of the Inwood NYC Action Plan intended to preserve existing affordable housing and protect tenants, support small businesses and entrepreneurs, and provide targeted public realm investments and increased programming and services to enhance overall quality of life for residents,” the scope says.

The exact zoning designations proposed in the scope are the same as those presented to community members in July, though at that meeting residents expressed a variety of concerns about the proposal.

According to the scope, there will not be a significant amount of “direct residential displacement.” The city makes this assessment based on whether projected development sites in the rezoning area contain more than 500 residents. The scope says the city will, however, study the project’s impacts on direct business displacement, as well as indirect residential and business development (or displacement caused by rising rents).

The city will also study the impacts of a temporary closure of the Inwood library, which the city plans to redevelop with a new library space and 100 percent rent-restricted housing. “The analysis will consider whether the displacement, physical change, proposed temporary relocation, and subsequent improvement of the new library on the same site would have the potential to result in significant adverse impacts to libraries,” the scope says.

Transit impacts will also be “a key focus.” The rezoning area is located within federally-designated 100-year and 500-year floodplains, so the city will also look at the effects of climate change on the area, and if there are adaptive design measures that should be incorporated into the plan. These are just a few of the topics the Environmental Impact Statement will cover: open space, shadows, the sewer system, and schools are some of the others.

The document was published Friday, with a notice in the City Record, but an e-mail announcement was not sent out to the Inwood rezoning mail list until Tuesday at 5:44 p.m.. Graham Ciraulo, an organizer with the Northern Manhattan Is Not For Sale, says he was frustrated that he heard about the release of the scope through an industry contact—someone with “interests” in the rezoning—before hearing about it from the city.

“It came as a surprise, it came through another channel besides the city, which is frustrating, because rule number one is transparency,” says Ciraulo. He adds that the coalition is still concerned about many aspects of the plan, including, among others, the upzoning of the areas west of Tenth avenue and the potential for the plan to cause indirect displacement. “That’s a huge, huge issue for us,” he says.

Update: According to EDC, a notice to Community Board 12 and elected officials was sent out on the Thursday prior to the release of the scope.

A candidate forum for the district, featuring councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and challenger Josue Perez, will be held by Faith In New York on September 8, 7 pm, at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, 91 Arden Street, Manhattan. The hearing on the draft scope of work will take place on Thursday, September 14, 6 pm at IS 52 Inwood Junior High School, 650 Academy Street, Manhattan. Written comments on the draft scope of work can be mailed or e-mailed to one of two people: the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Coordination, Attn: Esther Brunner, Deputy Director, 253 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, New York 10007, Email: ebrunner@cityhall.nyc.gov. Or: New York City Economic Development Corporation, Attn: Dina Rybak, Vice President, 110 William Street, 6th floor, New York, NY 10038, Email: drybak@edc.nyc.