Inwood Rezoning Could Generate 4,300+ New Apartments

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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.

10 thoughts on “Inwood Rezoning Could Generate 4,300+ New Apartments

  1. Ridiculous! This small yet crowded neighborhood doesn’t need 43,000 new apartments. Where will these people park? What about the adjacent neighborhoods also adding apartments? The Major Deegan and Harlem River Drives are already slammed in the morning. So are the two subway lines that pass through here. If you visit this area on a summer weekend you can see how the lack of transportation infrastructure affects us. It’s a bottleneck now, imagine 43,000 more people who work from 9-5 added to the mix. Go find somewhere else to live, you aren’t wanted here. All the apartments up here are red flagged anyway, no hot water, bugs and rodents, lots of noise and corner activity. This area isn’t changing so don’t waste a year or two of your life living up here. Brooklyn is more your style and it’s already been ruined, try that.

    • Just to clarify, they’re predicting 4,300, not 43,000 new apartments….though fine with us if you want to debate whether their prediction is accurate.

      • The theoretical maximum under the upzoned areas appears to be about 17,000 apartments, which would translate to around 47,000 new residents. Of course what matters is the net difference from the theoretical existing maxed-out zoning in these areas, which is around 12,000 apartments and 33,000 additional residents. So the original poster is not entirely wrong by talking about “43,000 more people.”

        Where do these numbers come from? If you ignore the R7A areas that are currently R7-2 (since the FAR doesn’t change on these lots assuming Quality Housing schemes), then the rezoning covers 2.7M SF of land. Applying the new maximum proposed zoning densities to that land, lot by lot, and assuming that every lot is demolished and rebuilt to that maximum density, you would get about 15.2M SF of potential residential redevelopment. Subtracting the residential maximum that could theoretically already exist, it’s about 10.5M SF of net additional residential development, which assuming 875 SF gross as a round number to calculate units (a number taken from the Draft Scope and more conservative than the 850 SF at the Seaman Ave rezoning), works to 12,000 apartments. Using the city’s own figure of 2.78 persons per dwelling unit gets you to adding 33,483 people to the part of Inwood above Dyckman, a neighborhood that has a current population of around 38,000.

        Now of course not every existing building will be torn down, and not every redeveloped building will be maxed out or entirely residential (you can knock off 0.5 FAR or more in the commercial areas). But it’s a much, much bigger number than the net 4,300 new apartments the city is claiming based on their spotty 15-year projection map of redevelopment at the top of this page. The city is underselling the amount of change this rezoning enables — why is that? Why would they think Dichter’s Pharmacy and the other 1-story buildings along the west side of Broadway north of 207 would not be redeveloped once rezoned to 11 stories? Or the abandoned Rite Aid at 207 and Sherman?

        The city’s criteria for projecting which sites would liekly be redeveloped specifically excluded “multi-story, multi-unit residential buildings with existing rent-stabilized tenants — such buildings are unlikely
        to be redeveloped because of the required relocation of tenants in rent-stabilized units.” I’m sure that will give comfort to the 1,500 rent-stabilized apartments that are on sites that will be upzoned 40%.

        Something is way off on the city’s numbers. This is a truly massive rezoning and they should be honest about it.

  2. This is a very aggressive rezoning. Inwood is already fairly dense but uniformly so — 98% of the buildings are less than 8 stories, but the vast majority of them, even on side streets, are also at least 5 stories. Under the rezoning you would see 11 story buildings along Broadway, Dyckman and 207th, with 14 story buildings at major intersections. 17 story buildings would be found near the 207th St bridge and near the Dyckman Houses. 25 story buildings would run along the Harlem River.

    Given such massive upzoning, I would like to better understand how the city generates their impact numbers. I see the development map (highlighted at the top of this page), which appears to be the city’s 15 year projection for what they think are the soft sites. But rezonings tend to last 50 years or more, not 15, and a lot of sites are missing from that map. Does anyone really believe that the 1-story retail shops along Broadway like Dichters, Tubby Hook, etc. would not be redeveloped once rezoned to 11 stories? (Leases would be bought out, believe me.)

    If you run the numbers on every single lot that is being upzoned, the absolute theoretical possible number of apartments possible under the rezoning appears to be about 17,000. Compared to the theoretical maximum of what is possible under the existing R7-2, C4-4 and M zonings this would be a theoretical max increase of 12,000 (TWELVE THOUSAND) units, not 4,348. Assuming about 25% would be MIH, that’s 9,000 new market rate units and 3,000 new affordable units. About 1,500 existing (all rent-stablized) units lie in the upzoned areas. These are crazy numbers!

    There are also some serious flaws in the draft plan that need to be addressed before this is formally evaluated under the EIS:

    – Columbia was not included. They have a huge piece of land and without height limits (current zoning has density but not height caps) they could in theory build 30 story dorms once they give up on trying to play football. If the entire point was to preserve the context of existing residential areas, then they should be under the same R7A height cap of 8 stories like the rest of the existing R7-2 areas.

    – Inwood south of Dyckman was not included. There have already been attempts at spot zoning here (see: Sherman Plaza). If the point was to preserve context, it should be included under R7A also.

    – And again, if one of the goals was to recognize and preserve existing context, there are certain underbuilt but historic blocks in Inwood that should merit a lower zoning than R7A. Parts of Payson, PTW, 217th St, Cooper, and other blocks could all be R5A or other zonings meant to better match existing conditions.

    – The plan goes on and on about the need to build more housing to justify all this upzoning, but then does a 180 and blights the northern part of Inwood as M zonings, in order to keep this as undeveloped parking lots just in case the Allen Hospital ever wants to expand. As pretty much the only source of high quality jobs in the area, I get the point, but this is what happens when EDC and a local politician lead a rezoning instead of a city planner.

    – The library was unnecessarily thrown into the R8A/C4-4D zone to encourage its redevelopment. (Note that the Library RFP has not come out yet, nor a revised Vision Statement.)

    Overall, Inwood is unique from other neighborhoods being rezoned by the city because it is a) already very built-out in its residential areas and b) nearly empty in its outdated industrial areas. But what exists in Inwood works — why mess with it? Simply rezone all of the former industrial areas to R7A, effectively copying and pasting the kinds of buildings you see on Broadway or Seaman or Vermilyea over to 10th and 9th — wouldn’t that be enough to meet the goals of the rezoning? It would still result in thousands of new apartments (a theoretical 9,000 net new units, 2,300 of which would be affordable) and new commercial spaces without going out of character on heights or incentivizing the teardown of existing stores and apartments along the commercial streets. This option of “Everything-R7A” should be explored in the scoping draft.

  3. Looks really good. This is certainly what I wanted. Industrial lots should not remain industrial lots as demand housing grows. There should be more housing. And those who think that Inwood can’t take on 4,000 more apartments are simply in denial.

    • so, what you wanted was the destruction of the last working class neighborhood in manhattan by the williamsburg-ification of a neighborhood with 70% rent-stabilized housing shock and awed with thousands of units of new luxury, market-rate housing, resulting in explosive displacement and total and sudden demographic change? i think most actual inwood residents would disagree with you on that point…..

  4. I tremble at the laughable caliber of pinheads (think Ydanis Rodriguez) who are “leading” this charge for radical re-zoning. We are supposed to trust these Communists? How much money and power will it take to satisfy them? Fingers crossed that the political “geniuses” driving this massive redistribution, er, redevelopment scheme, will move on to their next level of incompetency (think Adriano Espaillat) and leave Inwood alone.

  5. What do the numbers in the map represent. I’m particularly curious about 21 and 22 on Dyckman west of Broadway below Inwood Hill Park.

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