Planning Commission Approves Inwood Rezoning

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Adi Talwar

The Inwood waterfront, Harlem River side, seen from the Bronx.

The City Planning Commission voted in favor of the city’s Inwood rezoning proposal Monday, the fifth neighborhood rezoning sponsored by the de Blasio administration, during a quiet special meeting with almost full support from commission members.

CPC Chair Marisa Lago and Vice Chairman Kenneth Knuckles both shared comments about how long the rezoning process took, how it will create opportunities for Inwood and how the community was involved before giving their approval for the rezoning proposal. The next and final vote in ULURP, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, through which a rezoning is approved or rejected, will take place in the City Council in July.

The plan’s features “promote economic development by providing opportunities for commercial and community facilities [and] they create a more inviting pedestrian friendly street by establishing ground floor design regulations in key areas [and] they set the stage for reconnecting the neighborhood to the Harlem River waterfront,” said Lago.  “Like all of our neighborhood rezonings, today’s rezoning stems from a community engagement process, which began in 2015 to identify the needs and also the opportunities of the community.”

CPC Chair Lago added that the City Planning Commission modified the proposal before giving the “yes” vote, to encourage open space on the waterfront and to loosen the requirements for nonresidential ground-flood uses.

Knuckles joined her for the approval along with other members of the City Planning Commission except for commission member Michelle De La Uz.

“While I appreciate and agree with the amendments for public access to the waterfront and to limit the requirement for ground-floor commercial space,” De La Uz said, “I remain deeply concerned about the loss of local immigrant businesses and rent-stabilized housing. I think it is important to point out that residential tenants may have a right to counsel but they do not have right to their rezoned buildings.”

Over the last two years, the city has worked with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to develop a rezoning proposal for the Inwood area for residential and commercial development in areas on and east of 10th Avenue both north and south of the MTA rail yard, which are currently zoned for industrial or auto-uses.

The rezoning would include an increase in residential density on West 207th Street, Dyckman Street and Broadway. In all upzoned areas, the city would institute mandatory inclusionary housing, which requires that a portion of the units be rent-restricted. The surrounding residential area roughly from Thayer Street to West 218 Street would be “contextually rezoned”—subjected to height limits and other restrictions to preserve the neighborhood character. Areas where Con Edison facilities are located and the tip of Manhattan, where the city intends to encourage job-focused development, will be designated as industrial.

Other components of the proposal range from various land use actions, improving waterfront access and the redevelopment of Inwood library with over 100 units of income-targeted housing above the new library and a Pre-K program.

According to city estimates, these changes could lead to the development of 4,348 units of housing, 472,685 square feet of community facility space, 1,135,032 square feet of commercial space, and a decrease of 50,614 square feet of light industrial space. The city’s new certificate of no harassment program will also be applied to protect Inwood tenants.

The proposal is also part of a larger plan for the neighborhood that includes investments in neighborhood infrastructure, improvements to waterfront access, economic development initiatives, strategies to prevent displacement and more.

The Inwood proposal has been met with censure from Inwood residents, community groups and city officials  who fear gentrification, displacement for minority and low-income residents, and the loss of small businesses and jobs. Those fears brought Inwood community groups together to create a coalition which proposed their own rezoning plan. The local Community Board approved parts of the city’s proposal but rejected others* and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer voted against the proposal and called for major changes.

Earlier in the year, the city released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement detailing the potential impacts of the Inwood rezoning. According to the DEIS, there will be no “direct residential displacement,” or resident displacement due to demolition and redevelopment.The city identified 33 sites most likely to be redeveloped and says none of these sites contain apartments.

But those 33 sites contain 26 businesses providing jobs for 271 workers in the fields of food service, health care, transportation, and warehousing and accounting for three percent of total employment in the half-mile area, including two large supermarkets could be affected by “indirect displacement.”

The EIS did not detect a potential for significant “indirect” residential displacement caused by a changing market and rising rents. It noted that 83 percent of the rental housing in the area is rent-regulated or subsidized. The law allows deregulation when an apartment’s rent is $2,700 or more and the tenant’s total household income exceeds $200,000.

The EIS did acknowledge impacts on library services, open space, shadows, historic and cultural resources, traffic, pedestrian movement, transit, construction.


* Correction: The original version of this article erroneously reported that CB12 had approved the rezoning with conditions. In fact, the board passed a nuanced resolution that assessed the distinct land-use changes encompassed by the city’s plan, approved some and rejected others.

 

14 thoughts on “Planning Commission Approves Inwood Rezoning

  1. The NYC planning commission misrepresents reality when it argues that the EDC plan is based on community involvement. What part of the community? Property owners with a vested interest in support of Inwood Rezoning.

    Actually, a more accurate reflection of community sentiment was voiced in CB12’s resolution opposing rezoning and the Manhattan borough presidents no vote on the rezoning proposal. Unfortunately, the city planning commission failed to consider majority sentiment in their vote supporting rezoning.

    Finally, I offer much praise to commission member Michelle De La Uz for her lone dissenting vote. I fear her concern about the loss of immigrant owned businesses and rent stabilized apartments will become reality as it has in other rezoned areas of NYC.

    Shame on the city planning for their irresponsible vote supporting Inwood Rezoning.

  2. I am an Inwood resident and am VERY happy to hear this, not everyone up hear is against the rezoning. I look forward to the ammenities that will eventually follow to our area. I understand those that are concerned about thier rents but they will be fine, I understand the paranoia, but just as it was down in my old neighborhood (Soho) my family was/is protected with apt rent control/stabilization laws that will protect current resudents that rent.

    • I’ve heard that residents are suffering from their preferential rents being raised. Won’t that still be an issue?

      • Preferential rents can’t be raised if the lease or rider allows the preferential rent to remain for the tenancy. When you enter into such agreement the language is very important. As an example,
        there is a difference between ‘a’ and ‘the’ in a contract.

  3. Finally, after all this and the hysterical objections of a certain resident on 190th who is on the edge of the zone in question, we are going to get a City Council vote. The plan is sound and fair for a Manhattan neighborhood. I look forward to more public space and more new apartments in my hood.

    • What “more public space”? The rezoning only requires a sliver of 20 ft to 40 ft along the waterfront when parcels there are individually developed, which will be piecemeal and in many cases never. A tiny walkway 20 ft wide with nothing on it one block long is not exactly “more public space” for thousands of new apartments to use. Meanwhile, the public resources that do exist — schools, parks, etc. — now get burdened with something like 15,000 to 30,000 more population and no money to fund improvements or additions.

      The plan is well-meaning in bullet-point form but a joke in terms of how it was actually executed. (i.e. “We’ll reinforce character by requiring local retail on streets” turned into “You can have whatever retail use you want, including nightclubs and big box stores.”)
      Your willful blindness will not work out well for you or anyone else.

  4. It’s a sad day when the City Planning Commission acts as the City Politics Commission.

    The plan has serious, demonstrable flaws that any serious planner would have at least made some changes to. There is nothing wrong with rezoning industrial parts of Inwood for new residential and commercial development but this is the wrong plan, rammed through without community input (it hasn’t materially changed since 2006), with a very poor selection of uses and densities that make for good soundbites but in many ways will have the exact opposite impact of how they were spun. Extremely disappointing work by city staffers – I expected better from them throughout this process, and even more disappointing lack of work by CPC to dig into any of the plan’s details and issues and address them. Might as well rename it the de Blasio Rubber Stamp Commission.

    At least Amanda Burden would have given us a new park. Now we get no new parks, no neighborhood improvements, no new community facilities, no police precinct, no historic or zoning protections for soft sites, nothing at all except a doubling of population and loss of what was Manhattan’s last true neighborhood. Thanks a lot, EDC and CPC. We won’t soon forget what you have done to the place we call home.

  5. Soooo…15,000 more people at least, air rights created out of thin blue air for developers to create luxury high rises and not a single school? I’m not suprised considering the owners of property upzoned to the highest height paid lobbyists including a former member of the local Community Education Council to lobby on their behalf.

    Alicia Glen and the real estate syndicate aren’t even in pretending to give back to the community anymore. The mayor is out to lunch or bought, doesn’t really matter which, and the residents of Inwood are about to be whitewashed worse than Trump would do to them in his wildest dreams.

    Oh, and the irony of affordable housing not affordable to those who live in the neighborhood. -the secret sauce to turbocharge gentrification to make those luxury units sell sell sell in areas never thought possible before this housing scam of BDB.

  6. Pingback: Inwood Rezoning Nears the Finish Line - Connect Media Commercial Real Estate News

  7. An absolute disgrace! This rezoning plan was formulated under Mayor Bloomberg. Inwood residents have been completely ignored. The Uptown United Platform is an alternative rezoning that is more sustainable and supported by the majority of the neighborhood.
    The fact that Michelle de la Uz, who has strong connections with libraries, had the audacity to vote yes to the Inwood Library Demolition Plan, while pretending to care about displacement, is particularly vile.
    When will we get our city back from real estate speculators?

  8. I am old enough to remember when Inwood actually had only a tiny sub-branch for a library, with a grumpy librarian reluctant to let a ten year old borrow books until my mother gave her a good lecture. Now the “new” library on Broadway is to close so apartments can be built above it? Only a malevolent nutcase or a greedhead could have come up with such nonsense.
    And while the broken down garages and other buildings north of the MTA yards are more of a blight than a community benefit, the vague promise of some sort of job creating businesses there is a fantasy.
    Instead of cramming upscale apartments along 207th or Dyckman , the businesses already there and their customers would benefit a lot more with improved parking.
    Inwood already has sufficient upscale apartments around Park Terrace East and West, as well as private homes on 218th and on the Park Terraces.
    This plan sucks!

  9. Most of Inwood is parkland, you don’t improve parkland, you maintain it. East of 10th Avenue has always been ignored and to suddenly populate it with nearly 2,000 new residents is going to cause problems these fat heads have ignored. You’ll need hiking boots to get to the #1 or A trains. Parking your car will be limited because there’s no place to park. This will affect any retail store people have to travel to. Inwood isn’t like any other place on Manhattan and should have been left alone but when you elect bubble heads; all you are going to see are bubbles bursting.

  10. Looks like the people worried about gentrification have a point –

    NYT ‘Living in Inwood’ 7/11/18 – – https://nyti.ms/2L3VAo9

    ‘She said the neighborhood is becoming “more trendy” and “really cool,” with an influx of co-op buyers who prefer coffeehouses and cocktails to pubs and bodegas.’

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