By Carla Zanoni
UPPER MANHATTAN — Changing the landscape of Washington Heights and Inwood will take a lot longer than a "New York Minute."
Community Board 12 approved a resolution asking the city to consider rezoning sections of Washington Heights to update three key areas of the neighborhood at its last executive meeting. Those areas have remained untouched by city planners since the 1960s.
The board’s resolution passed on Sept. 26 was the culmination of a more than six-year study of the district that seeks to change three sections from zoning that only allows for automotive intensive space with to zoning that would allow for residential and street level commercial use.
Although the study initially looked at six areas throughout the CB12 district, the resolution presented to the Department of City Planning only focuses on three key areas in Washington Heights: Broadway between W. 173rd and W. 177th streets, Broadway between W. 181st and W. 187th streets and Amsterdam Avenue between W. 179th and W. 181st streets.
Two areas were immediately ruled out for a rezoning analysis.
A lot on W. 158th Street was ruled out, because of its "small size," as was a section of Inwood on Tenth Avenue, between W. 207th and W. 218th streets, and Broadway between W. 215th and W. 218th streets, because the district reflects "uses intended by C8 zoning."
Another Inwood section between Dyckman Street and Riverside Drive, between Payson and Staff streets, was also ruled out for rezoning after it was found to primarily house industrial and automotive space amongst residential buildings.
The Parks department also voiced concern that any development allowed in the area should be capped at a certain height that would not block views of Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters in the future.
Not all members of the board agreed with CB12’s resolution.
Zead Ramadan staunchly opposed the resolution during the Sept. 26 meeting, saying he would prefer to see a more formulaic approach to rezoning, suggesting the district be cut into sections for rezoning rather than chosen block-by-block.
"This gives you the impression that there is a developer ready to pop in there anytime," he said during the CB12 executive meeting.
But Wayne Benjamin, chair of the CB12 Land Use committee, said a broad approach was not the right way to go.
"We didn’t see that as making sense for Washington Heights and Inwood," he said.
The next step is for the Department of City Planning to review the board’s recommendations with the board itself, key stakeholders and elected officials in the area.