WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — It’s been a long and busy year in Uptown — and there are no signs of 2017 being any slower.
From residents keeping a wary eye on plans to rezone Inwood real estate, to troubles with Community Board 12's meeting space, to a host of new elected officials, here are five stories that will stay in the headlines in the months to come.
Despite finally paying off three years of rent worth $338,000 to Columbia University, CB12 was told earlier this month that it would no longer be allowed to use office space inside the Alianza Triangle Building at 530 W. 166th St. for night meetings. Its landlord, Alianza Dominicana Inc., demanded to be paid extra for the cost of security.
The sublease, which the board had arranged through Columbia University, according to CB12, doesn’t include the cost of evening security even though the board was clear about its need for night access prior to moving into the space in 2013. The board was able to wrap up the committee and general board meetings through the end of the year, but it remains unclear if they’ll be able to renegotiate the lease to continue using the space moving forward.
After years of representing Uptown as an Assemblyman and State Senator, Adriano Espaillat is moving on to the nation's capital — taking over longtime Rep. Charles Rangel's seat in Congress representing the 13th District. His win was an historic one in Harlem, which has been represented for the past 71 years by two black congressmen, Rangel and his predecessor, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
Credit: DNAinfo/Carolina Pichardo
Already the tension is brewing with Espaillat’s replacement, Marisol Alcantara, who plans to join the Independent Democratic Conference — a breakaway group that caucuses with the Republicans. Alcantara's onetime opponents, former Councilman Robert Jackson and Micah Lasher, have tried to raise public pressure to force Alcantara to change her position, saying voters didn't know she planned to join the group, but to little apparent avail. Alcantara received sizeable campaign contributions — approximately $570,000 — from the IDC and IDC members, according to reports.
A high-rise residential building that had been slated for Sherman Ave. and Broadway as part of the first individual project proposed under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing plan was brought down by community advocates who protested throughout the summer and ultimately prevailed with City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.
The project, however, was the first of two proposed in the community. The second, the Inwood NYC Planning Initiative, which would rezone parts of the area, is still in the early feedback stage. Residents will have an opportunity “from now until the ULURP process wraps up to provide feedback and suggest changes to the plan,” EDC officials said in August, adding that they planned to continue to organize events and workshops with the community in the coming months to further explain the project.
EDC spokeswoman Stephanie Baez said in an email to DNAinfo New York the EDC is "continuing our discussions with Council Member Rodriguez and other stakeholders" and "will have more updates in early 2017.” The last date for a public meeting was August 25, with the Inwood Preservation Group, according to the EDC website.
The George Washington Bridge renovation project has been a series of stops and starts since late 2014 after the developers George Washington Bridge Redevelopment Venture LLC blamed construction changes and financial concerns for the delays.
The project was slated to wrap up in 2015, but was then delayed until the final quarter of 2016 and was again recently pushed back until April 2017.
Along the way, developers have been accused of keeping businesses, local community leaders and neighbors in the dark about the status of the project. A recent meeting planned for Community Board 12 — where questions were expected to be submitted ahead of time — was canceled at the last minute. A new meeting is scheduled for January, but whether it will move forward is unclear given the status of CB12's meeting space (see above.)
Credit: DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya