INWOOD — The InwoodNYC rezoning proposal — first introduced to the community in 2015 through a series of workshops on rezoning, housing, small businesses and community programs — is back and a “long way from over,” city officials said.
The city's Economic Development Corporation, which is spearheading the rezoning discussion with the support of Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, returned to the community last Thursday with the latest iteration of the proposal that now incorporates more neighborhood streets and a slew of goals meant to “meet Inwood’s pressing needs.”
The EDC said the rezoning will break down the community into five subdistricts, known as the tip of Manhattan, Upland Wedge, Upland Core, Commercial U and Sherman Creek. Some areas will then be upzoned to spur development of new housing and commercial space.
The city said more than 2,000 residents have participated in the InwoodNYC workshops and community meetings in the past two years.
“In terms of concerns, we heard a lot — clearly,” said Adam Meagher, vice president of Development. “I would say more than any single, specific comment it’s clear that there is a lot of mistrust over what rezoning means and what it means for this neighborhood specifically.”
But the EDC said the current action plan is a “proposal in a particular moment in time” that addresses several concerns from the individual and local small businesses to the infrastructure of the streets and transportation, and that there will be more opportunities as the process moves forward to continue taking public comment.
Here are five key takeaways from the most recent presentation and what several community stakeholders have to say about the latest report:
► The Current Zoning Is More Than 50 Years Old
The zoning in Inwood, according to Meagher, is more than 50 years old and has not been revisited since it was first put into place in 1961. The affordable housing stock, he added, is the community’s main resource and the vast majority is either rent regulated or part of the Dyckman Houses. "Rents in Inwood are rising faster than the New York City average, so one of the things that's happening in Inwood is that almost no new housing has been built in the last few decades, including very little affordable housing," Meagher said, adding that some of it has to do with zoning not allowing it. "As a result of that, as the neighborhood changes, as market forces in New York City change, as New York City grows, there is more and more pressures on a housing stock and an affordable housing stock that is not growing."
► Changes Already Happening As Part of the InwoodNYC Plan
The city said changes to the community are already happening. Meagher said the city has already invested $42 million into the community. These investments include the $30 million for Highbridge Park renovations as part of the “Anchor Parks” initiative, the opening of legal services in Inwood and the $1.23 million for the Neighborhood 360° program.
► The Inwood Rezoning Expanded to Include the Complete Study Area
The EDC initially introduced a “study area” of Inwood for the rezoning from all of Dyckman Street to the northern tip of Manhattan. The city later decided to focus on the more industrial areas of the community east of 10th Avenue from Dyckman Street and along Broadway to the tip of northern Manhattan. It was after this area was defined — as a “special district” with customized zoning regulations for the area — that the city paused community outreach after several elected officials requested that the city reconsider what area was being rezoned. The city returned with a proposal it said most closely matches what characterizes the parts of the neighborhood today. Residents are concerned, however, that the expanded version excludes the streets south of Dyckman Street, which has been the focus of some of the highest levels of pressures from developers, including the Sherman Plaza project last year. The Sherman Plaza project on Sherman Avenue and Broadway was the first individual project to be proposed under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s neighborhood rezoning plan.
► Changes to Industrial Areas and Commercial Streets
The EDC said the current proposal addresses the heavy industrial areas of the community along east of 10th Avenue and the commercial areas on Dyckman Street that encourages building housing and other developments along the waterfront. The InwoodNYC zoning proposal will provide a "commercial and community-facility development" that can produce a significant number of jobs that have "family-supporting wages,” Meagher said. “While there are no specific proposal or immediate plans that we know of to do that, we want to make sure that the zoning we’re putting in place does not prevent that opportunity.”
► What Happens Next
“What happens next, the city takes this proposal and releases a draft scope of work,” Meagher said, adding that this document will include the current information, “but in a lot more detail.” That process, Meagher said, then prompts a scoping hearing in Inwood that gives the public an opportunity “to comment on how you think the city should go about analyzing potential environmental impact of this proposal.” This environmental impact statement then initiates the process of ULURP. This part takes approximately seven months, Meagher said. Many residents, weary with the proposal, said the city needs to report back on all the community feedback. The chair of Land Use, Wayne Benjamin, echoed those concerns saying the board is looking forward to “how that input is actually reflected.”