City officials said Tuesday they’re making progress on goals contained in the rezoning of Inwood, however, some residents say there has been little headway since the Council approved the plan about a year ago.
City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez held a news conference at the Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Mathematics to tout affordable housing achievements and the groundwork laid for park renovations, a new library and an immigrant cultural center. With Rodriguez’s backing, the Council voted in August 2018 to alter development rules in nearly 60 blocks of Inwood, which paves the way for larger buildings — provided a portion of their units be rented at below-market-rate. The move was controversial, particularly among leaders and groups who believed the rezoning would incentivize landlords to force out the many rent-regulated tenants in the area.
So far, the rezoning has led to the preservation of 992 below-market-rate units in the community board that covers Inwood and Washington Heights, Rodriguez and the city’s Economic Development Corporation said. A spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, said those units were preserved through regulatory agreements that prevented them from going
Additionally, the city has enrolled 3,600 residents in northern Manhattan in rent-freeze programs, according to the EDC.
EDC President James Patchett said his team recently selected a landscape architect to design Harlem River waterfront parks near Academy Street and North 207th Street.
"We’re working closely with the Parks Department and the community to determine what those parks would look like," Patchett said.
The library system is still working out the details of plans to redevelop the 4790 Broadway library as part of a larger mixed-use development with space for a pre-K, according to Iris Weinshall, the chief operating officer of the New York Public Library. She expects the new library to open by 2022.
Several aspects of the rezoning plan may not manifest for years, such as the creation of 2,600 affordable apartments, and the new cultural center, the councilman said the city has started working toward achieving those goals.
"They have created the necessary resources," Rodriguez said.
Community Board 12 will create a task force focused on concerns related to the rezoning, Rodriguez said. However, some Inwood activists contend the councilman and city are ignoring their voices when it comes to the rezoning.
As Rodriguez was concluded the news conference, Paul Epstein, a member from Northern Manhattan is Not for Sale attempted to ask for more details about affordable housing construction projects, but the councilman took off.
Northern Manhattan is Not for Sale has long argued the EDC did not do a thorough review of how the zoning could impact neighborhood rents and demographics and is challenging the matter in court. Epstein said Rodriguez’s announcement failed to offer meaningful updates.
"It’s the same stuff. It’s not like there’s anything new," he said.
Philip Simpson, the attorney for Northern Manhattan is Not for Sale and the other plaintiffs in the case, said they are awaiting the judge’s decision.