Rodriguez Defends Rezoning Plan for Inwood

Protestors at the Monday night really against the Inwood rezoning. (Photo by Gregg McQueen via Manhattan Times)

As expected, the New York City Council voted on Wednesday Aug. 8 to approve the rezoning of Inwood, the northernmost neighborhood in Manhattan. The action clears the way for the development of underutilized parcels in the eastern part of Inwood, and devotes resources toward the renovation of parks and the local library, and the establishment of a new technical school at the George Washington Educational Campus, among other changes.

Following the vote, Council member Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents the neighborhood, said in a statement: “My community deserves the best. We came into these negotiations with very high expectations because we are a community of hardworking residents who have, against all odds, thrived in underserved neighborhoods that have seen very little affordable housing development in the last 50 years. This plan is an important first step in strengthening our community and an opportunity to bring many of the resources we currently lack in our neighborhood. We have secured over $200 million in public funds for new commitments in our community. In the next five years, we will create, preserve and protect over 5,000 affordable housing units.”

The rezoning passed the City Council Subcommittee on Rezoning and Franchises last week after revisions. But residents and numerous politicians opposed the plan in recent months, and even following the revisions, community members staged a protest Monday night in advance of the vote.

Gregg McQueen of Manhattan Times spoke with Rodriguez at length before the Aug. 8 vote by the council. Saying that “a rezoning is never perfect,” Rodriguez discounted claims by opponents that displacement would result from the plan. Rodriguez told Manhattan Times:

A rezoning creates different opinions that people express in different ways. I hope that after we vote tomorrow, people will get to see that the centerpiece of this rezoning is about preservation. It’s not what people have been misleading others with, telling that this rezoning is to push people out.

This is a rezoning that will bring millions of dollars to provide lawyers to tenants that could be the victim of bad actors in the real estate community. This is a rezoning [in which] we provided the best plan that we’ve have ever had in any rezoning, getting a commitment on a number of public sites that over the next couple of years will be used to build 100 percent affordable [housing], similar to the one with the library, where the income requirement is going to be from $24,000 to $56,000.

This rezoning is about investing in our parks, the schools, and arts.

Rodriguez noted that he had responded to objections from Rep. Adriano Espaillat and others concerning the “commercial U” that was in the original rezoning proposal, and agreed to remove it. Read more about his thinking at Manhattan Times.

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