In recent years, while glass towers mushroomed along the Manhattan shoreline, the tip of the borough’s peninsula eluded the forces of development. Famously home to the last natural forest in the borough, Inwood also ranked ninth-to-last in the city—and in Manhattan, last of all—in the number of permits issued for new residential construction in 2014.
Ydanis Rodriguez, the councilman for Washington Heights and Inwood, has long believed his neighborhood could do better. In 2013, he proposed a vision he called “Northern Manhattan 2030.” Admonishing the Bloomberg administration for excluding Inwood from its citywide planning efforts, Rodriguez called on the next mayor to heed his vision.
It included rezoning the east side of Inwood by the Harlem River and decking over the MTA rail yards to facilitate the creation of at least 10,000 units of affordable housing, along with retail, community space and an early childhood learning center. It also included a new CUNY campus and, in later renditions of the plan, a number of initiatives to turn Inwood into a health and technology hub that would attract businesses like Google and create opportunities for local students to enter careers in technology.
Two years later, Rodriguez had his calls answered: In the spring of 2015, his district became the latest pick for a rezoning as part of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing. While in other rezoning neighborhoods, the Department of City Planning has been the lead facilitator, in Inwood the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), is spearheading the study in partnership with Rodriguez and other city agencies.