The Economic Development Corporation’s rezoning plans for Inwood remain controversial, but last week EDC announced it would answer a demand shared by a variety of stakeholders—a contextual rezoning for several residential parts of the neighborhood.
The Inwood NYC Planning Initiative is one of about a dozen rezonings currently under consideration as part of the mayor’s plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing. EDC says its goals for Inwood include converting the industrial land by the waterfront to a thriving mixed-use area, creating a publicly accessible waterfront, supporting local employment and businesses and investing in infrastructure. Local stakeholders have expressed a mix of reactions, from concerns about population growth to a desire to see new housing be deeply affordable and not contribute to the area’s gentrification.
Until recently, the city’s proposal focused on converting the auto and industrial areas on Tenth Avenue and east to medium- to high-density residential and commercial areas. Over the past year, however, community stakeholders have called for a contextual rezoning for the areas west of 10th Avenue.
Contextual rezonings limit density and institute other requirements to ensure that what is allowed to be built is similar to what’s already there. In practice, they help to discourage demolitions and preserve the existing housing stock. They also make it less likely that a developer will succeed in getting a large upzoning in the future.
On March 31, Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez and Borough President Gale Brewer added their voices to the chorus, writing a letter to the administration that called for a contextual rezoning in addition to a neighborhood-specific preservation plan and “aggressive approach to the creation of affordable housing” through the development of public land and the use of city-subsidies.