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Protests and demonstrations before final Inwood rezoning vote

A rezoning plan for the neighborhood of Inwood, at the northern tip of Manhattan, is just one vote away from becoming reality. And while the plan has the support of many City officials as well as the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the rezoning proposal has its fair share of opponents.

Last week, two City Council committees voted in favor of the plan, and this Wednesday, the full City Council will vote on whether to pass the rezoning plan into law. The plan would rezone most of the Inwood neighborhood north of Thayer Street in order to develop thousands of affordable apartment units, encourage economic development in the community, facilitate the development of open space along the Harlem River, and “preserve community character” west of 10th Avenue, according to the City.

The plan will include the City building 925 new affordable apartments on public land, the City working to finance 1,000 new affordable apartments on private land, an estimated 675 additional affordable units created via Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, the City working to preserve or protect at least 2,500 homes, and the City giving Inwood residents access to free legal services to all low-income households facing eviction in Housing Court.

The plan was modified before gaining the approval of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Land Use Committee and will exclude a central section of the neighborhood while removing the part of the plan that called for the upzoning of main commercial corridors in the areas between Dyckman Street and West 207th Street, bordered by Broadway.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents Inwood, announced August 2nd that the City had agreed to invest $500 million into the neighborhood as part of the rezoning and that two parcels of land owned by the city’s Department of Transportation will be the site of a 100  percent affordable development.

The Inwood rezoning would also introduce the City’s first-ever pilot program that would provide small businesses with rent-controlled leases for a 10-year period. Any new developments to rise along the Harlem River within the neighborhood of Inwood would be required to provide waterfront access to the public.

“Today was a good day in the City Council and for the cause of creating more jobs and affordable housing in New York City,” said REBNY president John Banks in a statement last Thursday.  “Council Speaker Johnson and Councilmembers Salamanca, Moya, Rivera and Rodriguez, along with the members of the Subcommittee, should be commended for focusing on what is in the City’s best, long-term interests.”

But while the plan has the support of many, other housing organizations have come out against the plan, saying it will displace longtime residents and small businesses.

After the plan was approved by two Council committees last Thursday, activists protested outside Rodriguez’s office that evening and into the next day. On Friday, one activist was arrested outside the Councilman’s office.

And on Monday, a group of housing advocacy organizations and local Inwood community groups marched through the neighborhood of Inwood on Monday evening in protest to the plan.

“This rezoning plan will benefit for-profit developers and will lead to major displacement of both tenants and small businesses, with a disparate discriminatory impact on immigrants, women, and people of color,” said the Met Council on Housing in statement on August 6th. “Residents reject the Mayor’s position that community benefits can only come alongside aggressive rezonings.”

Groups that participated in the march included Met Council on Housing, Inwood Small Business Coalition, Save Inwood Library, Inwood Preservation, and the NYC chapter of Democratic Socialists of America.

Featured image via @GreggMcQ on Twitter

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