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Two Rezonings and Three Cheers for City Council
August 20, 2018
The approval of a neighborhood rezoning in Inwood and a tech hub in Union Square will help New York City continue to thrive for generations to come.
Inwood is Manhattan’s northernmost neighborhood bounded by the Harlem River to the north and east, and the Hudson River to the west. The thoughtful and sensible rezoning package includes construction of a two-acre waterfront park, various infrastructure improvements and the redevelopment of the Inwood library – which will include 100 percent deeply affordable units for the neighborhood and a universal pre-K center.
Most importantly, the proposal includes the construction of at least 1,500 new affordable housing units in a neighborhood that desperately needs them. At least 2,500 existing affordable homes in Inwood and Washington Heights will be preserved and protected with new resources to prevent displacement and keep apartment buildings affordable.
The rezoning will help alleviate the pressure on Inwood’s housing stock and provide relief for its long-time residents. In total, the proposal will bring hundreds of millions of dollars of investment to Inwood, which is great news for everyone who visits, works, or lives in the neighborhood.
The Union Square Tech Hub will help modernize Union Square and introduce a 21-story tech center to Manhattan. It will be a truly innovative space. Workforce development programs will be housed on the lower levels. Tech training non-profit and Microsoft grant recipient Civic Hall will be a major component of the building. Five floors will be reserved for early-stage companies and rented at an affordable space, while the rest of the building will be market-rate offices. The pieces of the project are designed to help companies to move, both figuratively and literally, from the bottom to the top.
The two rezonings will help New York address its ongoing housing crisis as well as create jobs by inviting cutting-edge technology companies to Manhattan.
The Council deserves credit for standing up to the usual crowd of Not In My Backyard opponents who objected to both proposals. In fact, both rezonings were carefully planned and thoroughly debated. Without an influx of new affordable housing in Inwood, for example, long-time residents would have a much harder time finding affordable housing and would thus be at an even greater risk of displacement. Pressure on New York’s neighborhoods will only intensify as the city’s population grows – and those new residents will need homes, too.
Unfortunately, these are the dynamics now looming in Jackson Heights, Queens, where a plan for 120 apartments which included 30 percent of the units at below market rents was torpedoed last month after the local Council Member there told the developers to pull their application.
However, last week, Council Speaker Johnson and Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez and Carlina Rivera demonstrated leadership for focusing on common sense proposals that will improve their districts now and in the long term. The Inwood and Union Square Tech Hub rezonings will create thousands of jobs and thousands of units of affordable housing at a time when New York needs both. In other words, the Council has prioritized the long-term interests of the city – and that is an outcome every New Yorker should cheer.