After a heated rally and mounting concerns about gentrification, the City Council's Zoning Subcommittee decided to delay a meeting to vote on rezoning an Upper Manhattan tract eyed by a luxury developer.
Acadia Realty Trust hopes to build a new apartment complex in a parking lot at Sherman Avenue and Broadway, and its request for a spot rezoning would be the first under Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing plans. Some local residents say the proposed building won't have enough affordable housing for the community and will also drive up rents in the neighborhood. At a contentious rally on Saturday, some accused their City Council Member, Ydanis Rodriguez, of not doing enough for them; one woman who has lived in Inwood for 60 years said, "From the moment we elect people to represent us, they're supposed to be committed to us. But really, all they do is defraud us."
Rodriguez went on the Brian Lehrer Show yesterday to try to clarify the situation, which he blamed on people spreading rumors of "Trump-like" development to scare residents. He later sent a letter to constituents explaining the vote would be postponed for now: "I have read your emails, from those of you in support as well as those of you with concerns and fears about what a rezoning could mean. These perspectives are of the utmost importance and weighing what is best for the community going forward will determine our final decision."
"The choice is not a simple one, by voting no, there is absolutely no opportunity to build desperately needed affordable housing at this site. The developers will be further empowered to build a luxury tower at a minimum of 14 stories, with 200 units at fully market price. This request has already been submitted to the relevant city agencies.
"By voting yes, the building proposed for this site would include 50% of the units below market rate, with 30% of the units at deeper affordability levels. Additionally, 50% of the affordable units mentioned would be designated to residents of community board 12. Negotiations with the developers have also produced lower rent for 10% of the retail space and 25,000 square feet of rent-free community space for local cultural/non-profit institutions."
Former Community Board 12 member George Fernandez, who is running for State Assembly, isn't convinced, arguing on WNYC yesterday, "Developers don't keep their promises. There's no law that can hold a developer accountable to their MOU [memorandum of understanding]."
Inwood resident Karen Fernandez gave us another theory on Saturday: "[Acadia wants] the rezoning so they can flip the site and sell it for a profit. Once the site is rezoned, they can sell the site and whoever buys it is not obliged to any affordable housing agreements."