Inwood’s new zoning guidelines are starting to go into effect, and not surprisingly, land purchases are gradually increasing and construction projects are breaking ground. Though accompanied by a promise of $200 million in public investments, the rezoning could facilitate a wave of gentrification in the largely Hispanic neighborhood at the top of Manhattan.
In August 2018, the rezoning plan, put forth by the de Blasio administration, was approved by the City Council, proposing to keep or add a total of 4,100 affordable housing units in the neighborhood by 2032. However, the plan will also have a noticeable effect on building heights and owners, shifting property control from residents to incoming developers, and building types from manufacturing and owner-operated one-story or low-rise businesses to high-rises with mixed residential and commercial spaces. Below is a map from the Manhattan Borough President’s Office outlining the specific zoning changes and newly allowed building heights, broken down by neighborhood zones.
Average monthly rents in the neighborhood are currently $1,750 for one-bedroom apartments, and $2,300 for two bedrooms, according to RentHop. Alongside Washington Heights and Harlem, Inwood is heralded as one of the last affordable neighborhoods in Manhattan. Many have voiced concern over the rezoning’s impact on future affordability, as well as its possible repercussions for the current residents.
“Northern Manhattan is Not for Sale”
In response to the 2018 approval of the plan by the City Council, members of the Inwood community came together and created a coalition called “Northern Manhattan is Not for Sale.” Inwood Legal Action represented the community group and filed a lawsuit on its behalf, citing the unavoidable displacement of Black and brown residents (who currently make up the majority of Inwood’s population) that the rezoning and new developments would cause. In late 2019, the cause of the residents was upheld by Verna Saunders, a New York Supreme Court Justice, who nullified the rezoning. Then, over the summer of 2020, the ruling by Saunders was reversed on appeal by the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court. Since then, developers have slowly started moving in, purchasing auto-body repair shops, razing a community library, and digging foundations for taller buildings than the neighborhood has previously seen.
Racial Impact Study Bill
In light of residents’ concerns, this summer, the City Council approved the Racial Impact Study Bill, initiating the creation of an equitable development data tool and requiring its use by future developers to assess the possible gentrification and displacement effects in a neighborhood before construction begins. You can read more about the bill here and here. The bill aims to force developers to use a quantitative tool to reflect on the impact of rezoning for current residents of working-class neighborhoods across the city. The tool has yet to go into use, so its efficacy has yet to be evaluated.
Developments in Progress
Some of the incoming developments in Inwood include Sherman Creek North Cove (currently on pause after residents protested its build), a residential high rise by Taconic Partners at 410 West 207th Street, and the Eliza (the building taking the place of the former community library). Of these, Sherman Creek North Cove and the Eliza are set to provide 100% of their residential units as affordable housing.
The Eliza, to be built on public land by the city, is planned to have 14 stories and 174 units, set to open in 2023. Its lower floors will house community space with an even larger library and a prekindergarten, and the units will be available to families making less than $26,000 a year, including individuals and families formerly experiencing homelessness. The Taconic Partners property will replace a former Pathmark grocery store with 690 mixed-income residential units and some commercial space, set to open in 2025. Across the street from the Taconic plot is the proposed Sherman Creek North Cove. This building is planned to have 611 affordable housing units and 60,000 square feet of commercial space, stand 30 stories tall, and be developed by Maddd Equities and designed by Aufgang Architects. If permissions go through by the end of 2021, construction is anticipated to be completed by 2024.
Other incoming changes to Inwood from the rezoning include public investments in new schools, two new waterfront parks, and intersection improvements along 10th Avenue.
The Inwood rezoning is part of a series of rezoning measures implemented by the de Blasio administration across the city, including East New York in Brooklyn, Downtown Far Rockaway in Queens, East Harlem in Manhattan, and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. As developers trickle in, residents will continue watching carefully, as it will certainly bring changes to the neighborhood.
Leland is a writer and curator, passionate about the arts and real estate. She especially wants to share clear details about the housing market so that prospective buyers and tenants can make their best-informed decisions.