The Real Deal New York

Will Washington Heights get affordable development — or an ambulance depot?

August 30, 2012 01:00PM

A 7,000-square-foot Washington Heights lot at 2262 Amsterdam Avenue has become a source of dispute between City Hall and affordable housing advocates, the New York Daily News reported. The property, which is owned by the city, could be the site of 90 affordable housing units in a neighborhood where new affordable housing is rare. However, the city sees the site as a good location for an ambulance depot, which they say would improve response time and improve access to critical services.

“Washington Heights has needed its own EMS station for more than 15 years,” Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano told the Daily News, “and we finally have a site where we plan to build it.”

A group of residents and elected officials, including City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who rallied at the site earlier this week to demand the construction of apartments, said there is need for an EMS depot in the neighborhood, but said there are industrial sites in the neighborhood for it to occupy.

Washington Heights is located in Manhattan Community District 12, which over the past eight years has developed 239 total units of affordable housing and preserved 1,448. Those affordable housing numbers pale in comparison to affordable construction figures in Central Harlem in Community District 10, where 2,800 units have been built and 9,625 preserved.

As previously reported, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, the 10-year program aimed at creating and preserving 165,000 affordable-housing units, is on track. The success was attributed to an increased focus on preservation rather than on creation. [NYDN]