In wake of failed Inwood rezoning, city returns with new affordable housing pitch

De Blasio administration wants to bring "100% affordable" apartments to the site of a library
By Will Parker | January 05, 2017 02:50PM

4790 Broadway and Vicki Been (credit: Google Maps)

It was less than six months ago that Mayor Bill De Blasio lost a pivotal battle to rezone and redevelop a corner lot in Inwood into a residential tower with market-rate and affordable housing. But now his administration is back with the beginnings of a separate proposal for the area promising much deeper affordability.

The Housing Preservation and Development agency announced Thursday that it would partner with the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York Public Library to explore redevelopment for affordable housing at the Inwood Library, located at 4790 Broadway.

According to a release from the city, residential plans for the site will include “100% affordable housing.” Funding for a new library, which will stay at the site, will be sourced by HPD and Robin Hood.

“This project presents an exciting opportunity for creative plans to create affordable housing to be developed hand in hand with the revitalization of an important neighborhood asset – the Inwood public library,” HPD Commissioner Vicki Been said in a statement.

Before the city solicits Request for Proposals (RFPs) from developers, it will hold workshops at the library to record input from Inwood residents. Those workshops are set for Jan. 25 and 28. The city’s announcement Thursday did not offer any idea as to the scale of a possible project.

In early 2016, many in the north Manhattan neighborhood struck out in fierce opposition to a plan from Washington Square Partners TRData LogoTINY and Acadia Realty Trust (and backed by the mayor) to rezone a corner at Broadway and Sherman Avenue for a high-rise rental project. Although the 335-unit plan included over 100 units with rents affordable to those making less than 80 percent the area median income, critics argued that a mostly market-rate project would elevate area rents, creating more widespread affordability problems. They also argued that the affordability offered by the plan was not deep enough to meet the needs of the 27 percent of Inwood residents who make less than $24,000 annually.

Although the developers did eventually pledge to set half of the units at below market rents, the City Council rejected the rezoning in August of last year.

HPD’s new idea for Inwood is not the city’s first housing-cum-library redevelopment project. A little over the year ago, the City Council voted yay to allow David Kramer’s Hudson Companies to redevelop a Brooklyn Heights library into a 134-unit condo tower under the condition that affordable units also be created.