Developers throw support behind city’s effort to reinstate Inwood rezoning

Judge had overturned Inwood rezoning late last year in a surprise decision

TRD New York /
Mar.March 05, 2020 05:40 PM
Charles Bendit and Jorge Madruga (Credit: Owen Hoffmann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Charles Bendit and Jorge Madruga (Credit: Owen Hoffmann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Developers who had major projects planned for Inwood are backing the city’s effort to appeal a shocking decision late last year that overturned the neighborhood’s rezoning.

Maddd Equities and Taconic Partners are filing an amicus brief with the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court supporting the city’s effort to reinstate the Inwood rezoning. New York Supreme Court Justice Verna Saunders had overturned the rezoning in December, ruling that the city had not done enough to consider its potential socioeconomic impact — an unusual reversal that surprised even those who had opposed the rezoning.

The city appealed the decision soon after, and real estate companies with plans for Inwood bemoaned the ruling as yet another attack on them — and one that would jeopardize their efforts to bring affordable housing to the neighborhood.

Taconic and Maddd — along with Con Edison and the Shermans Creek Development Corporation — have now formalized those concerns in a brief arguing that Saunders’ decision will “prevent further development of the housing, community benefits, community facilities, and commercial opportunities that the rezoning would enhance and encourage.”

“The annulment was misguided and, if upheld, will be detrimental to all future rezoning efforts across the city,” said a spokesman for Taconic. “Most critically, it will block the creation of new affordable housing in Inwood — and significantly impede affordable housing creation citywide.”

Taconic had planned to build a 700,000-square-foot mixed-use development at 410 207th Street with about 725 affordable housing units and 80,000 square feet of ground floor retail. Maddd and frequent partner Joy Construction had planned a 544,000-square-foot development at 3875 Ninth Avenue with about 615 affordable housing units and about 62,000 square feet of commercial space.

The companies describe these projects in the amicus brief as “efforts to transform historically underutilized areas of the Inwood community” that “can only be realized through the rezoning resolutions.”

The brief also attacks Saunders’ ruling as one that would reverse decades of standards surrounding the city’s environmental review process that agencies and developers have come to rely on, creating “unnecessary uncertainty.” Saunders determined that the city was obligated to analyze additional issues around the Inwood rezoning simply because groups opposing the rezoning had asked it to, according to the brief.

Eli Weiss of Joy Construction said he was confident about the prospects of getting the rezoning overturned on appeal.

“I don’t feel good that it’s come to this,” he said, “but I feel strongly in our legal argument, and I feel strongly that, at the end of the day, my motive and goal is to build affordable housing on this site.”

Charlie Bendit, co-CEO of Taconic, said the city was in dire need of more housing, but his company would not be able to build its residential project as planned without the Inwood rezoning. He said he was “very disappointed” by the judge’s ruling.

“If the city was to have to respond to every objection, then nothing would ever get passed, and there would be no new housing,” he said. “And maybe that’s what some people want: they want no new development. Well, then the city shuts down.”


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