Inwood Residents Killed a ‘Trojan Horse for Gentrification’ — Now What? | Village Voice

By Steven Wishnia

inwood protest - sherman plaza

A protester at a rally against the rezoning of 4650 Bradway earlier this month. (Photo: Steven Wishnia)

Some three hundred people packed the corner of Broadway and Sherman Avenue on Monday night, a steaming evening on the blocks where Broadway curves around the primeval stone wall of Fort Tryon Park and Washington Heights turns into Inwood. It was the eve of the City Council’s vote on a proposal to rezone the site at 4650 Broadway, now a two-story parking garage, to let a developer build a seventeen-story luxury building there in exchange for including some below-market-rate apartments. This crowd was loudly opposed.

City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez arrived about 6:45, entering a small U-shaped space inside police barricades to the accompaniment of an impromptu marching band — two drummers, two vuvuzelas, and the rhythmic metal scratch of a guira — and chants of Ydanis, comprende, Inwood no se vende. The councilman’s attempts to work out a deal for the site — letting the developer, Washington Square Partners and Acadia Realty Trust, build a bulkier building with about 350 apartments, on the condition that half be affordable, with 20 percent reserved for people with incomes of roughly $31,000 and another 30 percent at higher rents — had angered many in the community, who called the project a “Trojan horse for gentrification.”

Rodriguez had said that he would reveal how he would vote that evening, after the Northern Manhattan Is Not for Sale coalition announced plans to picket his district office. Speaking in Spanish and then English, he drew applause when he said he’d never voted for a rezoning in his seven years on the council, and boos when he praised Mayor Bill de Blasio for “the most progressive affordable-housing plan in modern history.” Finally, he gave his decision.

“We have not been able to get to a point where I feel it is in the community’s best interest to move this spot rezoning forward,” he said. “Therefore, I tell you that as of this moment I will not be supporting the
rezoning of Sherman and Broadway.” Applause burst out before he finished the sentence.

The next morning, the council’s zoning subcommittee and land-use committee both voted unanimously against the rezoning. Land Use Committee chair David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) said the city had been unable to reach a compromise with the developer on either the size of the proposed building or the rent levels.

Rodriguez indicated he’d decided to oppose the plan because “in this type of community,” it would create “pressure for landlords to increase rents.”

“This is why I voted for Ydanis, so he could listen to the people and vote against gentrification,” said local activist Estevan Nembhard.

“I feel like it’s a victory for us who helped educate the community. He felt the pressure. The community united. We’re thankful he listened to his constituents,” said Ana Rosario, a 31-year-old social worker.

Read more: Inwood Residents Killed a ‘Trojan Horse for Gentrification’ — Now What? | Village Voice

Related:

After Community Opposition, Councilman to Vote Against Inwood Rezoning | WNYC

Panning the Plaza plan | Manhattan Times

First Look: 4650 Broadway, 23-Story Apartment Building in Washington Heights | NY YIMBY

First project under city’s new housing policy prompts unease in community | Politico

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