Mayor Bill de Blasio's inclusionary zoning plan is intended to spur thousands of units of affordable housing. But the first private developer that wants to use it, is seeing a lot of resistance from the northern Manhattan community where he is trying to build. And on the eve of a decision in the City Council, one key lawmaker came face to face with his constituents. Our Courtney Gross has more.
It's a relatively rundown looking building, much more likely to draw interest from passing drivers looking for a spot than from Inwood residents.
Developers hope to change that. They want to morph it into a large apartment building with retail on the ground floor. They promise to add affordable housing.
It would be the first building to utilize the mayor's new affordable housing program, mandatory inclusionary zoning, which was just approved by the city council five months ago. The program was designed to spur the development of affordable housing.
The Councilman from Inwood voted for it.
But now Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez might reject the program's so-called benefits in his own district.
"You will listen and if anyone interrupts and I will stop what I am going to say and release my position Monday morning," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez held a rather unusual press conference Monday evening solely to explain how he would not vote for the project. The vote was scheduled for Tuesday morning.
"At this moment, I will not be supporting the rezoning," the councilman said to uproarious cheers.
We are told he wanted more guaranteed affordable housing in the project. Sources tell us at one point on Monday there was an agreement that the project would be 50 percent affordable housing.
What is clear is some in the community have been staunchly against it for months.
They say the building will be too tall or it will change the neighborhood.
"We know from other neighborhoods like Williamsburg that when luxury highrises start being built it makes the entire community more expensive," said Samuel Biagetti, with Northern Manhattan is Not for Sale. It raises rents. It raises prices."
Typically, the entire City Council defers to the local member when it comes to these local development decisions. So, it really is Rodriguez's decision.
Interestingly, if the council does not approve the project, the developer can go ahead and build something there under the existing zoning. Whatever that project will be will not be required to have affordable housing.
And that existing zoning will allow for it to be even taller.