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De Blasio frustrated with City Council’s Inwood rezoning rejection

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Similar rezoning battles are brewing in other neighborhoods

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was puzzled and disappointed by the City Council’s recent decision to reject a rezoning proposal in Inwood that would have allowed for a larger building at the intersection of Broadway and Sherman Avenue, Crain’s reported.

"If people are frustrated by gentrification and development, and then turn down an opportunity to create affordable housing, brand-new affordable housing, that does not make sense," de Blasio told Crain’s. "And now the developer gets to do whatever he wants."

For developers Washington Square Partners and Acadia Realty Trust, they can now build a 14-story building as of right at 4650 Broadway and are not required to provide any affordable housing.

This development would have been the first real test of the mayor’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy. The developers were hoping to build a 17-story structure with 355 apartments. Half of them would have been affordable, and it appeared at first that developers and the city were confident that this project would move forward.

Things took a different turn on Tuesday however. Local residents had been complaining for months since the project was announced that the building’s affordable units weren’t affordable enough, and that the luxury apartments along with the affordable units would likely escalate neighborhood rents and displace existing residents. Local City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez voiced those reservations and concerns at the City Council hearing on the development on Tuesday. And as is usually the tradition (for land use matters), the other members sided with Rodriguez and voted to reject the project 45-0.

The decision this week may be an indicator of what’s to come in other neighborhoods in the city with similar rezoning-related projects. While the City Council backed the mayor’s MIH and ZQA proposals, many say it wasn’t a blanket approval of all projects that require rezoning. The Wall Street Journal examined the troubles the de Blasio administration is facing in various neighborhoods with similar projects on the table, most notably in Sunnyside, Queens, where City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer is opposing a parking-lot replacing affordable housing project.