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Inwood Library's redevelopment into affordable housing moves forward

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The city has released an RFP, but local residents seem skeptical

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Plans to redevelop Inwood’s library into affordable housing is moving forward. Last week, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, in partnership with the New York Public Library, released a request for proposals to redevelop the site at 4790 Broadway.

The city is looking for the new development to be 100 percent affordable, and come with a new library, and a universal pre-K facility (UPK).

The plan to transform the existing library was first announced in January this year, and in the intervening months, city officials say they have spent time interviewing local residents at community engagement sessions to get their feedback on the development.

“Listening to voices in the neighborhood is a crucial part of our planning process, and this feedback is reflected throughout the Inwood RFP,” Maria Torres-Springer, the Commissioner of HPD, said in a statement. “Through this project, we will be able to renew the Inwood public library, provide a brand new Universal Pre-Kindergarten facility, and create 100 percent affordable housing for New Yorkers.”

In June this year, DNAinfo reported that a group of local residents were concerned that the city would release an RFP for the project without presenting local residents with the final results from the community engagement sessions first.

“It would make clear that they don’t care about the community of Inwood, they just want to force their proposal on our community,” Karla Fisk, a member of Save Inwood Library, told DNAinfo at the time.

A spokesperson for HPD informed Curbed that the Community Visioning report was shared with the local community board prior to the release of the RFP. Fisk on her part informed Curbed that her group hadn’t seen this visioning report prior to the release of the RFP.

From the guidelines the city has provided so far, they’re looking for a new library with designated spaces for youth and adult education; additional space for computers; and a community room. This new library, which will be the same size as the current facility, is being made possible through capital contributions by the HPD, and a $5 million contribution by the Robin Hood Foundation.

As for the UPK facility, it will span 4,000 square feet, and have enough space for three classrooms, and serve 50 children. In addition, the developer will also be required to build a 1,350-square-foot outdoor recreational area for the kids.

As for the affordable housing, at least 10 percent will be set aside for formerly homeless people, and local residents gave a preference to create extremely low-income housing, and housing for seniors. Interested developers will have until November 20 this year to apply.