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Include Fort Tryon East/South of Dyckman in Inwood NYC contextual R7A rezoning!

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Fort Tryon East Neighborhood Association is an organization representing the interests of the residents in the portion of Inwood south of Dyckman Street. We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with residents of this vibrant part of the neighborhood in demanding equal protection and accommodation for their community in the ongoing zoning considerations affecting Inwood.

We affirm the following:

— Any Inwood rezoning district must include the Fort Tryon East area. This includes the entire area bordered by Dyckman St. at the north and 193rd St. at the south, between Broadway/West Side Highway and Hillside Ave. We are part of Inwood too, and we demand inclusion in the protective zoning measures being considered for the rest of the neighborhood. There is no legitimate historical, geographical, or topographical reason to exclude the southern portion of what has been recognized as the unified neighborhood of Inwood since at least 1939, when it was described as such in the 1939 WPA Guide— doing so drives an unconscionable wedge through the heart of the community and turns residents living south of Dyckman into ‘second-class Inwoodites.’ 

— Our portion of the neighborhood was specifically identified as an area at high risk for disruptive development by Community Board 12 in its resolution supporting contextual zoning (October 2012, rev. July 2016), and was defined as the ‘target area’ from which contextual rezoning planning should start. (The recent ‘Sherman Plaza’ proposal is only one example of exploitative development projects that have been attempted in our area and why we so desperately need protection.) It makes no sense whatsoever and is profoundly unfair to leave out the most vulnerable part of the neighborhood from a contextual rezoning plan. Contextual zoning in Inwood means R7A, and the Fort Tryon East area should not be left out of this protection against exploitative development that is being guaranteed to our neighbors.

— The Fort Tryon East area is a hotspot for displacement and landlord abuse. Numerous buildings in the area were part of a successful class action lawsuit against abusive landlords and a number of buildings in the area have lost more than 50% of their rent stabilized units in the last ten years. The potential impact of heightened displacement of existing tenants and loss of rent-regulated units in this area is tremendous and cries out for the protection against the potential of a large influx of market-rate housing that only contextual zoning can provide.

— Local small businesses need protection from the forces of gentrification and retail warehousing that often accompany substantial new market-rate development. Many long-time local businesses are already struggling or have been forced out by the transformation of the Dyckman corridor into a nightlife destination, and the impact is spreading throughout the area. Local businesses can’t afford the further disruption that would accompany large-scale market-rate developments, and the community can’t afford to lose these necessary businesses.

— The strain on local infrastructure of large-scale new development is especially acute in the Fort Tryon East area. We have some of the oldest utility infrastructure in the city and the transit system in the area is already seriously over-burdened. The existence of numerous sites in the area with serious environmental problems due to historic industrial uses also presents a very real threat to the health and well-being of residents as a potential consequence of new development.  (This includes development ‘soft sites’ with serious environmental issues that are adjacent to schools and playgrounds, such as the intersection of Nagle/Broadway/Hillside/Bennet.)

To restate the obvious— there is no logical reason for excluding the Fort Tryon East area from the contextual rezoning region being considered for Inwood as part of the Inwood NYC plan.  All of the qualities which the city describes as compelling the R7A designation for the ‘Upland Core’ zone west of 10th Ave., including a ‘strong existing residential character,’ and ‘existing built character’ that is ‘strong and consistent,’ are shared by the Fort Tryon East area. If these qualities compel R7A zoning for areas north of Dyckman and along Thayer Street, they should do the same for the contiguous southern tip of the neighborhood, especially given the heightened threat of exploitative development for the area as plainly stated in Community Board 12’s resolution asking for a special focus on protective, contextual zoning for this area.

We are one community and we demand inclusion with the rest of our neighborhood in the protective, contextual R7A rezoning that we need to protect our community, prevent displacement, and guarantee the continued health of this remarkable haven for working class people, immigrants, families, and artists in Upper Manhattan!

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