New Riverfront Park Signals Growth in Manhattan’s Northernmost Neighborhood

By Catherine Yang, Epoch Times
January 20, 2014 Updated: January 20, 2014

NEW YORK—The population of Inwood in northern Manhattan keeps growing, along with interest in retail quickly rising. Muscota Marsh, a new riverfront park was opened to the public there last week.

Columbia University with the Parks Department build the park, which was designed by the High Line co-designer James Corner Field Operations. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held for the park in the spring. 

The park runs along the Harlem River near Columbia University’s Baker Field on a one-acre plot of land between West 218th Street and Indian Road. There are entrances on West 218th Street and from Inwood Hill Park.

Columbia aims to bring in new waterfront amenities with the park and increase educational and recreational activities for both the university and local communities. 

Features include a moss and fern covered wall on the southern edge of the park, designed to create a cooler microclimate during the summer; native wetland plants; and areas designed to target wildlife like marshes for wading birds, like the Great Blue Heron and Snowy Egret. The park will also offer kayak and canoe access.

The park’s construction had been delayed due to Hurricane Sandy, but was then extended to include Inwood Hill Park’s 196-acres along the waterfront, which also accommodates local residents.

In recent years, more people have been moving to Inwood Hill, as well as other Northern Manhattan neighborhoods. 

The number of people ridding to the A-line Dyckman Street subway stop in Inwood has increased 28 percent from 2007 to 2012 according to The Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

People moving into the area tend to be families looking for space to grow, as there are more two- and three-bedroom units in Inwood, and prices haven’t risen as much compared with the rest of Manhattan. According to the UJA-Federation’s 2011 Jewish Community Study of New York, the 18–39 age group in Washington Heights and Inwood is 40 percent, compared with 20 percent in the rest of Manhattan.

According to brokers interviewed by Crain’s, chain stores like Chipotle and Blink are showing interest in the area, which currently has more stores like Domino’s Pizza and one dollar stores. Larger banks have also started to set up branches there. 

The first Starbucks opened in Inwood late last year, which brokers say serves as a signal to other more affluent brands. 

Rents in the area have risen to over $100 per square foot, nearly a third from the last few years.

Over the past year, the number of bars in the neighborhood has also spiked. In the first half of 2013, 60 liquor, beer, and wine licenses were granted in the area, up 50 percent from 2008. Consequently, noise complaints rose to 20,000, almost by a third in the same time period.