Over the weekend, New York City, defying those who think such a move is insulting to the poor, approved a move by the developer Extell to build a separate entrance at an Upper West Side condominium for its affordable housing tenants.
Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat, had been furious about the possibility that such an arrangement would win approval. She told the West Side Rag:
This “separate but equal” arrangement is abominable and has no place in the 21st century, let alone on the Upper West Side. A mandatory affordable housing plan is not license to segregate lower-income tenants from those who are well-off. The developer must follow the spirit as well [as] the letter of the law when building affordable housing, and this plan is clearly not what was intended by the community.
Ironically, the district in which this is located voted heavily for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, giving him 76% of the vote in 2008 and 74% in 2012.
The New York Post reported that the new entrance has been nicknamed the “poor door,” and it will be part of the 33-story luxury condo at 40 Riverside Drive, with 55 low-income units and 219 market-rate condominiums facing the Hudson River.
From the second to the sixth floors, prices will range from studios at $845 a month, one-bedrooms for $908, and two-bedrooms for $1,099. Those not qualifying for the affordable housing will have to pay over $1,000 per square foot.
The condo is part of the city’s “inclusionary zoning strategy,” which is meant to encourage developers to build affordable housing for low-income families in return for tax breaks.
Extell’s arrangement is not unique; some other large development projects in New York have separate entrances for renters and owners.