The Poor Door

If you don't see them, they don't exist: 

When it's completed, 40 Riverside will have 219 expensive, river-facing condos to sell to people who are in a position to buy them and 55 street-facing places to rent to sad sacks who earn 60 percent or less than the median income. "Because Extell considers the affordable segment to be legally separate from the rest of the building, it says it is required to have different entrances," Think Progress explains. Plus, it will spare all the residents from the terrible awkwardness of regularly encountering people whose lifestyles differ from theirs, or something.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are already a number of "mixed-income" buildings with so-called "poor doors" throughout New York City, though there might not be many more in the future. The New York Post reportsthat, following the outcry over 40 Riverside, "Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer vowed to reject future developments with separate entrances." Meanwhile, renters of these affordable apartments can make their second-class status feel a little more fun by pretending that they're living in an episode of Downton Abbey.


3 thoughts on “The Poor Door

  1. This doesn’t bother me. NYC requires developers to build a certain number of more affordable units in exchange for being allowed to build a certain number of high priced premium units. I think that’s a great idea. If they required a cash payment that the city would then use to build its own lower cost housing, that would work too. The down side of this latter idea is that the units would most likely be built in some more remote location with less access to good schools, subways and so on. That’s what the city could afford, and that’s what developers would prefer.
    By requiring the less outrageously priced units to be at the same location and even in the same building, the subsidized tenants would get the benefits of location, location, and location, which includes the aforementioned schools and subways, but also being in the same building with the same heating system, the same electrical system, the same internet hookup and so on. Even more important, they’d be on the same certificate of occupancy which is more valuable than gold to a developer.
    The less expensive units would lack some of the higher priced amenities. For example, they might lack doorman service which is a serious perk in NYC. (Hey, they’re unionized.) They’d lack access to the gym, rooftop pool, party spaces and so on. As far as I am concerned, a separate doorway makes sense. In exchange for being able to build the fancy building, developers are forced to build and operate a less fancy building, something in short supply in NYC, particularly in popular neighborhoods.
    Maybe I’ve read too much Hillel, but having two entrances seems to be the best way of handling this. Yes, there are two buildings side by side, one for the wealthier, one for those of more modest means, but save for the Aubusson carpets and more obsequious doormen, no one need know that some were subsidizing others, at least not without drudging through some obscure building department records. According to Hillel, invisible charity trumps visible charity big time, even if the charity is part of a development deal.

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