Despite community outrage and even the mayor’s pledge to end “poor door” practices in NYC, the unequal living conditions at the mixed lower-income/luxury building at Extell Development’s 50 Riverside Boulevard are alarmingly obvious, according to some residents. As recently reported by The NY Post and 6sqft, the disparities between the luxury side of the building and the affordable housing section continue well beyond the doors.
The controversy surrounding poor doors came to a head in 2014 when the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development approved a controversial request by the Extell Development Company to install two separate entrances at its 50 Riverside Boulevard building. One door would be for its market rate residents and the other one (which has a different address of 40 Riverside Boulevard) would be for the affordable housing tenants.
Now, the lower income tenants living at the 40 Riverside Boulevard building are reporting that the disparity between the two categories of residents doesn’t stop at the two entrances, and that there are glaring signs of unequal living conditions throughout the building.
The swanky 219 luxury condominiums in the building start at $1.3 million and include seven-bedroom duplexes with private pools. Tenants living in these units have access to two gyms, a pool, a movie theater, a bowling alley and a swanky doorman-attended lobby.
Alternatively, the tenants who are living in the affordable housing units, which start at $833 for a studio, must access the building through a side entrance, and are also not able to take advantage of the building’s basic amenities. These residents have no doorman, and the intercom system reportedly does not work. Inside the units, there are no light fixtures in bedrooms and living rooms and some apartments lack dishwashers.
When the poor door controversy erupted in 2014, it became obvious that some developers building mixed luxury/affordable housing projects were using the practice in order to be eligible for the city’s Inclusionary Housing Program, which offers millions in tax savings and additional development rights. Under the tax exemption program, developers were encouraged to incorporate low-income housing units into more upscale buildings. However, due to a loophole in the program, the mixed-income buildings could include barriers between the two living sections and separate entrances.
However, soon after the heated debate about the shameful practice, Mayor de Blasio altered the tax abatement, effectively banning the practice of building separate entrances for residents of the same building or regulating low-income tenants to a separate side of the building. The bill now states that “Affordable units shall share the same common entrances and common areas as market rate units.’’
Unfortunately, if what the building’s lower-income residents are reporting, 40 Riverside Boulevard was able to slip through the cracks.
Images via Extell Development