New York City Approves Controversial 'Poor Door' In Luxury Condo

Extell riverside drive locationExtell Development CompanyExtell’s plan for its Riverside South project.

The New York Post reported yesterday that New York City has approved developer Extell’s plans to build a separate entrance for its affordable-housing tenants at an Upper West Side condo.

Dubbed the “poor door,” the controversial approval was a blow to New Yorkers who believe the separate entrance to be classist and distasteful.

The 33-story luxury condo on 40 Riverside Drive will have 55 low-income units and 219 market-rate condominiums facing the Hudson River, according to The Post. The low-income units will be located on floors two through six with a studio going for $US845 a month, a one-bedroom for $US908, and two-bedrooms for $US1,099.

Market-rate buyers, on the other hand, would be paying more than $US1,000 per square foot. The building will be part of Extell’s planned Riverside South dev elopement, which will stretch from 72nd to 59th Streets.

The building is a part of New York City’s “inclusionary zoning” strategy for providing affordable housing to low-income families, itself a controversial program that gives developers more floor area and large tax breaks in exchange for building on- or off-site affordable housing.

40 riverside condo1WNYW/ScreenshotA mock up of Extell’s 40 Riverside Drive entrance.

The “poor door” is not the only one of its kind in the city. A few other large development projects also have separate entrances for renters and owners, and it’s not uncommon for mixed-income buildings to provide amenities for the building’s market-rate owners that they don’t provide for middle-income or low-income residents.

And not everyone agrees that the “poor door” is the main problem. Josh Barro, Business Insider’s former politics editor, made the argument last year that if New York City fully taxed these market rate apartments instead of giving developers tax breaks for building affordable housing on-site (it’s estimated the property tax abatements have lost NYC $US2.9 billion in revenue), they could use that money to spend on building more affordable housing.

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