The City of New York has approved a proposal from high-end firm Extell Development to build a luxury building with two entrances.
Street view of One Riverside Park, Extell.
Located on Riverside Blvd., on the Upper West Side, the building’s main entrance will be off the boulevard, and will lead to its 219 luxury condominium units. The second door will be located off the back alleyway, and will lead to an additional 50 affordable housing rental units – the ‘poor door’.
Digital illustration of One Riverside Park’s main entrance. There are no illustrations or mentions of the second entrance to the building on Extell’s website.
Though the practice is becoming quite common in expensive cities such as London, this is a first for this side of the pond and understandably, people are jumping to outrage. Plenty of Manhattan residents cited classism, likening the affordable housing entryway to segregated servants’ doors in the Edwardian era. But the story is now at least a few weeks old, and the issues emerges as not exactly a black-and-white one.
Under the Inclusionary Housing Program (IHP), Extell is allowed to build more square footage than they would normally be permitted (as well as receive additional grants and tax cuts), if they designate a percentage of their units as affordable housing (the program is similar in the UK).
While the incentive for Extell is two-fold — more money from more units dolf and more development money from tax breaks — some Manhattan residents have come to the proposal’s defense, saying that bringing more affordable housing to Manhattan can only be a positive thing, and that without such developments and the IHP, many lower income households would never be able to live in new apartments, in more affluent areas. “The goal we will deliver on is filling a neighborhood need by adding high quality affordable residences in a beautiful neighborhood – residences we are confident will attract no shortage of applicants” goes the official statement from Extell.
Digital illustration of luxury lobby at One Riverside Park, Extell.
Furthermore, separate entrances means residents of the affordable housing units will be saved the cost of higher maintenance fees that apply to the luxury side.
Still, a third wave of opinions hit the presses as development is officially underway, with criticism based more in social policy and less in emotional reactions. The concern boils down to the dangers of outsourcing the creation of affordable housing to private interests: the units may be nicer, but fewer, turning access to them into a lottery, and not addressing the shortage problem.
As a result of the tenacious controversy, NYC mayor Bill de Blasio is looking into changing the program.
What’s your take on the so called ‘poor door’? Should people paying more for their condo have a nicer lobby? Is the seemingly regressive nature of the two-door trend worth the affordable housing it brings to an expensive city? Or is this simply going too far? Share on Facebook to start the conversation!