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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Manhattan High-Rise Will Have a Separate Entrance for Poor People

Posted by on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 12:33 PM

From NPR News, an outrageous story about affordable housing in New York City:

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration is under fire for signing off on a building plan that allows a new luxury high-rise on Manhattan's western edge to have a separate entrance for low-income residents.

About 20 percent of the units in the 33-story tower will be reserved for low- and middle-income residents. But all the affordable units will be grouped in one area, and those tenants will have to enter through a separate door.

People have dubbed it the "poor door." The developer, Extell Development, got tax breaks for including affordable housing in their building. And Extell's CEO, Gary "Deep Down I Am a Horrible Person" Barnett, tells NPR that the "thousands of people" who are applying to live in the lower-rent units "don't give a damn" about being asked to sneak in the back entrance so their poor shame doesn't stink up the nice 33-story elevators, because they're just so grateful to have a decently priced apartment.

Dear Rich People: This is just one of many reasons that you are a lot more disgusting than the poors you fear. A lot. Just reading about people this awful makes me want to take a brain shower. YOU SMELL, RICH PEOPLE, YOU SMELL.


Comments (43) RSS

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nicholaus 1
Wow, just wow... "Extell's president, Gary Barnett, said the zoning law is aimed at creating more affordable housing. In this building, he said, the affordable units will rent for about $15 a square foot, whereas market-rate units will fetch five or six times that."

In my building the smallest apartment is a studio for 368 sq ft. So the affordable monthly rent for this apartment would be $5,520 a month. Let's just estimate high and go with the largest apartment, an 892 sq ft. 2 bedroom. That would be $13,380 a month.

That has to be some kind of typo.
Posted by nicholaus on July 30, 2014 at 12:48 PM · Report this
This is apparently a big problem already in London:…
Posted by JenV on July 30, 2014 at 12:50 PM · Report this
Seems reasonable to me.
Posted by jeffy on July 30, 2014 at 12:51 PM · Report this
It's a shell game anyhow. market-rate apartment construction does more for affordable housing than low-income provisions could ever do.
Posted by fetish on July 30, 2014 at 12:58 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 6
Well, at least the poor will know which doorway they should shit in.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on July 30, 2014 at 1:14 PM · Report this
Yeah, this is illegal per the tax credit program so the IRS'll get 'em.
Posted by Foonken2 on July 30, 2014 at 1:15 PM · Report this

Problem? The amenities provided are paid for by those paying market rates. Hell, the subsidized cost for affordable housing is paid for by the up market tenant as well. In the UK the well off pay for food, housing, medical and child care and education for the thrift less and lazy. They must also pay for a nice lobby and concierge as well?

Why should something paid for by one person be accessible to another on an insane pretext of fairness?

Which is what this is. Simple fairness, not disdain or fear of and for poor people.
Posted by Seattleblues on July 30, 2014 at 1:17 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 9
So what? All we'll do is bitch on line and that's the end of it. Nothing to see here...move on and vote for the next corporatist politician.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on July 30, 2014 at 1:19 PM · Report this
Who cares? nobody is forcing anyone to live there.
Posted by Chali2Na on July 30, 2014 at 1:20 PM · Report this
Saw this on Colbert last night....

He seemed to mock the idea that the "lower-income" apartments are for the poor because:
-the expensive apartment costs ~$15,000,000
-the "low-income" one costs ~$10,000,000

Yeah, this still sucks, but it isn't like the wealthiest are shitting on poor single mothers or even moderately well off families... the wealthiest are just shitting on the slightly less wealthy.

The only reason this is news is because the story keeps getting framed as the elite shaming the average joe-- which is not the case.
Posted by nearng24 on July 30, 2014 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 12
SB fails to address why the poor should be forced to use a separate entrance.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 30, 2014 at 1:25 PM · Report this
It's probably $15/ sq. foot per YEAR or $1.25 square foot per MONTH.

Posted by caution&daring on July 30, 2014 at 1:26 PM · Report this
Sorry, I got my numbers wrong. Just watched the bit again-

It's $25 million for the premium units and
$15 million for the "affordable" units

The Colbert Report July 28: The Word- See No Evil
Posted by nearng24 on July 30, 2014 at 1:31 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 15
in seattle, you can use the low-income credits to increase height and sell/give them to non-profits to create low-income housing in an entirely different building. in a different neighborhood.

i'm not really going to get uptight about this.
Posted by Max Solomon on July 30, 2014 at 1:32 PM · Report this
sincarnato 16
Personally I'd be happy to use a separate entrance if it meant a cheaper apartment. Let those that are paying premium prices have the premium amenities they're paying for. As someone who's worked in low income apartment housing before, I can say that a tenant paying the normal market rate price is probably not going to want to have to deal with the plethora of problems that come with low income housing - drugs, crime, and etc.
Posted by sincarnato on July 30, 2014 at 1:33 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 17
@ 13, doubtful. That would be $460/mo on the low end and $1,115/mo for the high end. It has been decades since Manhatten saw such rents.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 30, 2014 at 1:33 PM · Report this

368 SF x $1.25 SF/Month = $460/Mo
"Market rate" (5 times "affordable")
368 SF x $6.25 SF/Month = $2300/Mo

Posted by caution&daring on July 30, 2014 at 1:40 PM · Report this
@14 I just re-watched the segment as well and he was just talking about 2 different regular units in the building. (the joke is that someone buying a $25 million apartment would not want to ride in an elevator with someone that can "only" afford $15 million) The poor door is for people in the subsidized units, which:

@17 Those prices seem about right for subsidized housing units in luxury apartment buildings.
Posted by lovett1979 on July 30, 2014 at 1:43 PM · Report this
My bad! I've got screaming toddlers here- I guess I missed that.

This whole argument seems silly to me though. My car has this problem where the brakes clamp on suddenly while driving at highway speeds. It's had this problem (along with no stereo, no AC, 2 windows don't go down, no internal door handles) for over a year. My rent is $750/ month, and if I only had to pay $650 but had to wear a shirt everywhere that says "I'm poor", or drive only on "low-income" streets, or god forbid use a different door to get into my apartment, I would willingly do so.

I recognize that it's wrong to shame people that have less money, but I don't think that's what's going on here.
Posted by nearng24 on July 30, 2014 at 2:02 PM · Report this
Fred Casely 21
My last apartment was right next door to this development and I watched it going up early on. The "rich door" will be on Riverside Boulevard and more or less a continuation of the glitzy riverview highrises of Trump Place. The "poor door" will face Amsterdam Houses, which is a large '40s-era mid-rise public housing project with mostly African-American residents.

I have mixed feelings about this. I think affordable housing should be created in a way that doesn't stigmatize those living in it. In the context of this particular project, though, what they're doing makes sense -- even if they're doing a lousy job of not sounding like assholes when articulating it.

If the entrances were right next to each other and actually labeled "rich" and "poor", that would be one thing. But they're going to be on opposite sides of a building that covers an entire city block.

Do most middle- and lower-income people want to live in a place with a parking valet and a top-hatted doorman? I know I don't.
Posted by Fred Casely on July 30, 2014 at 2:15 PM · Report this
Yes, let's pretend that huge and obvious portions of NY aren't only accessible to those with a net worth in the 8 figure range by... making them use the same door! Wow, that'll totally fix this notion that we live in a capitalist culture with vastly different levels of wealth. Problem solved.

Posted by nothingtosay on July 30, 2014 at 2:21 PM · Report this
Thank you for talking facts and commonsense.

Posted by caution&daring on July 30, 2014 at 2:23 PM · Report this
raindrop 25
Complain, complain, complain. It's two complexes in one. One is more expensive.
This is like coach passengers complaining that they can't ride first class.
Posted by raindrop on July 30, 2014 at 2:29 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 26
Because low income housing does not support (nor should it be expected to include) such frivolities as 24 hour doormen, 24 hour concierge service and the massive expensively decorated lobbies expected (and priced into) high end rent properties. I’m guessing there are other services priced into the “expensive” units that don’t come with the “cheap” ones such as on-site gyms, business centers, common rooms and wine storage.

It’s a lot more practical (and graceful) to utilize separate, differently equipped, entrance facilities designed to accommodate the amenities associated with specific types of housing than to make the doorman memorize who he is paid to open the door for and who has not paid for that luxury.

This is nothing new… The tower suites at the Waldorf Astoria have had their own entrance, elevators, common areas and support staff (not shared with the hotel’s other “lower end” guests) for years. Eleanor Roosevelt never complained about the arrangement.
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on July 30, 2014 at 2:31 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 27
If you want a marble-lined front entrance with concierge service and nice, large elevators, then you're going to have to shell out for it. I fail to see the problem here.
Posted by keshmeshi on July 30, 2014 at 2:33 PM · Report this
psbirch 28
I'm with @25 on this one. When I get on a train with a Coach class ticket I use the coach cars which have coach tickets.

I'd much rather Vulcan build a few hundred units with a less-than-hipster portico around the side than to not build any at all.
Posted by psbirch on July 30, 2014 at 2:56 PM · Report this
Post_Mortem 29
If those paying lower rent (in order to get the developers tax credits and such) do not deserve things because they are not paying market value for them, the logical coclusion is they do not deserve an apartment in a nice building in Manhattan. The principal set forth to justify segregating the poorer folks from the rich leads to absurd conclusions that would invalidate the project altogether.

Desegregating the units would not just solve this, it wpuld have clear benefits for those in affordable units without any clear injury to the rich.
Posted by Post_Mortem on July 30, 2014 at 3:28 PM · Report this
Yet another first world problem.
Posted by MikeB on July 30, 2014 at 3:48 PM · Report this
While this sounds absolutely terrible when presented as a "separate entrance," if you look at it as an entirely separate building, at least in the context of NYC housing, it's fairly tolerable.

I not only live in a coop building that abuts a non-luxury rental complex, but our building is internally two buildings, siamese twinned around a common courtyard, with two separate entrances. This is not some new-fangled idea, either. Ours was built in 1916. Of course, neither of our attached-twin buildings is luxury housing, quite the opposite, just 4-story walkups built for working folks way back when which have grown immensely in value.

On many blocks in New York City, you'll find a mix of housing, old and new, low-rise and high-rise. And so many buildings abut other buildings with no daylight in between. So, to have two buildings in one... on the face of it is not so unusual when taken in context.

And, as almost no one is building affordable housing, an opportunity to get apartments that rent for $15 per square foot PER YEAR, in our most expensive Borough, is nothing to get terribly nit-picky over.

Of course, a better approach might be for the City to get back into building housing developments for working people again, but maybe use what we've learned over the decades to make them more successful.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on July 30, 2014 at 3:52 PM · Report this

Let me guess: your Italian villa has a back door "service entrance", so the paid staff won't be seen walking in the front door like they own the place, doesn't it?
Posted by COMTE on July 30, 2014 at 4:10 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 33

No, they don't deserve an apartment in a nice building in Manhattan; they deserve adequate, affordable housing near where they work.

The poor are segregated from the rich in just about every way imaginable, but in this instance they are still getting a vital amenity. Cry me a river that they're not getting luxury housing as part of the deal.
Posted by keshmeshi on July 30, 2014 at 4:37 PM · Report this
@29 but either way they're getting an apartment, which is what the deal was for - not luxury amenities of the type people pay 5 figures a month for. The doorman/entrance is one of those luxury features, hardly a necessity. On top of that, a fancy lobby with servants is something that most people paying market rents in NY don't get - look at all those 6 floor walk-ups in Hells Kitchen for example. People pay $3K+ mo for a small, old, non-rent controlled apartment and have to suffer the gross indignity of unlocking and opening their own door and walking up 6 flights of stairs! The horror that they should have to do this in proximity of people of greater means!

But if you've been to NY, you know that's exactly how millions of people live and somehow life goes on. If someone else wants to pay 10 grand a month to have the door held for them, then they have that option. Most people manage to get through the days without wallowing in self pity at the thought of turning their own key.
Posted by nothingtosay on July 30, 2014 at 5:52 PM · Report this
Fnarf 35
I too was super outraged by this story when I read it in several other media outlets two weeks ago.
Posted by Fnarf on July 30, 2014 at 7:58 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 36
You_gotta dear, there is an entrance to the Waldorf Towers from the lobby. I know because I've stayed there!!!! (Yes, that is a brag. I stayed in Cole Porter's old suite for a few days back in the late 70's. It's not often I get to mention it, so I have to seize every opportunity.)

This separate entrance business is, of course, boorish and rather douchey, but it is not new. Lots of building in cities like Chicago and New York were designed like that back in the 1880's-1920's.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on July 30, 2014 at 8:57 PM · Report this
And now?
Still furious, seething, about the injustice of subsidized tenants not having a doorman etc etc?
Posted by caution&daring on July 30, 2014 at 9:23 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 38
Recheck your math, caution dear. $13,380 divided by 12 equals $1,115, and as I said, that hasn't been market rate in Manhatten for 25 years.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 30, 2014 at 9:27 PM · Report this
Post_Mortem 39
@33, 34 Beyond disdain for poorer folk, the justification for this system leads to conclusions which do not allow for the system. This reductio ad absurdum is not addressed by pretending it is a cry for doormen for the poor.

My argument as given is not concerned with potential harm, claims of discrimination, what is socially just, or what specifically is right or wrong with the building as designed, but with the defense of that design as set forth here. Without said defense (which is itself poor), there does not appear to be a good reason to deny inhabitants use of either door (other than the mere fact of the design, which is probably not self-justified).

Without a viable and coherent reason to maintain a back-door for the poor, questions of PR, politics, government rules about discrimination, and possible lawsuits take on greater weight, however much that may be.

Effectively, the building's developers or management (and apparently, somehow, the mayor of New York*) have to weigh these potential costs against the actual costs of a redesign/remodel and potential cost in terms of PR with rich potential owners or renters. While their decisions will no doubt impact the building and its owners, I don't think they will actually harm the apartments' inhabitants in either case.

*Could someone explain that to me? That is, what kind of pressure do those pushing the Deblasio see him being able to exert, and how?
Posted by Post_Mortem on July 30, 2014 at 11:49 PM · Report this
Hey asshole.
Where do you get $13,380?
Show your work.
Posted by caution&daring on July 31, 2014 at 6:31 AM · Report this
Asparagus! 42
I live in NYC and make about 40,000 a year. There is absolutely no way that I could afford to live in one of the "affordable" units.

The only way that I can afford to live here at all is that I lucked into a rent stabilized apartment in a "cheap" neighbourhood. And even that is about to expire, because the rent stabilization board (Bloombërg cronies) hasn't upped the stabilization limit in almost 10 years.

I won't be sad to leave this hellhole, but I'm lucky enough to have the economic means to be able to leave the city, so many people here aren't so lucky.
Posted by Asparagus! on July 31, 2014 at 9:34 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 43
Anyone know who caution is addressing? The poor dear forgot to use proper names.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 31, 2014 at 10:18 AM · Report this
Do they get separate 'poor' water fountains too?
Posted by rshoff on July 31, 2014 at 10:29 AM · Report this
Hey @43
You know exactly who I was talking to and you know that you can't do basic arithmetic.
You know it. I know it.
So you don't have to say anything more.
Posted by caution&daring on July 31, 2014 at 3:28 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 46
Lololol... Go all the way back to comment number obe dearie.

Read it yet? Good. Apology accepted.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 31, 2014 at 4:47 PM · Report this

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