Rickey Rogers/Reuters

A controversial building has seen an extraordinary number of applicants for just 55 available affordable units.

The New York Times reported Monday that more than 88,000 people had applied for 55 modestly priced apartments inside a luxury residential building on the waterfront of Manhattan's Upper West Side. From the Times:

“I guess people like it,” said Gary Barnett, founder and president of Extell Development Company, the tower’s developer. “It shows that there’s a tremendous demand for high-quality affordable housing in beautiful neighborhoods.”

Talk about an understatement. But there's a catch. Last July, CityLab's Sarah Goodyear wrote about the objections of affordable housing advocates to a so-called “poor door,” or separate entrance, approved for the affordable portion of this building. The New York Post cried “Class Doorfare.”

These sorts of separate entrances are actually mandated by "inclusionary housing" zoning rules that have been in place for years, as the Times reports: "[I]f the developer chooses to attach the affordable segment to the market-rate portion of the project, it is required to provide separate entrances." This zoning law also allows developers—as in this case—to build larger than they would otherwise be permitted to.

Developers like Extell support the current zoning rules for that reason. And some housing advocates do as well, since it does result in more affordable housing—even if "poor door" residents won't be able to use the building's pool, gym, bowling alley, or private theater. The two doors even give the building two separate addresses: 50 Riverside Boulevard for the high-end units and 470 West 62nd Street for the lower-income rental units.

Households with incomes of $30,240 to $50,340 qualify for the reduced-rent units, which list for $1,082 for a two-bedroom, $895 for a one-bedroom, and $833 for a studio apartment.

Goodyear notes in her piece that affordable housing deals made by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration "resulted in exactly this kind of income segregation, with less wealthy residents being pushed not just to the 'poor door,' but to the geographical margins of the city." Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, promised to improve such policies and create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing.

Creating separate and unequal "inclusionary housing" is one way to create affordable units that New Yorkers clearly want—and to please developers. But it certainly doesn't help improve the perception of a giant gap between the haves and have-nots.

Top Image: Rickey Rogers/Reuters

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Illustration: two roommates share a couch with a Covid-19 virus.
    Coronavirus

    For Roommates Under Coronavirus Lockdown, There Are a Lot of New Rules

    Renters in apartments and houses share more than just germs with their roommates: Life under coronavirus lockdown means negotiating new social rules.

  2. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

  3. Equity

    We'll Need To Reopen Our Cities. But Not Without Making Changes First.

    We must prepare for a protracted battle with coronavirus. But there are changes we can make now to prepare locked-down cities for what’s next.

  4. photo: A lone tourist in Barcelona, one of several global cities that have seen a massive crash in Airbnb bookings.
    Coronavirus

    Can Airbnb Survive Coronavirus?

    The short-term rental market is reeling from the coronavirus-driven tourism collapse. Can the industry’s dominant player stage a comeback after lockdowns lift?

  5. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

×