Outrage Over Separate Doors for Rich and Poor in Manhattan High-Rise

A real estate development company looking to score million in tax breaks by building affordable units inside a luxury apartment complex has come under fire for its proposal to install two separate entrances — one for its rich tenants, the other for its poor.

In an effort to secure tax breaks and other building allowances as part of New York City's Inclusionary Housing Program, Extell Development Company has offered to set aside some 55 Affordable Housing units for low-income families inside the 274-unit luxury tower it is constructing in the Upper West Side.

The "catch" being that 40 Riverside Boulevard will feature two distinct entrances — one for affluent residents on the building's Hudson-river facing façade, and the other in a back alley for Affordable Housing tenants.

"This ‘separate but equal’ arrangement is abominable and has no place in the 21st century, let alone on the Upper West Side," Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D-UWS) told West Side Rag. "A mandatory affordable housing plan is not license to segregate lower-income tenants from those who are well-off. The developer must follow the spirit as well the letter of the law when building affordable housing, and this plan is clearly not what was intended by the community."

Extell, which says it is following zoning laws, begs to differ.

In a statement released to CBS New York, the company said it is working for the betterment of the community by "filling a neighborhood need by adding high quality affordable residences in a beautiful neighborhood."

Additionally, since it is designating the affordable units on floors two through six as a "separate entity," the Zoning Resolution requires that it have a separate entrance with its own elevator.

West Side Rag explains that, by segregating the low-income floors, Extell won't just be saving millions in tax dollars, it also stands to make as much as $100 million in floor space it couldn't previously build.

"By building affordable housing," the site writes, "a developer gets to add more floor area to a development beyond what the zoning code would normally allow."

The local Community Board members have sent a letter to the city departments responsible for overseeing the tax breaks Extell hopes to obtain asking them to "avoid a situation in which the Affordable Housing tenants are relegated to the status of second class citizens."

[images via Crain's, Extell]