The city has begun advertising the lottery for apartments in 40 Riverside Boulevard, the Upper West Side building that sparked our original story that coined the term “Poor Door.” The building on West 62nd street overlooking the Hudson River will have separate entrances and amenities for affordable-housing renters and market-rate condo owners.
In return for creating 55 affordable apartments, Extell Development will receive permission to add floor area beyond the amount allowed in zoning rules and get a 421-A tax abatement, benefits worth millions to the developers and the condo owners. Those tax breaks in particular have come under fire as critics say they often benefit the ultra-wealthy without producing much affordable housing. Local Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal is part of a group trying to end the tax benefit.
A rendering of the income-restricted entrance.
Oddly enough, 40 Riverside Boulevard now appears to be using three alternative addresses as well — the developers applied for tax breaks using 40 Riverside Boulevard, have marketed the luxury units as 50 Riverside Boulevard and as One Riverside Park (tagline “Look Out for Number One”), and have now added a fourth address: 470 West 62nd street. It’s all one building. Most of the apartments are already in contract, according to Streeteasy.
To qualify for the 55 apartments available through the lottery, applicants have to meet certain income thresholds — a family of four trying to get into one of the 30 two-bedrooms must make $38,880-$50,340, while a single person seeking a studio must make $30,240-$35,280. Rent for a studio is $833, for a one bedroom is $895, and for a two-bedroom is $1,082. Residents of Community Board 7, which encompasses the Upper West Side, are slated to receive 50% of the slots, Brick Underground notes. There’s more information on the income requirements here, and more on the application process can be found here. The application deadline is April 20.
Those who support the Poor Door note that people applying for affordable housing should be grateful for whatever they get — and having known some of those lucky people the answer is of course they are, look at the cheap rents they’re paying!
But whether recipients of tax breaks or subsidies are grateful is not really a public policy question (we certainly don’t ask it when condo owners at 15 CPW or when the New York Yankees receive tax breaks or subsidies). The larger question is what the city should require in return for tax breaks and zoning changes. This remains a heated debate: a recent poll found 78% of New Yorkers oppose the Poor Door. The Observer is okay with it, the Times generally approves (though its editorial included a strange non sequitur implying that poor doors are for buildings that house disabled and elderly people) and Gothamist wrote a biting critique of the Times.
Stephen Colbert, of course, had the funniest take.