The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

'Poor Door' Building's Affordable Units to Be Luxury-Class, Developer Says

By Emily Frost | October 16, 2014 2:50pm
 The developers went to great lengths to convince Community Board 7 the development would have a luxurious feel within the affordable units. 
1 West End Avenue
View Full Caption

UPPER WEST SIDE — The developers of a West End Avenue building that came under fire for creating a separate entrance, or "poor door," for affordable housing tenants to use touted the amenity-packed offerings for lower-paying tenants in a bid to get support from the local community board this week.

While One West End Ave. and 10 Freedom Place will reserve certain amenities, like their pool, for the 247 market-rate market-rate condo tenants only, there will be plenty of amenities for the tenants of the 116 affordable housing rental units, executives from Silverstein Properties, co-developer of the building along with El Ad Properties, told Community Board 7 Wednesday night.

"The caliber of design has never been done with affordable housing. It’s world-class design," said Janno Lieber, a development executive with Silverstein Properties, who explained that the building's pool, on the first story of the glass tower, was too small to offer access to the affordable renters as well."We’re trying to do something that’s meaningful."

Reps for the developer emphasized that no expense was spared in creating the affordable units, which sit in a seven-story stone base at the address, with a 41-story glass tower featuring multimillion-dollar condos rising above it.

"There’s no cheaping out on materials. There’s no sense that you’re in other than a world-class building," Lieber told those present.

In addition to stainless-steel appliances and walk-in closets, the affordable units will also be roomy, with 1,100-square-foot two-bedroom apartments and 900-square-foot one-bedrooms, Lieber explained.

"We all know in New York apartments, that’s quite generous," he said.

In their presentation, the developers sought to persuade the board they had gone above and beyond what was required in creating affordable units on par with other luxury buildings in the neighborhood.

The building's affordable apartments will rent for between $800 and $1,400 per month, and cost $800,000 to $900,000 to build, Lieber said. He declined to comment when asked about the cost to construct the market-rate units.

He said that affordable tenants and market-rate owners will each have their own gym, play space and free storage.

And while affordable tenants won't get access to the pool, Lieber said the 12,000-square-foot roof deck will be open to both market-rate owners and affordable tenants — following demand from elected officials to do so. It includes chaise lounges, barbecue pits and cabanas, he said. A portion of the roof deck can be rented for private events, and the fee is the same for both groups of residents. The barbecue pits are also reservable for free, Lieber said.

However, board member Brian Jenks worried the roof deck would become the domain of the market-rate owners, who could afford to reserve it more regularly. They will also have greater ease making barbecue pit reservations through their doorman, he added, as the affordable units do not have a doorman. 

"Without that reservation right, [the shared space is] a fallacy," Jenks said.

Lieber agreed to ensure a system was put in place whereby the affordable residents could easily make reservations. He could not say how much reservations for private parties would cost. 

A 3,000-square-foot courtyard accessible only through the affordable housing section will also be shared, with plans for interactive programming proposed, said Lieber, without offering any specifics.

"We’ve created one community socially... it gives a lie to the 'poor door,'" he said.

The new building is allowed to have separate entrances in the wake of zoning code regulations passed in 2009 that allowed developers to place affordable units in an attached section of a building, according to Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who was present at Wednesday's meeting.

In 2010, when CB7 and the City Council initially approved the Riverside Center development, the community board and elected officials did not anticipate it would lead to the developer creating the seperate entrances for market-rate and affordable tenants, she said.

Elected officials, who've decried the two-door policy, have said that while they couldn't change it in this case, they're lobbying Department of Housing and Preservation to make sure the zoning rules are changed. 

"I am disappointed that due to the zoning loophole that this project became segregated, but we’re glad that through conversations we were able to make the project more integrated," said Brewer in a statement. 

Rosenthal agreed, noting that the agreement to do shared programming represented a step forward.

"They have come along in the shared space from when we talked previously," she said.

CB7 members are awaiting a copy of the building's annual budget before submitting comments on the plan to the HPD, said board member Page Cowley.

The board has until Oct. 24 to submit comments on the affordable housing proposal to HPD.