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Reports: Low-Income Tenants Will Have Separate Door At UWS Tower

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Multiple published reports this past week said a planned residential tower on the Upper West Side will include both luxury condos and affordable low-income rental units – but the two groups will be separated with their own entrances to the building.

The developer Extell has planned a 33-story tower at 40 Riverside Blvd. between West 61st and 62nd streets, with 219 condos and 55 affordable units, according to a New York Post report. The developer will secure millions of dollars in air rights and tax breaks by adding the affordable units, the newspaper reported.

But newspaper said the building will be set up so that the two groups never have to cross paths at all. The condos will look over the Hudson River waterfront, while the five stories of affordable housing will face away from the river and have a separate entryway, elevator and maintenance contractor, the newspaper reported.

"You know that show Downton Abbey? Where the servants have to come and go through separate entrances and bow their heads when they see a noble?" the West Side Rag said in an article about the building last week. "Well, there could soon be a version of Downton Abbey right here, on the Upper West Side!"

Speaking to the West Side Rag, state Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) denounced the project with its "poor door." She called it a "'separate but equal' arrangement that "has no place in the 21st century, let alone on the Upper West Side."

Rosenthal told the newspaper that a mandatory affordable housing plan is not a "license to segregate lower-income tenants from those who are well off."

Manhattan Community Board 7 Chairman Mark Diller took issue with the planned development last month in a letter to New York City Housing and Preservation Development, which has the power to deny the tax breaks. He asked the department to ensure that safeguards are in place for the low income tenants.

"We urge that HPD carefully consider appropriate safeguards to avoid a situation in which the Affordable Housing tenants are relegated to the status of second class citizens," he wrote.

Extell issued a statement to 1010 WINS Sunday evening in regard to the development.

"Many factors go into the design of a building including efficiency, cost and financibility, especially when the units are permanently affordable, which is the case here," Extell said. "The goal we will deliver on is filling a neighborhood need by adding high quality affordable residences in a beautiful neighborhood - residences we are confident will attract no shortage of applicants."

The developer also told the West Side Rag that the affordable units will be in a "building segment" that will be connected to the rest of the structure, but will be legally separate and must have its own entrance.

Some readers who left comments on the West Side Rag article also claimed that rental-condo hybrids typically have separate doors for renters and unit owners.

The low income units will go for $845 per month for a studio, $908 for a one-bedroom, and $1,099 for a two-bedroom, the Post reported. To qualify, households must have less than 60 percent of the city's area median income – meaning less than $36,120 for one person and less than $51,540 for a family of four, the newspaper reported.

Those who live in the condos will pay over $1,000 per square foot, the newspaper reported, adding that at another nearby Extell building, one-bedroom condos cost $1.3 million and a six-bedroom, eight-bath unit goes for $15.9 million.

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