NEW YORK — The developers of 40 Riverside Boulevard on New York’s Upper West Side have created a new luxury high-rise replete with a wealth of modern amenities, but with the retro feel of building practices from a time that predates the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
In an effort to cater to the wealthiest of New Yorkers as well as qualify for tax subsidies, the building will open up 55 of the 274 apartments to affordable housing candidates. However, those residents will have to enter through an alternate entrance tucked in an alley behind the building.
“We cater to an exclusive clientele,” said Jan Felsner, a spokesman for Extel, who built 40 Riverside. “In our other buildings we have in the area, our apartments go for as much as $1,000 per square foot. But we wanted to go for something unique here.”
By opening up the units to affordable housing rates, 40 Riverside can qualify for a 421a exemption, not only effectively reducing the property’s tax bill from over $22 million dollars to roughly $500,000, but also giving the wealthier denizens a chance to rub their privilege in the face of others in ways not previously thought of.
“Our competitors only offer their residents the satisfaction of making their servants use different entrances,” explained Felsner. “But where else can you walk down the street with your neighbor and then look down upon them as they slink off to the poor person’s door. That is the definition of luxury.”
When asked if he was worried that the practice of segregating the residents based on income would be deemed in violation of the Fair Housing Act, Felsner giggled and said, “Sure, because the past few months have taught us that Civil Rights legislation is just so sacrosanct.”
Georgina Cavendish, who just bought a three-bedroom apartment for her six-year-old daughter – “for when she finishes college” – thinks the entrance dynamic can be both exciting and informative. “It’ll be fascinating watching those people come and go, living whatever passes for their lives. Just like ‘Downton Abbey’. But you can’t get too close. I hear you can catch poor from them.”
At a press conference, Mayor Bloomberg said 40 Riverside is a testament to the city’s spirit of different rules for different groups, be they economic or racial. “Of course there’s supposed to be two New Yorks,” he explained. “That’s why they named it twice.”