New York Post

Times are tough for developers of luxury housing towers, with killjoys on city councils and planning commissions saying they can't get massive tax breaks for building concrete-and-glass citadels for the wealthy without including some symbolic "affordable housing." But who wants to pay three times as much for stainless appliances and rainfall showers only to take the elevator with coupon-clippers?

Faced with the prospect of well-heeled residents rubbing elbows with the great unwashed, posh pad purveyors have found some creative ways to let poors into the castle while constantly reminding them where they stand. Not sure your "affordable" residents have gotten the message from their lower-level apartments with inferior views? Build them their very own poor door so they have to enter through the alley! Also, you can make them listen to their better-off neighbors having fun in the pool they're not allowed to use.

And if they're in danger of enjoying the same amount of outdoor space as the rich people 10 stories above them, better put up a fence to remind them they don't really deserve it.

Erin McFadzen chose her middle-income — and rent-stabilized — corner apartment at Long Island City’s new Q41 building because of its wrap-around terrace.

But when she moved in, half of it was fenced off by what she calls a “Jurassic Park”-style barricade.

The ugly, 6-foot-high wire barrier also interferes with views from every window of her sixth-floor, $2,186-a-month pad.

“We’re caged in,” McFadzen told The Post.

This unexpected feature, which cuts off most of the terrace space for the eight units on the building's sixth floor, is "here to stay" according to an email McFadzen got from the super, who dismissed the idea that having signed a lease on a unit with a terrace could mean that residents were entitled to use it.

"If you feel that somehow you have a special privilege from the rest of the tenants to use all of the terrace, please provide me with the copy of your lease or lease rider that states that," [then-super Gjon] Chota wrote in an email.

See, this is the problem with poor people -- they just don't understand how the world works. If they thought they were going to want the special privilege of using the space they were renting, they should have gotten that in writing! It's not the landlord's fault they assumed that the apartment would be the same size it was when they decided to live there.

The superior brains at Queensboro Development, LLC claim that they need the extra space for staging their window washers, and it's not to be sullied with moderate-income feet even when there are no window-washers in sight. And residents should be prepared to deal with The Lawyers if they sneak out through the gaps in the fence to steal a little of the more-privileged air on the other side, because management is watching.

“It has come to our clients’ attention that you are exceeding your area of usage,” attorney William Slochowsky wrote on Oct. 28 — days after Q41 held a ribbon-cutting attended by Comptroller Scott Stringer, Rep. Carolyn Maloney and others.

And stay down.

The Queens Poor People Zoo is brought to you courtesy of New York taxpayers: the Q41 project would never have been completed if a city agency hadn't jumped in to save it with over $7 million in subsidies and $28 million in sweet-deal loans. The vast majority of the apartments became rent-stabilized in the process, meaning spaces that were originally designed for regular market-rate tenants are now occupied by those of more humble means (who can still cough up $2,176 a month to live in Queens).

Obviously Queensboro Development would never mistreat people who are in need of a little boost to make ends meet, since they have so richly benefited from the public purse themselves.

[New York Post]

Beth is on Twitter. That's her, behind the fence.


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