Luxury Developments in Brooklyn Have Long Had Separate Entrances for Poor People

The Edge Community Apartments affordable housing Williamsburg

  • Curbed
  • The affordable housing component of the Edge in Williamsburg

A luxury development on the Upper West Side plans to have two entrances: one for its wealthy residents and another for its affordable-housing residents, the West Side Rag reports. The story has been widely picked up with outrage at such a blatant separation of classes reminiscent more of ye olde England than the America of our imaginations, contemporary or otherwise. “Of course, New York real estate is filled with ‘poor doors’ and ‘rich doors,'” the website reports. “Buildings that are just across the street from each other often house people with vastly different incomes.” But it’s also true that the city already boasts developments with separate entrances for different classes. Just look at Brooklyn.

More than two years ago, the Times reported on the discrepancies between the luxury and affordable components of both the Northside Piers and the Edge developments in Williamsburg. “While at each site the luxury towers and the affordable buildings share the same developers, the same blocks and, in some places, the same walls, the sharing ends there,” reporter Cara Buckley wrote. “The entrances are separate. At Northside Piers, for example, residents enter from North Fourth Street, while the affordable building, which is farther from the water, opens onto North Fifth. The lobbies of the luxury sides have doormen, plush sofas and potted plants; the lobbies of their affordable counterparts are lined with tiles and little else. Tenants on the affordable side are not allowed access to any of the condos’ many amenities—pools, billiard rooms and Jacuzzis, to name a few. All of which has some of the affordable tenants feeling as if they are pressing their faces against all that fancy glass.”

We can be outraged about such class-based segregation, but let’s recognize it’s older than the proposed building on the UWS. “This ‘separate but equal’ arrangement is abominable and has no place in the 21st century, let alone on the Upper West Side,” the local assemblymember told the West Side Rag. Let alone in any part of NYC, even Brooklyn.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart


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