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Haves, have-nots divided by apartment poor doors

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 18, 2014 at 9:25 am •  Published: August 18, 2014
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To critics, treating rent-regulated residents differently sends a galling separate-and-unequal message. But developers say there can be financial and legal reasons for some separation.

Green Dorsey's landlord, Stonehenge Partners Inc., has said in a rights-commission filing that its gym policy is "an inducement to rent" market-rate apartments, noting that stabilized tenants get valuable plums of their own — like lower rent.

And fairly or not, apartment hunters may hesitate to buy an expensive place on the same floor as renters who don't have the same legal obligations, or means, to contribute to a building's ongoing expenses, said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, a major developers' and landlords' group. Even if doors are different, such buildings make for a mixed-income block, he noted.

"I would think that would be regarded as a significant accomplishment," Spinola said.

Hundreds of affordable apartments are sprinkled through one sleek Manhattan rental development's two towers, their lobbies nestled in an interior courtyard. But an adjoining, smaller building with 80 other affordable units has a door facing a bus depot.

"I'm very grateful to be able to live here," said one tenant in that building, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of angering his landlord. Tenants do share such features as a shuttle bus to transit lines, but he feels the separation "creates a real class tension."

The landlord declined to comment.

Some market-rate residents say separate lobbies and amenities are about sharing expenses, not creating social distance.

In Courtney Harding's glassy condo tower in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, owners pay as much as $1,000 a month on top of their mortgages to maintain the building and its services, she said. The common charges don't apply to renters in the low-rise, brick affordable companion building next door.

"If you're not paying the doorman's salary, is it fair for you to use the doorman?" said Harding, who feels tenants should have an option to pay fees to use amenities.

Boleslaw Wisniewski is one of those tenants, and he's fine with the way things are. His new, $700-a-month studio is about a quarter the neighborhood's going rate.

"The deal is very good," says Wisniewski, who doesn't think twice about the condo dwellers above him. "The glass building, it's a completely different building."

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Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.