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NYC developer bypassed ‘poor doors’ with separate address: suit

A Manhattan real estate company bypassed the ban on so-called “poor doors” by creating a separate address at a Hudson Yards development for prospective low-income tenants, a new suit claims.

Three prospective low-income tenants said they were selected in a 2019 lottery for housing at a sleek high-rise located at 15 Hudson Yards on the far west side of Midtown, according to a Manhattan federal court complaint filed Thursday.

But instead of being offered apartments with access to the building’s pool, rooftop deck and fitness center — they were offered units on the building’s lower floors at the separate address of 553 West 30th Street, the suit alleges.

The 30th street address “sits on the same grounds as 15 Hudson Yards, but in an entirely separate part of the building and with a different address,” according to the suit.

Guests watch the fireworks during the Edge at Hudson Yard's 4th of July Celebration at Edge at Hudson Yards on July 04, 2021 in New York City.
Despite living in the building, three would-be tenants are not able to experience the luxury of Hudson Yards.
Getty Images for Edge at Hudson

In an interview with The Post last week, one of the prospective low-income tenants said she was warned that she would have to use the entrance at the 30th Street address — and would not be allowed to access the luxury amenities at 15 Hudson Yards.

“My housing specialist told me I would not be able to use their pool on the 51st floor. She explained to me that I wouldn’t be able to use the playroom. She explained I couldn’t come in through the front entrance,” said Chanel Moody, 37, who is a NYCHA maintenance worker that lives with her 2-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old cousin.

“I asked her, ‘If I’m coming from 34th Street and I’m closer to 15 Hudson Yards and it’s windy, I wouldn’t be able to go through this door here?’ No, I would have to go around to 553 West 30th,” Moody added.

“I felt like I’m not going to put my daughter through that,” she added.

Hudson Yards in midtown New York City is pictured December 4, 2018. - Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States and the largest development in New York City since Rockefeller Center.
Jon Weinstein, a spokesman for Related, called the lawsuit “frivolous” adding it doesn’t have “any basis in actual fact.”
AFP via Getty Images

Another one of the prospective tenants said employees at the building played coy with him and his disabled wife when they asked about using the amenities during an interview at the building.

“The pool for [my wife] and I was very helpful because she has multiple sclerosis and it’s easy for her to be in a pool for exercise, and I have severe rheumatoid arthritis,” said Ronnie Clark, 61.

“We asked them about all the amenities, and they kept saying, ‘We don’t know what you’ll be able to do,’” Clark said.

“They never said no. I think the reason they never said no is because they wanted us to continue the process, and then once they got us on the dotted line, we would have to go,” he added.

Picture of the building.
Three prospective low-income tenants said they were selected in a 2019 lottery for housing at a sleek high-rise located at 15 Hudson Yards.
Matthew McDermott

So-called “poor doors” in the city, which allowed buildings that received a tax break for accepting low-income residents to have separate entrances for those residents and their rich neighbors, were banned in 2015 by the state legislature.

“Regardless of whether the defendants violated [the partial tax exemption law] the differences in wealth equate to the lower-income residents not having access to market-rate tenants and the posh amenities and rules and regulations of 15 Hudson Yards, which has become a modern day ‘New York-style financial apartheid,’” the suit charges.

The suit claims the real estate firms that developed and operate the 15 Hudson Yards site — the Related Companies and Ery South Residential — violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against the prospective tenants based on their race.

The would-be tenants are now seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages.

Jon Weinstein, a spokesman for Related, called the lawsuit “frivolous” adding it doesn’t have “any basis in actual fact.”

“To be clear there is one lobby in the building with entrances on 30th street and the Plaza, accessible to everyone who lives in or visits the building,” Weinstein’s statement continued.

“While we do not comment on the specifics of lawsuits it appears that the claims that this lawyer is making are categorically false.”

Weinstein also noted that none of the residents who moved in through the affordable rental application process have left since the building opened over two years ago — which he says is a testament to the quality of the building, services and apartments.

A rep for Ery South Residential couldn’t be reached.

Additional reporting by Priscilla DeGregory

https://nypost.com/2021/07/22/nyc-developer-bypassed-poor-doors-with-separate-address-suit/

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