"Poor doors"—the apartment entrances that allow market-rate tenants to forget about the "affordable" underclass of people they live next to—are becoming passé. Developers need to come up with new imaginative ways of punishing the less fortunate. That's the way one Queens couple sees it: they believe their building has put up a 'poor fence' that restricts lower-rent tenants from utilizing their entire terrace area.
"I can’t imagine them saying [to market-rate tenants], 'You get this beautiful view of Manhattan behind a giant metal fence,'" said resident Erik Clancy.
The Post has the report today about Long Island City’s new Q41 building, a 17-story condo located at 23-10 41st Avenue. Clancy and his girlfriend Erin McFadzen are living in one of the "affordable" middle-income, rent stabilized units. They say they chose their two-bedroom apartment because of the wrap-around terrace—but when they moved in, there was suddenly a wire fence restricting access to it.
"We’re caged in," McFadzen told the Post. "Every time someone comes over, I have to explain why the fence is there...and tell them we’re rent stabilized, like it’s a badge I have to wear."
Despite saying they were "assured multiple times by the building" that they would be able to use the entire balcony, developer Queensboro Development says the fence is necessary to set up a staging area for window washers...even on days when the washers aren't there. But they point to the market-rate 16th floor apartment, which has a huge terrace and does not have any fence, as a sign of inequality within the complex.
There are at least eight units on the sixth-floor neighboring McFadzen and Clancy who also have nearly-unusable terraces. Q41’s former super, Gjon Chota, allegedly told the couple "the fence is there to stay” because of other residents with smaller balconies.
"If you feel that somehow you have a special privilege from the rest of tenants to use all of the terrace, please provide me with the copy of your lease or lease rider that states that," Chota wrote in an email.
It's worth noting that 109 out of 117 units in the building are designated as "affordable"—with studios starting at $1,100 and two-bedrooms costing around $2,200. If you're looking for a good example of a developer-friendly compromise that slows the growth of the city's affordable housing stock, look elsewhere. Terraces are the least of our troubles.