Photo by Kavitha Surana

(Photo by Kavitha Surana)

Now that the pile drivers have finished work on the foundations of Extell’s controversial 80-story behemoth on 252 South Street (known as One Manhattan Square), it’s pretty much a done deal.

And last night, a group of Lower East Side residents gathered at the Manny Cantor Center not to protest, this time anyway, but to discuss the inevitable construction issues (like the ones we started seeing almost immediately with the Domino development) and learn more details about the affordable housing portion of the development. Adding to the interiors released a couple weeks ago which included designer bags, the new renderings depict even more things to make rich people feel comfortable, including what’s essentially a “poor door” or, in this case, an entirely separate building.

As people trickled in to the meeting, a woman examined the glossy renderings, trying to imagine what her neighborhood would look like in a few years time. “Has it sunk in yet?” asked Trever Holland, president of Two Bridges Tower Residents Association and the moderator of the meeting. “Nope,” she replied, looking closer. “Where’s the walkway?”

“It looks so out of place,” grumbled another neighbor. “I hope they make a decent super market.”

Extell reps discussed solutions to what neighbors anticipate to be some inconveniences caused by the massive construction project. These include street shutdowns, early morning construction work and repairs to nearby buildings damaged in the process of construction (though no definitive updates on that supermarket yet). They also released new and updated renderings of of the 13-story building planned at 229 Cherry Street, located behind One Manhattan Square– which, despite a push for mixed-income housing, essentially creates an entirely separate area for the affordable housing tenants, which is also achieved by what’s popularly known as a “poor door.”

(Renderings by Extell / Photo by Kavitha Surana)

(Renderings by Extell)

(Renderings by Extell)

(Renderings by Extell)

OK, so the amenities don’t even come close to the doggy spa, fire pit, and tea pagoda paradise planned for the market rate units, which appear to be designed specifically for attracting oligarchs. That’s to be expected, and actually we wouldn’t want affordable housing to be too pricy– quality is certainly important, but wouldn’t it be better to build 100 fairly spartan affordable apartments than 20 units with luxury finishes? Additionally, Extell has made some concessions it seems: the entrance lobby for 229 Cherry Street has been updated, and there are plans for a “community room,” the renderings of which depict a furnished outdoor terrace with a view of the bridges, which ain’t bad.

But the controversy, of course, lies in the symbolic separation of tenants and restricted access to common areas and perks. Having two separate buildings or different entrances, critics of “poor doors” say, effectively creates a gated community for the rich, inside which they can pool their resources, their connections, their social circles which leads to more nepotism, isolation, and misunderstanding. We figured out that “separate but equal” was bullshit a long time ago, and no one’s even pretending this is “equal.”

IMG_5222

(Renderings by Extell)

Construction begins in September 2016 and is expected to finish by early 2018. Raizy Haas, Senior Vice President of Extell, said the Cherry Street building will have 205 units, all designated as affordable housing. Residents living within Community Board 3’s jurisdiction have dibs on submitting their applications first for those affordable units. The building is slated to have 49 studios, 51 one-bedrooms, and 104 two-bedrooms.

The company says it’s in the process of designing the plaza between the construction site and 82 Rutgers. “We are going to come back in the next couple of months and present a couple of options that we’ve designed to owners and to the tenants’ association and try to get your feedback,” she said. One proposal includes the installation of a “green wall” in the plaza, complete with new trees and outdoor lighting.

Glance through the renderings, think you might qualify? If so, you’re gonna have to be ready to hop to it– applications for affordable units consistently (and dramatically) outnumber available units. But you already know that. Hey, maybe your neighbors will even invite you over for a game of ball in the bowling alley. We trust you already have a response in mind, and we’re sure it involves telling them where to shove that bowling ball.