Judge Dismisses Low-Income Tenants’ ‘Poor Door’ Suit at 15 Hudson Yards


A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by low-income tenants at 15 Hudson Yards that claimed they were illegally separated by market-rate residents with a separate address and a different lobby, court records show.

Judge Valerie Caproni ruled that the case, filed by three tenants at 15 Hudson Yards in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York last year, failed to prove that developer Related Companies violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by treating them differently than other affordable and market-rate residents solely because of race, according to the opinion.

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“Plaintiffs’ factual allegations do not make it possible to infer that the disparate treatment is related to plaintiffs’ race, color or national origin,” Caproni wrote in her ruling. “Because plaintiffs have not adequately pleaded a comparator who is similarly situated but treated better, they have not adequately pled a disparate treatment claim.” 

Chanel Moody and two other tenants at 15 Hudson Yards accused Related of sequestering affordable tenants in the lower level of the 70-story building with a separate address of 553 West 30th Street. Moody told the New York Post she was warned after she got a $1,348-a-month, two-bedroom apartment that she would have to go through a different entrance and wouldn’t be allowed to use amenities offered to other tenants.

The suit claimed that Related actions were trying to skirt the city’s ban on so-called “poor doors” — entrances that separate market-rate tenants from low-income tenants in the same building — by making an entirely new address for affordable residents.

Related told Commercial Observer last year that the building has only one lobby with two entrances and not a single tenant in the skyscraper’s 107 affordable apartments moved out since it opened.

“As we said from the very beginning, this lawsuit was a frivolous, headline-chasing endeavor by a plaintiff’s lawyer and had no basis in fact,” a spokesperson for Related said in a statement about the dismissal. “We appreciate the court dismissing these completely baseless claims.”

Judge Caproni ruled the case would fall under the FHA law — which prevents housing discrimination based on race but not economic status — but the tenants could not prove that Related treated them differently than other affordable tenants in the building based on their race and dismissed the case.

Mark Shirian, the lawyer for the tenants, said that he plans to “vigorously pursue the city and state law claims, which have not been dismissed” and plans to appeal Caproni’s ruling.

Nicholas Rizzi can be reached at nrizzi@commercialobserver.com.