UPDATED, 1:15 p.m. March 11: Developer Young Woo recently brought up building dog condos in Chelsea, which left at least one New Yorker barking mad.
Woo floated the idea on a recent panel discussion about dogs at the Museum of Modern Art that also included Columbia University professor of gender studies and English Jack Halberstam.
The developer touched on subjects including dog amenities at buildings and how he views his own dogs as part of his extended family. But when he brought up constructing a condo building that would be for hounds, things got pretty ruff.
Halberstam slammed Woo for considering building housing for dogs at a time when the city is facing rising homelessness and an overall housing crisis — a rebuke met with cheers from some audience members.
And the gender studies professor did not back down from his criticism in a later email exchange with The Real Deal.
“There was so much to be upset about,” Halberstam said, including “the cluelessness about using resources, time, imagination to figure out how to house dogs when the homelessness crisis is at an apex.”
The Columbia professor added that dogs’ priorities in housing are likely quite different from the typical condo buyer.
“In a city that is not at all committed to housing people in reusable, affordable ways, why should we care about building apartments for dogs who probably do not want an apartment anyway?” Halberstam said. “Dogs in the end just want a nice smelly place to poop, run and sniff.”
Woo stressed that his idea for a dog condo remains extremely preliminary and said he respected Halberstam’s opinion. However, he said he viewed building a dog condo and helping the city’s homeless as two completely separate matters.
“Creating a policy for homeless people is urgent, I agree,” the Youngwoo & Associates founder told TRD, “but I believe that dogs have nothing to do with homeless people.”
Woo’s son, Bryan, later clarified that humans would live in the building as well, but it would be filled with dog amenities and geared toward pet owners.
Woo has a history of outside the box ideas when it comes to real estate. The developer has previously turned heads with plans for a car elevator in his condo project at 200 11th Avenue and the office-and-retail complex at Pier 57, where Google now has a major lease.
The developer said that he has been studying the concept of a dog condo for many years and thinks the project could ultimately work out well for both the canines and their human owners.
“I love dogs,” the developer said. “And by making a dog happy, they make people happy.”
UPDATE: Bryan Woo clarified after publication that the building would be for humans as well.