New 'Health' Plan: Deliberately 'Slow' Elevators Make People Climb Stairs

By Penny Starr | August 7, 2013 | 10:05am EDT

This Wednesday, March 6, 2013 photo shows the apartment building at 1475 Madison Avenue in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

( – As part of his ongoing campaign to transform New York City into what he calls “Fit City,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg is promoting “active design” for low-income housing developments being built there, including plans to prompt residents to use the stairs and rooftop gardens for growing “healthy” foods.

In 2010, the Bloomberg Administration and other public and private sector groups issued the “Active Design Guidelines,” which promotes car-free neighborhoods, encourages “physical movement” inside buildings and “improves access to nutritious food.”

The Center for Action Design was launched next as a resource for architects and developers who sign on to the idea of “promoting health through the design of buildings, streets, and neighborhoods,” as stated by David Burney, Board Chairman for CAD.

In March, the 124-unit, $37.7 million Arbor House was opened in the Bronx, according to a July 31 Newsday report.

The article stated that the “affordable housing” development features murals and music along the stairway, with elevators located farther away from the front door that are “programmed to move at a slow pace.”

“One witty slogan posted on a staircase door reads: ‘If your dog is fat, you're not getting enough exercise,’” the Newsday article stated.

The Arbor also features a 10,000 square foot, rooftop hydroponic garden where vegetables will be grown, the article stated.

"If this building was five miles south in Manhattan it would be a luxury building," Les Bluestone, co-founder and partner of Blue Sea Development, owner and developer of the Arbor House, told Newsday.

"Affordable housing doesn't have to look like public housing," Bluestone said, adding that some low-income housing "scares people."

The Arbor House “is part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, a multi-billion dollar initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of the 2014 fiscal year,” stated an article in the New York City Housing Authority Journal.

In an article for Marketplace Morning Report, Stan Alcorn asked the director of innovation for Otis Elevator what he thought of the idea.

“Fundamentally, we agree,” Daryl Marvin said. “It makes a lot of sense to take the stairs if you can.

“At the same time, there’s lots of times where that’s not a practical solution,” Marvin said.

The Arbor House’s 124 units are located on eight floors – three floors less than Bloomberg’s own residence on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

The New York Daily News reported on July 17 that the billionaire mayor has an elevator in his $30 million townhouse.

“I have five floors,” Bloomberg said in the report. “I take the stairs.” asked Joanna Frank, executive director of CAD, several questions about CAD, including how the non-profit was funded.

The email request was not answered.

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