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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Insult of Oval Essentials



They are now called "Oval Essentials." Part of the Oval amenities due for completion sometime in September, these spaces comprise the Oval Lounge, Oval Kids, Oval Film and Oval Study. They are strategically placed at four corners of the Oval, the central hub and lifeblood of Stuyvesant Town. Unless you live on the borders of Stuy Town and never go into the interior, you will be unable to miss these new spaces as you walk by. And, don't forget, they are now "essential," so if they are not a part of your life, you are less of a person that you thought you were. What's the matter? Can't afford the small initiation fee and monthly charge?

Tishman Speyer, in creating these "Essentials" and mandating a charge for them, furthers the division of the Stuy Town community into those who have and those who haven't. We are already seeing how different classes of people were created and/or nurtured by TS decision making and "improvements." We now have the following cliques of people, not all actuallized since TS came into the picture, of course, and some interchangeable: 1) rent stabilized tenants, 2) market rate tenants, 3) NYU tenants, 4) tenants without dogs, 5) tenants with dogs. At various times, members of each group bitch about the other group, creating bad feelings and rifts in what used to be a unified community. Now we are going to have two more cliques (although one of these should be rightfully called "the peasants"): those who have the "Essentials" and those who don't.

It is easy to foresee the looks of loathing that will be directed at those enjoying the "Essentials," as those without the essentials will be going to or returning from work. Or the dejected looks of our community's retirees on fixed incomes who will not be able to partake of those essentials, though they've been around long enough to remember when all of Stuyvesant Town's true essentials were available for free to everyone here.

It is also easy to foresee the kids who will be nagging their parents without essentials to join the "Essentials" because of Oval Kids. Perhaps some of their friends will have essentials, but they won't. See Jack cry. See Jane weep. See Jack cry some more. See Jane weep some more. See Jack and Jane's parents join Oval Essentials!

I truly feel sorry for those parents who, on a tight budget, may not be able to afford these essentials, which will leave their kids feeling as if they are in the poor house rather than in Stuyvesant Town, the "ultimate living experience in Manhattan."

2 comments:

David said...

I just left this comment over on the Lux Living site, but I think it bears repeating on this site too, so here it is:

Seriously, has anyone looked at the prices they are charging for these "amenities?" A $250 initiation fee plus another $20 per month just to be able to walk into these tiny spaces. And you can't just sign up for one, in hopes of cutting the price down, nope it's all 4 or nothing. There's no trial period, which would be helpful since they are asking us to sign up based on a a computer rendering and some bullet-pointed text. There's no discount for folks already here, except for one free month, a $20 value. They ARE however, waiving the membership fee for new tenants, so nice. AND they are capping the all memberships, so we should sign up NOW before they run out of room, according to the guy I spoke with on the phone. The gentleman also went on and on about how useful these amenities would be and - here's the kicker - how this puts PCVST on the level of "luxury" doorman buildings with amenities. To which I replied: I can think of at least three reasons why that statement makes no sense:
1. Typical amenities in NYC doorman buildings do NOT require an initiation fee. There may be a nominal monthly fee for the gym & kids room, but never initiation fees, and it should be noted that there is NEVER a monthly fee for a concierge.
2. Typical amenities exist INSIDE of people's buildings, not half a mile away as would be the case for some residents. Point is, people will need to walk a ways to get to their amenities, so all the more reason there shouldn't be exorbitant charges to use them.
3. Typical amenities do not "cap" their memberships. There are 25,000 people who live here -- even if they allow 2500 members to join these places (a large number, given that the gym has capped their membership at 1200) that is still ONLY TEN PERCENT of the entire population of PCVST. Have you ever heard of an amenity that was only available to 10% of the people?
Bottom line: we could swing all the crazy charges they are asking for here, but the fact is we'd feel STUPID if we did.
And I really did say all that to the Oval-Rep on the phone. His response was to say "well, nothing's for free" and that I'd probably change my mind once I tried these places out. I told him I doubted it and wished him luck trying to convince people to sign up.
Just had to get all that off my chest. Thanks for listening.

Stuy Town Reporter said...

So there's a cap on membership? Should make members feel more special, while 90% of Stuy Town feels not so special. That is if Tishman Speyer can fill those member rolls. Thanks, David, for the information and your feedback to the Amenities rep.