Monday, August 31, 2009
More info and updates can be found at:
Well, at least Stuyvesant Town is trying, but a random check of the success of the green barricades to stop bicycle riding in the complex on the weekend showed that not one bicyclist stopped or got off his or her bicycle despite the barriers and the "Bicycle Riding Prohibited" signs in display on the outer barricades and at the window top of the security booth. Many bicyclists didn't even slow down, weaving between the barricades as if they were part of a fun obstacle course. The only slow down seemed to be coming from pedestrians in groups, who had to disengage from talking with each other and file through the open spaces between the barricades. Part of the time, a security person was inside the guard booth nearby, but he never got out to enforce the no bicycle riding rule. The other part of the time, at least for over an hour, there was no security staff in sight anywhere in the Oval area.
Once again, the failure of this plan rests on the general non-involvement of security to actually go out and stop bicyclists. Barricades and notices just won't do it. But, perhaps, this is just phase one of an overall plan, and the second phase will involve the active, not sporadic, use of security.
The no-bicycle rule needs to be amended, I think, to reflect reality. Delivery men and residents on bicycles will naturally try to ride in or out through the lengthy complex. What is important to safety is that this riding be done at slower, and not killer, speeds.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Here’s a recent e-mail I received from a reader of this blog who has given me permission to publish it online:
I’d like to inform you of a visit I made to the Management Office. Armed with a few questions and the patience of Job, I tried to find someone in the office who I could speak to about four issues that appear to bothering longtime Stuy Town residents such as myself:
1) How can this be a private community, with signs stating that trespassers could face prosecution, when it seems that security doesn’t stop non-residents from walking through and using the property, such as the Oval?
2) What are the rules concerning dogs relieving themselves in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper? Where are they allowed to do “the numbers”?
3) What’s the status of the “no bicycle-riding” rule?
4) And why is there so little security presence in the Oval?
After speaking to a couple of people behind the desk, one of whom was clearly annoyed with my questions, I spoke to a security guard who tried to be helpful, but who didn’t have tangible explanations. Could I speak to someone else, please? Finally I had a sit-down with the head of security (who had artfully turned his badge around so I couldn’t read his name). It was a pleasant give and take, however, and I appreciate the time he took to answer my questions. Here are the responses:
1) This is “private property with public access.” Unless someone is being a nuisance, security is not going to throw them out.
2) Dogs are able to do “the numbers” anyplace, except in the areas they are not allowed on, such as the grass. This means that, yes, a dog is allowed to defecate on a walkway, as long as the owner picks up the droppings. The “curb your dog” policy has been replaced by the “pick up after your dog” policy. (The security head appeared not to know that retractable leashes that extend beyond six feet are illegal, however.)
3) Bicycle riding is still prohibited in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper. Security on occasion will hand out notices informing riders of this and each tenant has the bicycle rule on their lease when they move in. (I got the sense, though, that this rule is one that security is not too concerned about enforcing, which we all know is true.)
4) Security is always around the Oval someplace. If not in the security booth, then walking the around the Oval or investigating one of the adjacent buildings. (I assured the head of security that this has not been the case through personal observation and the observation of my neighbors I’ve spoken to.)
I did notice an increase in security presence the week following my conversation at the Management Office. Though I’m not saying that this was a direct response to the concerns I had voiced, I do think we should make sure to contact the appropriate people at Management (in person is the best and most effective way) if we want things to get done or taken seriously. I’m sure there’s a point beyond which matters will not change, but without more personal involvement from tenants, matters will certainly not change.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
1010 Wins is reporting a fatal early morning shooting "in Stuyvesant Town," but according to their own report the incident happened on Ave. A "outside a Mediterranean restaurant." Very sloppy headline that I'm sure Jerry and Robbie don't want to see. Let's see if other news sources make the same mistake.
Update: The Daily News has an accurate report about the above incident, which was not even outside of a "Mediterranean" restaurant, unless China has moved. Forbidden City is the place, and you can familiarize yourself with it from the comments on Yelp. Forbidden City mostly gets an Asian crowd, but can get diverse, too. Located less than a full block from Stuy Town.
8/24 Update: NY Daily News. The dead bouncer is 42 year old father who tried to break up a fight at the tail end of a Latin Night at the lounge.
8/25 Update: "An ex-con from East Harlem was busted Monday for gunning down a bouncer and wounding two other men outside a popular East Village club...." NY Daily News.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Another media hit, this time from the NY Post:
Developer Tishman Speyer has nearly depleted a $650 million cash reserve needed to prop up iconic apartment complexes Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, and thanks to an unresolved court case, can't replenish its coffers.
Sources tell The Post that the real-estate developer led by Chairman Jerry Speyer has had to put its fundraising plans on ice because the properties' revenue potential is tied up in the legal battle....
Under normal circumstances, savvy, well-respected developers like Tishman would simply go out and raise more money, either through loans or by selling stakes to new investors.
But an unresolved court case that could affect its revenues from the property is crimping those plans, sources said....
On Sept. 10, the New York Court of Appeals will hear Tishman's appeal of the decision. But even if the courts ultimately rule in Tishman's favor, sources said a decision could take months.
And until Tishman can answer if and when it can convert the complex's apartments to market-rate units, investors are likely to stay away from any deals the developer tries to put together.
"It's a material risk," said one real-estate lawyer. Losing the case will have a "very, very, very, very material impact," and investors just aren't willing to take the chance, he said.
Tishman officials declined to comment, but people close to the firm said the developer and its investors are banking on the cash reserves lasting through at least March or April, giving them time to rebuild the cash coffers once the case is settled....
The full article by Kaja Whitehouse is here.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
You know, there are still just too many rent-stabilized seniors living in Stuyvesant Town. Probably a bunch are living around the Oval. Even those 30/40/50 somethings are a pain in the ass if they are RS tenants. So here's a gift from Tishman Speyer: Music to Make You Wish You Lived Someplace Other Than Stuy Town or How to Pack More NYU Students into Stuy Town
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Looks like Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village is not the only financial headache for Rob Speyer:
A partnership led by Tishman Speyer Properties is in default on debt tied to one of the largest office portfolios in the Washington area, the latest in a line of humbling turns for the prominent property developer. Tishman Speyer paid $2.8 billion in late 2006 for what was known as the CarrAmerica portfolio, a collection of 28 buildings leased to law firms, lobbyists and other upscale tenants in and around Washington. But in taking advantage of the easy credit terms of the time, Tishman ended up overpaying....
It is proving a test of the business mettle of Rob Speyer, a 39-year old former newspaper reporter. The son of Jerry Speyer -- former chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and chairman of the Museum of Modern Art -- is being groomed to take over Tishman Speyer, a closely held 31-year-old firm that owns or manages real estate valued at over $35 billion from Brazil to Germany to China.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
To mail or not to mail, that is the question.
By now or Monday, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village tenants should have in their post office boxes, a "Temporary Wall Survey" from Tishman Speyer. As the enclosed letter states, "In order to get an accurate inventory, we must identify those apartments in which temporary walls have been installed and then inspect those apartments to determine if the temporary walls are Code-compliant." The company requests that tenants fill out the single one-sided page form that will identify whether their apartment has a temporary wall and, if so, where it is placed. The letter concludes with a paragraph thanking tenants for their "anticipated cooperation." A postage paid envelope is included.
Concern over pressurized walls came to a fore when the complex's Tenant Association informed the city that Tishman Speyer was not in compliance with city regulations via pressurized walls. This resulted in New York City's Department of Buildings and FDNY demanding that the illegal walls be removed, which also put a stop to the installation of new walls until their design and placement would be cleared by the DOB, which eventually, after a long wait by tenants who use these walls, happened.
So why the survey now? It may be a final requirement from the DOB or a preemptive move by Tishman Speyer just in case trouble over pressurized walls begins again, as a signed form appears to take the legal burden off of TS by placing it onto the tenant. There have been a slew of new tenants coming in of late (chiefly college kids) and probably just as many new installations of pressurized walls, a good number of which TS may not be aware of. Legally, TS may have no other option than to have a list of apartments that contain pressurized walls and make sure those are code-compliant.
Certainly, if we look at the situation from the point of view of what is right (safety concerns) everyone should fill out the form truthfully. After all, this was the motive behind the involvement of the Tenants Association in this matter. The only people who may regret filling out the form are those tenants who have illegal walls (or who may think they have illegal walls) and tenants who have placed such walls to accommodate more roommates than are listed on their lease. If their walls do not comply with building codes, the tenants themselves will have to pay for their removal and the installation of new, code-compliant walls. If an apartment contains a half-dozen roommates not on the lease, well, that's another critical issue.
Of interest is this: Can Tishman Speyer eventually enter every apartment to verify the presence or lack of pressurized walls?
To be continued, no doubt!
So asks the business info/analysis site Crain's New York. A new online article on Crain's has more on what's going on in New York, with foreclosures on properties providing opportunities for investment groups (including BlackRock!) to "swoop in" and gobble up these properties.
In Manhattan alone, there are 130 troubled properties worth $7.5 billion, according to Real Capital Analytics. With credit markets still frozen shut, many owners will be unable to refinance loans falling due and will have no choice but to default.
Eastdil Secured, for example, is currently marketing a $100 million debt position owned by insurer The Hartford that was used in 2006 to help finance the $5.4 billion purchase of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village by Tishman Speyer and BlackRock. The owners had hoped to deregulate a substantial number of units in the sprawling rent-regulated complex and use the increased cash flow to pare down debt. That didn't happen, and the complex has been rapidly burning through rainy-day reserve funds. A default is possible as early as this fall, sources say.
Things may get very messy, however, because, as the article reasons, lawsuits are possible among a property's initial lenders. "Some lenders' positions will be completely wiped out in the event of a foreclosure," notes Crain's.
Somehow, I think, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village will be saved from default, at least if papa Jerry Speyer can pull strings to help son Rob out of the embarrassment of such a downfall.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
NEW YORK, Aug 14 (Reuters) - The borrowed interest reserves that were part of the loans used to buy Manhattan's Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town apartment complexes could run out in four months, according to a Credit Suisse report.
The interest reserves on the property fell to $56.5 million at the end of July, down from the $400 million at the time of the underwriting, according to the report.
About $13.3 million of is was used in July, the analysts said in the report released on Thursday.
"If interest reserve drawdowns continue at this rate, there are about four months left until the reserve is depleted," analysts wrote in a research note.
Tishman Speyer and BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) purchased the 110 apartment buildings on 80 Manhattan acres from MetLife Inc (MET.N) in 2006 for $5.4 billion. They intended to boost revenue by converting rent-stabilized apartments into market rent apartments.
As of March 2009, 61 percent of the units were rent stabilized, unchanged from the end of 2008.
At the time of the purchase, the $3 billion senior mortgage loan was broken into parts and spread across different commercial mortgage-backed security (CMBS) trusts.
Tishman Speyer Properties is trying to appeal a recent New York State appellate court decision that could return certain recently deregulated apartments back to regulated status. (Reporting by Ilaina Jonas. Editing by Robert MacMillan)
Is Tishman Speyer now writing and photographing for the NY Times? Take a look at this photo. Aside from the parquet floor and the hint of a beam, I can't recognize a Stuyvesant Town apartment, so the photographer must have done a great job of positioning his camera and using an appropriate truth-defying lens. (And, yes, it is a Stuy Town apartment.) Some of the text in the accompanying Habitat article is pure rose-colored puffery:
Thanks to the miracle of temporary walls, a second bedroom was carved out of the living room, and the new partitions included French doors off the reconfigured hallway. So artfully was the work done that the new walls, which cost them $1,850 to install, look as if they had been in place forever.
The Finks adored their old neighborhood. But barely 72 hours after moving into Stuyvesant Town, they were burbling about the attractions of their new home. From the kitchen window they can watch the antics of the squirrel that lives in a tree across the way. The top of the Empire State Building is visible through the branches. Their old apartment faced a brick wall, and they never knew what the weather was.There’s more. Their old kitchen was nothing more than a stove, a sink and a refrigerator next to a pull-out sofa, which, by the way, couldn’t be pulled out because there was not enough space. In this kitchen, they can actually cook, a nice touch for two self-described foodies....
But the Finks are not dwelling on the twists and turns of Stuyvesant Town’s recent history. Rather, they are savoring the same amenities that have long attracted people to this complex, among them Stuyvesant Oval, in the center of the development, where they sit around the fountain, enjoy the free WiFi, buy fresh peaches at the Greenmarket on Sundays, and see people their age sunbathing atop brightly colored towels. The fact that friends of theirs already live in the complex makes it feel even more welcoming.
Courtesy The New York Times and writer Constance Rosenblum and photographer Librado Romero.
P.S. The audio slide show is very much worth your attention, too. Librado did a wonderful job.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
As reported in the NY Post and subsequently on the Lux Living Blog, there's new legislation sponsored by Barney Frank making it's way through Congress that can theoretically help Tishman Speyer out with its financial problems with Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Titled "H.R. 3068: TARP for Main Street Act of 2009," here's the pertinent section of this bill that may help Tishman Speyer:
SEC. 5. MULTIFAMILY MORTGAGE RESOLUTION.
(a) Use of TARP Funds- Using the authority available under section 115(a) of division A of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (12 U.S.C. 5225(a)), the Secretary of the Treasury shall transfer $2,000,000,000 to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for use under the program developed under subsection (b) to stabilize multifamily properties that are in default or foreclosure, or have recently been foreclosed.
(b) Multifamily Mortgage Resolution Program- The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development shall develop a program under this subsection to ensure the protection of current and future tenants of at-risk multifamily properties, where feasible, based on criteria that may include--
(1) creating sustainable financing of such properties, that may take into consideration such factors as--
(A) the rental income generated by such properties; and
(B) the preservation of adequate operating reserves;
(2) maintaining the level of Federal, State, and city subsidies in effect as of the date of enactment of this Act;
(3) providing funds for rehabilitation; and
(4) facilitating the transfer of such properties, when appropriate and with the agreement of owners, to responsible new owners and ensuring affordability of such properties.
(c) Definition- For purposes of this section, the term ‘multifamily properties’ means a residential structure that consists of 5 or more dwelling units.
While I don't think Tishman Speyer could get its hands on this money (after all, TS can certainly get private capital to reinvest in STPCV and the company is not, overall, in dire straits), one can never tell how these things will go. No way should Tishman Speyer receive such funds unless there'd be a legal commitment to maintain affordable middle-class housing here.
This website tracks the progress of this bill through Congress.
They've been there since the Oval fountain area was redone by Met-Life, but a few weeks back, suddenly they were gone--a couple of trees imported from across the land. (Any tree fan or arborist know more about these trees?) Stuyvesant Town's current stewards couldn't keep one of them alive, so now both were removed, replaced by simple and inexpensive flower beds that provide no welcoming shade or unique visual treat.
Monday, August 10, 2009
"Hopefully you will be threatened to take down your blog as well. All either of you do is spread false rumors about what life is like at PCVST. Living here is great and I've yet to experience 1 tenth of the 'issues' that you say plague residents. Why don't you concentrate on spreading love rather than hate."
In honor of the above message....
Saturday, August 8, 2009
"Isolated incidents." That's the response from a Tishman Speyer representative to the increasing rat population in Stuyvesant Town observed by a good number of residents of late. Above is a recent photo taken by a reader of this blog of a potential plague carrier darting around the corner of a Stuy Town wall.
The "isolated incidents" comment appeared in this week's Town and Village newspaper, in editor Sabina Mollot's article titled "Spike in rat sightings in Stuy Town, Gramercy Park." Regarding the rat issue, the Tishman Speyer spokesperson stated:
"As is the case in every New York City neighborhood, isolated incidents occur. However, there has not been a noticeable increase in the number of resident complaints or requests for service calls."
Hm.... So I guess the invitation is out to call the Management Office (212-420-5000) and Lance Cohen (212-420-4929), the property manager of Stuy Town, whenever you see a rat (the rodent, not human, kind). You should also call the Department of Health at 212-442-9666.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
"This has been my T for the past few days. Huge fucking mudslides that I literally cannot skate through - my skateboard gets STUCK in all the mud, even cruising at full speed. Also, note the wonderful dumpster that has been a part of my front yard for the past few months now. Always a shiny new blue dumpster to fill up with shit."
Monday, August 3, 2009
Look what came in under the door. Effective August 1 (that's two days ago), Oval Concierge will be free--well, sort of. No monthly fee for these "exclusive paid concierge services*" [*Pricing varies by service]: Housekeeping, dry cleaning and laundry, pet services, discount movie tickets, stamps, MetroCards, photocopying, faxing, etc.
And, yes, there's an "Oval" lettering before Concierge, but it disappears at scanning.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Above: There's a rat in that photo someplace. Can you see him hiding?
Alerted by a blog reader, who e-mailed me that he had seen near sunset at least half-a-dozen rats scurrying around the bushes on the northeast side of the Oval lawn in the vegetation island between the gravel path and the asphalt walkway, I braced myself for the worst and hurried outside with my camera to see if 1) I could verify the report and 2) take a photo of the revolting show of rat force.
Indeed, when I arrived I noticed at least two rats in that area darting from undergrowth to undergrowth, and a bit further away another rat. (I assume they were rats, as they were not sparrow-size like mice.) Unfortunately, the light at this time was poor and my camera not up to the task of taking clear photos of speeding or lurking rodents in the dismal light, so a better photographer with a better apparatus will have to get the job done.
Be that as it may, this is disgusting evidence of what the "planning" of the landlord, Tishman Speyer, has done to this complex. The allowance of large-size picnics and carefree eating on the Oval lawn (started by MetLife before they left and further exasperated by Tishman Speyer's open-to-the-public attitude toward the Oval), the massive infusion of vegetation which just harbors rodents and their families (which is why MetLife got rid of profuse vegetation in front of buildings), a weekly Farmer's Market at the Oval, and even the careless pickup of dog waste (rats find food in dog feces) are contributing to the infestation of rodents at the Oval, with, no doubt, an expansion of the rat/mice population to other parts of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.
It's really sad, but we are heading toward becoming a slum if something isn't done about this rat problem NOW. Shame on you, Jerry and Rob Speyer, for not having the foresight that this would happen and not doing anything much about it as the problem progressed through the months.