Thursday, September 30, 2010
With the sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village coming up next week, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The companies that will be bidding on this property want to make a very nice, sustained long-term profit. A very nice one, indeed. They are looking to the future and to the massive amount of real estate space that comprises ST/PCV.
- They are not interested in the tenants here. The tenants are, in fact, an annoyance and a hindrance to their plans for this complex.
- They still have to deal with tenants and the politicians that represent the tenants. So they will white lie and black lie.
- Because of the way matters currently stand, they will be forced to make accommodations with both tenants and politicians.
- There should be suspicion about their eagerness to go along with the idea of a condo or co-op conversion for ST/PCV.
- Whatever company or conglomerate of companies wins this complex, they will have secret plans that we will not see, but which may be revealed in the long term, once it's too late.
- This company or conglomerate will offer up to tenants the same smooth talk, b.s. nonsense that Tishman Speyer offered up when they took over ST/PCV. Check Rob Speyer's statement on the right side of this blog to remind yourself. Try not to laugh...or cry...when you read it. [May the spittle running down Rob Speyer's lengthy chin increase in volume and size year after year for the destruction he initiated upon ST/PCV.]
- One wonders how all this activity, on the part of the future owner(s) and the tenants association that's seeking a condo/co-op plan, is diverting, if not destroying, the cause of affordable housing and rent stabilization in this complex and the toughening of tenant rights in the future. What happens here, in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, may be crucial to the history of middle class housing in Manhattan. A wrong step, or several wrong steps, means affordable housing in Manhattan will be gone forever.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
You know, in order to post on other matters, I may have to introduce a new blog--Stuy Town Dog Wars--that will just deal with this pesky issue of non-compliance of the ST/PCV dog rules by a good number of dog owners in this complex. There's important conversion plan news and debate up ahead, the future of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, so let's finalize this dog issue for the moment.
Those of you who read Town & Village saw the above Sept. 23rd front page item about rude dog owners, which continued on for two pages inside the newspaper. Dog owners who are not only rude but aggressive against anyone who reminds them that they are not following the dog rules they agreed to follow when they acquired a dog (or dogs) in this complex. In the article, a resident states that, within ten days, he got into two altercations with dog owners who had their pets off leash. One of the owners, when reminded by the resident of the rule of dogs needing to be on a leash, responded with slurs, including, "You wanna do something about it, faggot?" The other owner admitted, when asked, that she wasn't a resident of Stuy Town, before retracting that statement and replying that she had a right to break the rules!
Worse, when the resident complained to security about the dog owners, he was told that security has been instructed by management to do nothing! A spokesperson for Tishman Speyer (may this company's name and Rob Speyer's name live in perpetual infamy in NYC history) refuted that, stating that security does enforce the rules. [Personally, I've seen occasional enforcement in the Oval grass area, but no place else. That's if security is around, which more often they are not.]
In another case, a Peter Cooper resident says the sight of unleashed dogs is common in PCV. When she confronted a man about his unleashed dog, his response was that the rules did not apply to him. In another incident, when she addressed a man who was walking his unleashed dog around the Oval, the man "started screaming, saying he was going to report me, that I was assaulting him." [Hm, this kind of skewered view where the person in the wrong is the one who feels put upon reminds me of something recent....]
Folks, this kind of lax, arrogant behavior on the part of bad dog owners has got to stop. If security is not up to the task, then we as residents (non-dog owners and dog owners alike) who care about how this space looks and what makes it breathable (disregarding the terrible things done to it by Speyer & Company) have to speak up. I'm not necessarily concerned about a dog along a patch of non-Oval grass, but dogs urinating on flowers and trees (which I've frequently seen), being in flower beds (ditto), being off leash or on retractable leashes stretching out longer than six feet are a definite problem, as are dogs running around in one of the playgrounds. (Today I witnessed a dog taking a crap in the middle of the AstroTurf playground.) If we put the pressure on, bad dog owners will get the message. At least most of them. To remain completely silent, either by not addressing the issue to the dog owner him/herself or to management/security, is just letting this place go to the dogs.
P.S. Perhaps it's too late now with a new management soon taking over (though that shouldn't stop enforcement of the rules), but it may be a good idea for whoever is in charge of the complex now or will be in the future to post in every building a dog rules "reminder" and a warning of dog rule enforcement.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Let's see.... 3 dogs. A dog off leash, and another at the end of a retractable leash that's longer than 6 feet.
Pretty soon, two of these dogs are playing in the garden area of the Oval.
Hm, tasty! Perhaps a little pee-pee will make these grow a bit more?
Ah, a fourth Fido joins his friends!
The garden area was never meant to be an ad-hoc dog run. Many of the plantings are sensitive to canine intrusion and urine. There is NO debate on this. By the rules of Stuyvesant Town, known to Stuy Town tenants, dogs are NOT allowed in the grass or garden areas of this complex. Period.
But wasn't it just wonderful seeing those cute little things play!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Well, Stuy Town management has his name and his own words in the latest Town & Village paper. The guy flat out admits, rather boastfully, that he lets his dog in the lawn space of Peter Cooper Village. "I take the position that my dog has every right to occupy lawn space as do the trees." Well, buster, you may take that position, but it's a position that is against the dog rules here, so you are clearly violating these rules by your own admission.
This guy also must be a fan of retractable dog leashes. "A major advancement in dog walking technology is the retractable long leash." Well, it's not a major advancement in New York City, for if you extend your leash beyond six feet, you are breaking the law. Every single time I see a retractable leash in Stuy Town or PCV, it's owner eventually or automatically extends it beyond six feet. The new owners of ST/PCV should just simply ban the things in the complex.
As a final boast, he claims that his "dog bites back," whatever the hell that threat means. Mister, if your dog bites me, I will receive a nice sum of money from you in a lawsuit--and then I will be able to afford a condo here, while you'll be living in a flop in Jersey . . . with your dog.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Bond holders who own a $3 billion mortgage on Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village will be free to auction off the massive Manhattan apartment complex after a state judge on Thursday rejected an attempt by a junior debt holder to win control of the property.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Judge Richard Lowe III's ruling is a defeat for William Ackman's Pershing Square Capital, which had sought to take control of the complex, commonly referred to as StuyTown.
The ruling lifts a September 10 stay that prohibited CWCapital, which represents the bondholders, from completing a foreclosure auction now set for on October 4.
A sale would be the final chapter on the 2006 sale in which an investor group led by Tishman Speyer Properties bought the 56-building, 80-acre apartment complex, for $5.4 billion, and became the poster child of the U.S. commercial property boom.
Its failure less than three years later is emblematic of the commercial real estate bust. The property is valued at less than half the 2006 price.
Pershing Square Capital Management and Winthrop Realty Services, the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village junior debt holders whose attempt to gain control of the massive residential complex through foreclosure was stymied yesterday by a New York State Supreme Court judge, aren't walking away without a fight. The joint venture officially announced plans last night to appeal the decision, which allowed the complex's senior lenders to proceed with their planned foreclosure auction early next month. In a statement, the venture said it "strongly disagrees with the trial court's ruling and will appeal the decision to the New York appellate court and will seek to stay the mortgage lender's planned property foreclosure. If [Pershing Square and Winthrop are] unsuccessful on appeal, or if the mortgage lender is permitted to foreclosure prior to a successful appeal, the value of [the partners'] investment in the mezzanine loans may be lost." Pershing Square has invested roughly $36 million in the loans, while Winthrop has put in around $10.5 million, the companies said.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
For true New Yorkers, the sight of the Empire State Building is always transfixing and embracing when it's spotted, as a corner is turned or a view finally provided from a merciful street. These vistas when the Empire State Building is in sight have been decreasing in the last decade plus, with the building of innumerable slivers and high-rises in Manhattan. Now, in this disastrous economy, many of the units in these buildings are waiting for a buyer. So guess what's happened in this atmosphere? New York's politicians have decided to allow the building of another high-rise, a true Gigantor (of glass, of course) that will, when completed, forever change the postcard view of what New York has been for decades by blocking or significantly altering a view of the Empire State Building at certain compass points. This building, with the inspiring name of 15 Penn Plaza, will rise 1,216 feet, and be situated 900 feet away from the Empire State Building. Gone will be Hotel Pennsylvania, on the property owned by Vornado Realty Trust, and up will rise 15 Penn Plaza in its place.
Construction union officials supported the initiative (of course), while people like former parks commissioner Henry Stern stated that the 15 Penn Plaza "could do irreparable harm." Community Board 5, whose domain lies in that area, nixed 15 Penn Plaza. And New Yorkers, polled on the building, also were against it. Zoning regulations were also against the building, its size being 56% beyond what's allowed.
Enter the City Council, which had the final say in the matter, the same Council that voted to overturn the people's will (voted on twice by the people) to mandate two-term limits, when Mayor-for-Life Mike Bloomberg lead them on a leash that served his interests, as well as their own. The Mayor was for 15 Penn Plaza, and so were Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. The Council voted on August 25, 47 to 1 to approve the building and do away with the zoning laws that would prohibit it. Sorry to say, our councilman, Dan Garodnick, was part of this pack.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has to be one of the most despicable of New York's politicians (Lord, I will offer you a sacrifice of 100 goats to make sure that she never becomes Mayor) stated: “I’m thrilled to see the potential of thousands of new jobs being created at this project. This proposal is not removing the beauty of the Empire State Building from our skyline, or even diminishing it.” Bullshit.
And guess who was quoted in Bloomberg News? Our old "friend," Bud Perrone. Yes, Tishman Speyer's spokesperson (former?) is now spokesperson for Vornado Realty Trust!
Speaking for Vornado, Bud Perrone stated that the building "will be an outstanding addition to New York’s iconic skyline. We look forward to working with the council to implement strong minority and women participation in the development and construction of 15 Penn Plaza.” Minority participation was the only item of conflict in the City Council debate, not whether the project would get approval. Approval seemed a done deal, perhaps because of the real estate monies pouring into the coffers of New York City's politicians. But we'll get to that in a moment....
I've no affection for the owners of the Empire State Building--Anthony E. and Peter L. Malkin, who seems like assholes when it comes to what lighting the top of the Empire State Building gets, honoring their Chinese lords and masters for the anniversary of the Chinese Communist state, while denying Mother Teresa a night of blue and white. But this is not about the Malkins, Bloomberg, the City Council, or whomever else. This is about New York--Manhattan in particular, and what makes this city a city and not just an island ripe for continual real estate development. It's about the soul and heart of the city, which is, if you haven't noticed, rapidly disappearing through the machinations of rezoning, mouth-watering greed and the monied interest of real estate firms and the unions who muscle the Democratic Party.
Now, with this vote by the City Council setting such a precedent, there is really no reason to hold back on other similar high rises that could potentially encircle the Empire State Building and block it from any view, forever. In fact, with the vote on extending term limits and the votes on rezoning that go on and on across the city, we see that there is really nothing stopping the Mayor or the City Council from doing anything that they want, the will or the voice of the people be damned. Perhaps, when it's realized that not enough Stuy Town and Peter Copper tenants will fall into the trap of acquiring burdensome second mortgages to pay for their proposed condos, the City Council will vote to eminent domain everyone's ass out of here, tear down the complex, and build super luxury high-rises over this ground, which you just know the real estate folks would love to do. And where will you be, if you can't afford these super luxury rents? In one of the outer boroughs or in Jersey, where, their thinking is, you really belong, you middle-class serfs.
And the idiocy of building such a monster building, right in the middle of one of the busiest thoroughfares in Manhattan is beyond incomprehensible--it's stunning. If you think traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, is bad now along 33-34 St at Seventh Ave, wait till this building is completed and fills up with thousands of workers, if that happens (not a sure thing, in the current economy). Add also more New Yorkers who will be pasty-faced, courtesy the huge shadows cast from 15 Penn Plaza, which will block sunlight from the pavement.
The construction of this building, in this locale, is pure insanity.
A view of 15 Penn Plaza and the Empire State Building from the west.
A view of the Empire State Building and 15 Penn Plaza from the east.
It was dismaying that our councilman, Dan Garodnick, voted yes, and that he, rather pridefully, provided quotes for newspapers validating his vote. But, then again, this is the guy that's so up on the disastrous Second Ave. Subway. Googling Dan, we find he's been in some hot water with preservationists: Garodnick's Marx's Brothers building flap. And check here. And this. And this.
Garodnick appears relatively clean from heavy real estate monies to his campaigns, though he's getting a shitload of money from his old law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton and Garrison, which just happens to be representing Stuy Town and PCV tenants.
But Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is, to put it very plainly, a whore for real estate contributions, including monies from Vornado. Are term limits going to end this bozo's influence in New York politics, or will he, like Bloomberg, stay on forever?
Scott Stringer's campaigns get huge contributions from real estate interests. Is it any wonder where he stands on the building of more and more high-rises in Manhattan?
I don't know yet about the accuracy of the commentary on Speaker Christine Quinn following this interesting post, but if that $91,850 bundled from Daryl Roth is true--well, someone with more pull than poor Stuy Town Reporter should do some serious investigating. Daryl Roth, you see, is the wife of Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steve Roth, the same Vornado Realty Trust that owns the present Hotel Pennsylvania and the future 15 Penn Plaza.
Then there are all the donations from investment/money management firms that these politicians get. Why?
Mayor-for-Life Bloomberg? Bloomberg is a disaster when it comes to being the steward of NY's soul. His offhanded, arrogant response against the Empire State Building shows that he considers the ESB just a building and nothing more: "One guy owns a building, and he'd like to have it be the only tall building. I'm sorry that's not the real world." What true New Yorker thinks this way about the Empire State Building? Most Americans do not think this way about the ESB, considering one of America's great iconic symbols. Is Bloomberg that thick that he can't understand the issue? No, Bloomberg is not a stupid man, but he is soulless man. Which is why the true New York is disappearing under his tutelage.
Part of the "reasoning" behind allowing 15 Penn Plaza is that the building will provide construction jobs. Yes, but where are those construction workers coming from? where are the firms located? how much of a cut will union bosses get?
As Steven Sanders opined in the latest T & V, 15 Penn Plaza will bring "permanent jobs with tens of millions dollars in new tax revenue to the city each year." Well, there just happens to be a glut of office space in Manhattan now and in the foreseeable future, and there are many other areas where a building like this (or, better yet, two buildings half the size) could be built. If the economy does not significantly improve in the next ten years, then this will be another albatross around the neck of the city, much like that 1000 years in the making 2nd Avenue subway that politicians seem so delighted with.
Perhaps, to help out New York's troubles, the Saudis or Dubains can buy up the office space in 15 Penn Plaza and add a minaret on top with the blessings of dhimmis like Bloomberg and Scott Stringer and the rest of the City Council. Wouldn't that be a laugh?
Going, going, soon gone....