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Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Wishes



Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Holidays!

(Your ST or PCV apartment can look like that, too...with a few modifications!)


STR

Monday, December 19, 2011

TA Telephone Town Hall Meeting



The idea was certainly novel and well executed while I was on the phone: A "town hall" meeting conducted via telephone, with the Tenants Association and several politicos, including the Senior Senator from New York, Charles Schumer. Listeners were allowed to send in their questions, but with over a hundred questions quickly lining up in the queue, most would not have a chance getting answered. Despite this, it was a valiant and probably necessary effort by the proponents of the TA/Brookfield plan (which still hasn't been clarified) to push the process of conversion along and stave off outside interruptions from real estate entities who may want to get in on the bidding.

Senator Schumer hit all the right notes, stressing the middle class and affordability, even making those as part of the "bigger picture" of what this fight is all about.

Still not answered (while I was on the line) is the question of how can one talk of the middle class and affordability when the conversion plan means that people will voluntarily give up their rent stabilized status and enter the market rate, with a significant mortgage (despite being drawn from an insider price), high maintenance fees, high real estate taxes, etc.

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UPDATE 12/20/2011

Official release from Berlin Rosen, the media firm hired by the TA/Brookfield to publicize and promote the condo conversion plan:

Thousands of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Participate In “Tele-Town Hall” To Get Information On Tenant-Led Bid

New York – 2,450 tenants participated in a Tele-Town Hall Sunday evening hosted by The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association with special guest Senator Chuck Schumer.

The town hall, moderated by Council Member and Peter Cooper resident Dan Garodnick, provided facts and answered tenant questions about the TA’s recently announced proposal to partner with Brookfield Asset Management on a tenant-led, non-eviction conversion plan that would protect current residents and permanently maintain the middle-class character of this historic community.

Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined Senator Schumer in participating in the event.

Brookfield representative Jonathan Moore, Tenants Association professional advisors Meredith Kane and Alex Rubin, and elected officials were on hand to answer nearly 25 tenant questions during the 1hr 15 minute town hall. Tenants submitted questions online during the registration process as well as posed them live during the event.

The Tele-Town Hall was sponsored by the entire Tenant Association Board of Directors. On hand to facilitate the event were Tenant Association President Al Doyle, Executive Vice President Susan Steinberg and board members John Sheehy and Jennifer Kops. Other board members monitored the call from their homes and from as far away as California.

“The fact that over two thousand of our neighbors joined the town hall indicates the tremendous level of interest and excitement in our plan to take control of our own future, protect current residents and ensure that Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village remain affordable to middle class families for the long haul,” said Alvin Doyle, President of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association. “Over the next several months as we put together our bid, we will continue to provide opportunities for tenants to get more information, offer input and get involved in this historic process.”

In addition to the elected officials who participated, the town hall was co-sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Borough President Scott Stringer.

Background:

This November, the TA announced an agreement with Brookfield to develop a bid over the coming months to submit to CW Capital – the special servicer that represents senior bondholders. The bid would allow tenants who wish to buy their apartments at reasonable rates while offering protection from harassment or eviction to those who wish to remain as rent-stabilized renters. The proposal would also aim to create a set of permanently affordable rental units with help from government sources, improve maintenance and upkeep across the development, and preserve the community’s existing open space.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Key Card Charges Reversed

From the Tenants Association:

Rose Associates has reversed course and discontinued the new $8.00 per key card charge for key cards provided to tenants for their visitors and employees and they stated that they have credited the accounts of all tenants who may have been charged for a visitor card prior to reaching the four free cards threshold.

The reversal came in response to the Tenants Association’s December 1, 2011 predicate notice sent to Rose Associates by the TA’s Counsel, Tim Collins of Collins, Dobkin & Miller charging that the implementation of an $8.00 per card charge was a reduction in service under the Rent Stabilization Code. News of management’s reversal came in a letter to Mr. Collins, dated December 14, 2011, from management’s General Counsel.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Stuy Town Facebook Page Dedicated to Noise



Noises from loud neighbors, heels with no carpeting, parties past midnight....

STOP NOW, the Obnoxious Loud Noises from a Neighbor

UPDATE 12/14: Adam Rose of Rose Associates is advising residents who have extreme noise problems that are not resolved with calls to the management office/pubic safety to contact him directly via email. He needs to have names and apartment numbers and has a solid track record of handling these troublesome issues. He can be reached at: adam@rosenyc.com

Monday, December 12, 2011

Statement from Tenants & Neighbors on TA/Brookfield Partnership



STATEMENT FROM TENANTS & NEIGHBORS ON STUYVESANT TOWN-PETER COOPER VILLAGE TENANT ASSOCIATION'S PARTNERSHIP WITH BROOKFIELD ASSET MANAGEMENT


Maggie Russell-Ciardi, Executive Director of New York State Tenants & Neighbors, one of the city's largest tenant's rights groups, said:


Tenants & Neighbors believes in the power of tenant organizing. We know that, working together, tenants who live in housing that is at risk of loss of affordability can build consensus around an alternative vision for their building and then spearhead a campaign to make that vision a reality. We commend the tenant association on having taken their community’s future into their own hands and identified a tenant-endorsed preservation partner. There may still be a long and hard fight ahead to ensure that Stuyvesant Town Peter Cooper Village is preserved as affordable housing. But the tenants have both an incredible determination and the power that comes from intensive and relentless organizing and mobilizing- as was made evident by their historic victory in the Roberts case - and we have every confidence that they will continue to succeed. We support them as they strive to ensure that their building is taken out of the speculative market and instead preserved as decent, affordable housing for the long term.”

The NY Times on the Ice-Skating Rink



The story took a while to brew in the offices of the NY Times and seems, therefore, not that relevant regarding the deep concerns tenants had about the ice-skating rink, concerns which seem to have vanished (for the most part), as the rink is nearly noise free and very much enjoyed by kids and their parents.

Anyway, there is more to this piece than just a review of the rink:

Skating Rink Spurs Stuyvesant Town Residents' Latest Fight with Management

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Best Wishes from that Old Gang of Ours

Aside from mailings from Guterman and the TA, Stuy Town and Peter Cooper residents should be getting this card in the mail this week:

Guterman Attacks!

By now you all should have received a letter from Gerald Guterman of Guterman-Westwood Partners. Guterman is interested in STPCV, too, and is, to put it mildly, pissed at the deal between the TA/Garodnick and Brookfield. Among the several accusations leveled against the TA/Garodnick is that the TA assured Guterman that there would be no alliances formed with the TA "until CW was ready to commence a sales process" (which hasn't yet occurred). The TA also had directed Guterman not to directly communicate with tenants while talks were underway.

In case you haven't received the Guterman letter, click on the pages below to read it.







I'm not a fan of any condo/co-op proposal, but it is interesting to see how people are already screwing each other in private, non-transparent deals that concern all of us residents. Let the fighting begin!

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Update 12/9/2011. The TA responds to the Guterman letter.

TA Comments on Guterman-Westwood Letter

Dear Neighbor:

This has been an exciting week for all of us as we begin to put together a bid to CW Capital to protect the long term stability and affordability of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. We feel confident that our partnership with Brookfield will give us the ability to deliver a plan that is both commercially viable and also satisfies our goals.

You may have received a letter recently from Guterman-Westwood Partners LLC describing an alternative partnership with tenants to bid for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. It is important that our community have the facts, and that is why I am sending this follow-up letter.

During this extensive process, we met with the representatives of Guterman-Westwood, as well as with dozens of other potential partners. After consulting with our advisors from Paul Weiss and Moelis & Company, we decided to select Brookfield Asset Management over all the others because they have both the credibility in the real estate market and the commitment and ability to live up to the principles and goals of the Tenants Association. Those goals are clear: to allow residents the choice to either purchase their apartment at an affordable price or to stay on as rent-stabilized tenants; to improve the maintenance and upkeep of our community; to prevent new development on open space, and to ensure that the middle-class character of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village continues for the next generation.

There are some important facts about the Guterman-Westwood proposal that the T.A. and our Advisors find worrisome and that our community needs to consider.

1) Financial Commitment- Guterman-Westwood has outlined a “pricing plan” for tenants to purchase their apartments. We are concerned with the plan’s ability to raise the amount of capital needed to purchase the property from CW Capital. It is critical that any bid put forward by Tenants have the capability to engage CW Capital.

2) Short-Term Partner – When we began this process, the TA committed to finding a long-term partner to help our community buy the property – and then to stick around to help us improve it. Guterman-Westwood has made it clear that they would convert the property and have no continuing involvement

3) Converting to a co-op, instead of a condominium. Guterman-Westwood’s proposal calls for converting Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village into a cooperative. After careful review of this issue, we believe, along with our professional advisors, that a co-op conversion could present problems. For example, a co-op would mean a common tax lot and a master mortgage, increasing the chance of systemic financial distress that could impact every resident in the community. The risk of such financial headaches could make it difficult for residents to find lenders willing to help them buy their apartments during the conversion process. In addition, the costs of repaying a property-wide “master” mortgage would mean higher monthly maintenance charges for residents. A condominium conversion would avoid all of these challenges, allow for more flexibility when we choose our community’s governance structure, and allow us to target property tax abatements directly to rental or “affordable” apartments on a unit-by-unit basis.

We are now at the beginning of what will be a long process of listening to our neighbors, gathering feedback and input, and preparing to put forward a tenant-led bid that will put us in charge of the future of our community. I want to thank the volunteers of the Tenants Association whose work has been critical to our effort, and the thousands of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper residents who have offered their support and ideas throughout this process.

I hope that you will continue to stay informed and involved as we move forward. For more information, please visit our website at www.ProtectSTPCV.org, or feel free to call us at (646) 403-9747.

Sincerely,

Alvin Doyle

Q & A at Saturday's STPCV Tenants Association Meeting

Watch live streaming video from stpcv at livestream.com


Part 1; other parts available here.

Just listening to several minutes of answers makes me depressed. If this plan is accepted, that's it for the struggling middle class and certainly "affordability." I think there is no way to look at this plan otherwise. And, yes, for those who wish to make money off their STPCV apartments by flipping them at good profit, you will be able to do so, except you'll pay some extra tax on the deal. Really, this is a plan for STPCV residents who have money or who want to make money. That's the reality. This is surrender on permanent rent stabilization and the affordable rental unit in Manhattan.

I guess the good news is that it may take years for this plan, if it's accepted by the required amount of tenants and by CWCapital, to be activated. So we wait. And worry.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The STR Plan for Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village



When it came out that the Tenants Association has been brewing a tenant co-op/condo plan for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village with Brookfield Asset Management, several real estate big sharks began circling again around this complex, offering up their own plans or willingness to get into the mix. Well, in the spirit of "if they can do it, why can't I?", this is my plan for Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village:

1) Senior lenders are "owed" 3.5 billion dollars. Says who? And if so, who is to pay? Let's get this straight: Institutions took a financial risk in investing in the biggest real estate deal of the century, the investment tanked and now residents of this complex are to be burdened with a debt of 3.5 billion? Sorry, your mistake for trying to make a killing here, so you LOSE and won't be able to get anything for your loss except perhaps a tax break. Take it up with Tishman Speyer if you have a problem. Sue them if you like for 3.5 billion. But in no way should residents of this community be burdened with paying off the senior lenders in high rents, packed-in apartments for students, gimmicky non-zoned commercial activities, a reduction of services, benign neglect, or some future "deal" to be made with CWCapital. Once residents are free of this burden, even by implication, then our financial future in this complex becomes clearer and more breathable.

2) The city has to take over the running of the complex, at least financially, and establish a partnership with the Tenants Association. Before the Met Life sale, Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village used to turn over a modest profit and the complex can still do so. For their pains, the city would gain something for their coffers. (Let's see the politicos of NYC, the people who so eagerly appear at tenant rallies and meetings, vote against the idea of the city making sure ST/PCV is truly run for the ideals of "the middle class" and "affordability" by letting the city become the complex's owner.) The TA would be charged with selecting someone to manage the actual day to day workings of complex, and that entity would be responsible to the TA, and by extension, to the tenants, for the quality of the work they do, which includes the quality of the security force.

3) Full and genuine rent stabilization in this complex has to be a right and tenants have to focus on working toward strengthening tenant protections across the board in New York. No more of this "realistic" bs (convenient as a scare tactic to get tenants to give up current rent-stabilized apartments) that tenant protections are going to disappear, so we may as well go for the best deal we can, which includes voluntarily accepting rent-stabilized units turning into market rate apartments. Tenant protections laws, to include permanent rent stabilization, have to be the primary goals of every rent stabilized tenant living in the city and every tenant association that represents them.

4) All apartments in ST/PCV are apparently rent stabilized, but at the same time we have market rate prices on many apartments. How in the hell did that happen? There has to be a complete revaluation of high-priced apartments with pricing that reflects the general pricing of apartments that have not turned "market rate." The only allowance would be a modest addition fee of living in a refurbished apartment. Even an extra $300-500 per month charge would be a savings for tenants paying market rate prices, as their monthly rental bill would be cut in half from its current high. If the rents here were truly in the rent stabilized category, there'd be a complete occupancy of rental units here, with a waiting list to get in, and a decent selection process of prospective tenants, just like in the "good old days."

5) No more transient tenants from schools. Transient tenants create garbage, pressurized wall mazes, and destabilize the community, creating a class of people who do not care about the past, present or future of ST/PCV. Bye-bye NYU, New School, etc. We want families and working people here, whose intentions are to stay for a good number of years and preferably for a much, much longer time, setting up roots in this place as many of us have done. Such tenants, replacing the transients, will create a vigorous new body that will become active in tenant affairs and fully support rent stabilization because this is their home and not a dorm or a hotel. These are people we want here, the solid middle class who will fight for the middle class and not take bull from anyone--politicos and monied real estate/asset management companies combined.

Any other plan that deviates in large part from the above, to include co-op and condo conversions, spells the end to the true middle class here and affordability and paves the way for the complete transition of Manhattan into a Bloombergesque vision of highrises fronted by chain drug stores and banks--a Manhattan inhabited by the wealthy and/or their student sons and daughters--and the eradication of the charm, gusto and fighting spirit of what still is the greatest city in the world.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Power to the 99% or to the 1%: The Partnership Between the TA and Brookfield



Once again, the ST/PCV Tenants Association is trying to place a bid on acquiring Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. This time, the TA has a partner: Brookfield Asset Management.

At the public press conference on Wednesday, November 30th, Councilman Dan Garodnick struck all the right notes: much was mentioned, and stressed, about a "non-eviction" plan and "the middle class" and "affordability." But is a deal that will require of tenants a six-figure number in mortgage loans, with maintenance fees that could equal or surpass their current rent, really affordable and a secure base for whatever middle class remains in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village?

Let's admit from the outset that self-interest plays the most important role for everyone concerned--tenants, buyers, non-buyers, and asset management companies. While the arguments can be buttressed by lofty ideals about the middle class and apartment affordability, the bottom line is that everyone will be looking after their own interests when it comes to the sale of ST/PCV. If you are a ST/PCV resident with money to burn and believe that acquiring an apartment here at a low insider rate is good for you as an investment or for your family's future, you will be for the deal; if you are a tenant who cannot afford to pay for, or get a mortgage for, whatever the final asking price will be, or if you don't see any value in paying so much money when you are in a rent stabilized situation, then you will be against the deal. As for asset management companies...sorry, but I don't believe in the tooth fairy or beneficent benefactors. These companies want to make money, and the complex that's Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, stretching from 14 st to 23 st and 1st Ave to the FDR Drive, is, despite all the troubles and turmoil here, a huge prize that many are after, and NOT because they want to maintain rent stabilization and the middle class in Manhattan. At the Wednesday press conference, Barry Blattman, the senior managing partner of Brookfield, stated that ST/PCV is "the kind of real estate that our company covets." Thanks for warning us.


Brookfield's Barry Blattman

(I have to mention that I have no hardcore distrust of Brookfield, aside from my tempered cynicism regarding any real estate/asset management company being on the side of tenants. Barry Blattman seems like a nice guy and Garodnick believes that Brookfield's intentions toward tenants are "benevolent." I did a check of Brookfield's donations to NYC candidates for the past decade, and the company appears fairly reputable in who they give their money to. Note: They donated considerable money to Thompson in the last mayoral election and completely stiffed Bloomberg, though such a face-slap could be based on some personal/business clashes in the past.)

All this said, it would be petulant to dismiss outright whatever plan is still brewing amongst the key players here. According to the Town & Village, the TA and Brookfield share these goals: "a conversion plan that would allow tenants to remain on as stabilized renters if they choose and give those who wish to buy an attractive insider's price." Other goals: "maintain affordability and stability of the community with tenants free of harassment, keeping the open spaces open and improving maintenance and upkeep of the property." T&V adds, "To maintain stability, the plan includes keeping some of the apartments permanently affordable through funding from government sources." Remarkably, this latter point contradicts all the politico and TA speeches about the "middle class" and "affordability" and proves that the complex will NOT be affordable should the plan go through. Another source mentions a figure of 10% for the number of apartments being kept in affordable range. If that pathetically low percentage is true, and tenants accept the deal, then the death of the middle class and "affordability" will come to this complex much sooner than was ever anticipated.


Garodnick, Stringer, Quinn, Duane

A significant part of the plan involves Brookfield, a company that owns over 20 million square feet of property in Manhattan. According to T&V, Brookfield would be the sponsor of the plan, "putting together the money for the purchase, offering the units for sale, and then remaining the landlord and manager of the unsold apartments." At first and even second glance this arrangement means that Brookfield would be in charge, much like Tishman Speyer was in charge, but with the TA's blessings and some (?) input from a co-op/condo board should tenants win the right of apartment ownership.

For tenants wishing to make money, the TA and Garodnick are pushing for some type of cap on tenant owners flipping an apartment for considerable profit. While seemingly good for "affordability," such a stipulation will, no doubt, dampen the enthusiasm of some tenants who are already envisioning making a killing on the deal.

But right now, there is no detailed plan, just a vague template with several constructs ready to be argued over, filled in, amplified.


Center: TA's president, Al Doyle, talking with Brookfield's Barry Blattman

What concerns me most is that I see no way as to how "middle class" and "affordability" can be mentioned in the same breath with Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village if this still-brewing plan goes through. Whoever pays off 3 billion plus to the original senior lenders that CWCapital represents will be stuck with making up that 3 billion somehow, and I get the feeling that tenants and prospective tenants will be the ones ultimately footing the bill, while at the same time paying high maintenance costs on a property and buildings that are not deluxe or luxury living.

We also have to ask ourselves this question: Do we see, in the distant future, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village as it is now? Do we see the same buildings standing here, the ones without central air-conditioning or heating, no doormen, fabricated ugly project-style after the Second World War? Or do we see something else: almost a mini-city of sleekly designed high-rises with doormen and the most contemporary modern conveniences? If the latter picture IS going to be the reality, then is it much better to start now and approach it in a straight line? Or are we going to approach this reality (if such it will be) in a zigzag line with continual squabbles, buy-ins, buy-outs, this management/that management, tempers flaring, blood pressures rising, and continual lack of certainty with tenants separated by rental status and potentially fighting each over a variety of monetary and maintenance issues? Ultimately, will everything that's here get replaced by eminent domain, either the genuine kind (upon which ST/PCV was built) or the more devious kind where the property or chunks of it will be bought out by monied interests who will, after offering tenants a sizable buyout, start knocking down the buildings one by one to erect a city of the future. (If we don't want to see this vision a reality, then the TA's efforts to have ST/PCV landmarked may not be such a mad Quixotic idea, after all.)

There is this thing called "progress" and Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, in the judgement of some, may be standing in the way. But that other thing, "self-interest" is going be continually in the game, whether people want to admit it as the most vital component or not.

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Read into these photos what you will:





(Thanks to NoSpinZone for the photos.)

DON'T FORGET THAT TOMORROW, SATURDAY, DEC. 3rd, the TA will hold an important meeting at Mason Hall, Baruch College, 23rd St. & Lexington Ave. at 1pm. Politicos and a Brookfield representative will be present! For more details visit www.stpcvta.org

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Press Conference Today - 11AM, 1st Ave & 16th St.

TENANTS TO BID FOR STUYVESANT TOWN - PETER COOPER VILLAGE

Partnership with Brookfield Asset Management Aims To Keep Historic Community Affordable for Middle-Class

NEW YORK – The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association will announce on Wednesday a partnership with Brookfield Asset Management to submit a tenant led-bid to purchase the storied development, protect current residents and permanently maintain the middle-class character of the historic Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper community.

The proposal from the Tenant Association and Brookfield Asset Management would allow tenants to buy their apartments at reasonable rates while protecting those who wish to remain as stabilized renters from harassment or eviction. The proposal would also aim to create a set of permanently affordable rental units with help from government sources,
improve maintenance and upkeep across the development, and preserve the community’s existing open space.

Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village is home to more than 25,000 residents.

The tenants and leadership of Brookfield Asset Management will announce their partnership at a press conference at 16th and First Avenue at 11:00 a.m.

Who: The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, Councilmember Dan Garodnick, and Brookfield Asset Management

When: Wednesday, November 30th, at 11 a.m.

Where: At the corner of 16th St and First Avenue

What: Tenants of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village and Brookfield Asset Management announce partnership for a tenant-led bid to buy Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, protect residents, and keep community affordable

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oh-oh....

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/nyregion/stuyvesant-town-and-peter-cooper-tenants-hope-to-buy-apartments.html

For the second time in six years, the tenants at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are seeking to buy the financially troubled complexes, which have served as a leafy refuge for generations of middle-class families in high-priced Manhattan.

The tenant association hopes to convert the adjacent complexes, with 11,232 apartments, into a condominium or cooperative under a plan in which residents could buy their apartments or remain as rent-regulated tenants.....

The tenant association is holding a forum on Saturday to solicit recommendations and to explain the plan to residents of the complexes, which sit between 14th and 23rd Streets and First Avenue and the East River. The association and Brookfield have not worked out the details of a proposal, but several people involved in the discussions said that an unspecified number of apartments, perhaps 10 percent, would permanently remain as rentals. Residents could buy their apartments at a discount with restrictions on reselling, or at near-market rates with fewer restrictions.....

MORE AT THE ABOVE LINK.

Another article about Brookfield and the Tenants Association:

http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2011/11/29/brookfield-making-a-go-for-stuyvesant-town/

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kips Bay Ex-Con Arrested for Stuy Town Muggings

NY Daily News:

A brazen mugger who attacked two elderly men in Stuyvesant Town this month has been arrested, police said Monday.

Ex-con Henry Huggins, 51, was charged with robbery and burglary in the two crimes, which left one victim with a fractured shoulder.

Huggins is a career criminal with 11 prior arrests for robbery, forgery, selling drugs and criminal trespassing, among other counts, records show.

Huggins, of E. 30th St. in Kips Bay, was most recently released on parole in July after serving a sentence for grand larceny, according to the state Department of Correctional Services website.

Huggins is to be arraigned Monday in the Nov. 23 attack on William Shafer, 71, of Stuyvesant Town and the Nov. 3 mugging of a 77-year-old resident of the same Manhattan housing complex.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stuyvesant Town Residents On Edge After Violent Muggings



NY1 REPORT:

Residents were on edge in Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan on Sunday, following violent attacks on two elderly men there earlier this month.

Police released surveillance video of one of the incidents that happened Wednesday.

The suspect is seen attacking a 71-year old man in the building's lobby.

The older man's money was stolen and he suffered a broken arm.

Police say they believe the same suspect also grabbed a 77-year old man in a building entrance on November 3, attacked him and robbed him.

Some residents told NY1 the neighborhood needs better security, while others said it was a matter of vigilance.

"They have money to spend on ice skating rinks and things people don't need, but apparently they don't spend it on security," said a Stuyvesant Town resident.

"We need foot guards, the patrolmen around again," said another resident.

"The basic thing is you have to be careful and you have to watch what's happening around you," said a third.

"This is one of the safest places you could live in New York City," said a fourth resident. "I feel comfortable, in spite of the report of the robberies. I would think to be more aware of what is happening around you."

According to crime statistics, robberies have increased 5.6 percent in the neighborhood in the last year.

The suspect is described as in his 40s, about 5-feet-8-inches tall and 180 pounds.

Anyone with information on the attacks should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Winter Wonderland Ice Skating Rink Feedback



It's beginning tomorrow, from 9am to 9pm (with filming around the area, no doubt, so beware if you don't want to be used for promos.) Comments are welcome, pro or con. I'm particularly interested in hearing from those residents who live around Playground 10 and may be affected by any noise coming from the rink.

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11/26/11 UPDATE: A STR reader sent in these following photos from today's activities. I've cropped a few and whited out faces.

First off, the important "Filming Taking Place in This Area" notice:



No refunds in case of weather conditions. And don't forget you are skating at your own risk:



Security abounds, but no checking of key cards for "residents and their guests":



More security, on the other of the rink:



This banner will look beautiful in the video promo:



Please tell me they played at least one ABBA song:



Skates, anyone? $7 rental:



OMG, junk food vending machines! I predict these and their brothers are going to find a place in refurbished former trunk rooms once that issue gets settled in favor of CWCapital.



More photos!!!

Spiderman trying to get info from penguin about the recent muggings of senior citizens in Stuy "Gramercy Park" Town:



Not to worry. Stuy Town's Public Safety (ie, Security) is on the case:



Councilman Dan Garodnick (in orange shirt and blue tie) performs in front of the crowd at opening day celebrations.... (Oh, just joking, Dan.)



That's it for now. Have a Happy Winter Wonderland!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guest Key Card Charges


As if the troubles here in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village were not enough, we learn that now guest key cards will cost $8 per card. When the key card system was set up, a certain amount of guest key cards were to have been issued for free.

According to the TA: "This policy is counter to the DHCR order and will need to be looked at." The DHCR is the Department of Housing and Community Renewal.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

However... Farmers Market Still There



If you thought that the disappearance of the Joyride food truck this week indicated that the Farmers Market would also be missing this Sunday, as a result of compliance with what the Dept of City Planning and Councilman Garodnick stated weeks ago that such commercial enterprises are not allowed inside Stuy Town--you were wrong! The only thing missing from the photo above is a giant middle finger sign to the city's zoning regulations.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Joyride Truck No More



It may be too early to tell, but it looks as if we will not be seeing Joyride any more at the Oval. The company's main page used to list Stuy Town in "Our Spots" for six of seven days of week, but now every location on that list is "Closed 4 Winter." The last Tweet on the company's Twitter page (about the truck's presence in Stuy Town) is from eleven days ago. There have been no new Tweets since then. I didn't notice Joyride here yesterday, and the truck was scheduled to be present at Stuy Town for the rest of the week.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Letter from the Department of City Planning

Just so everyone knows the legalities here. Letter from the Department of City Planning to Councilman Dan Garodnick. Dated November 1st. (Click on letter to increase size.)





The TA has a PDF link to this letter here.

Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village Zoning Map:



Joyride food truck doing commercial business in R7-2 zone inside Stuyvesant Town. Date November 11:



By now, everyone (CW Capital, management, Joyride and concerned tenants) are aware of what the Department of City Planning wrote and Councilman Dan Garodnick's response on Tuesday, November 8th -- ("With regard to other commercial activities – such as food trucks and greenmarkets – that are not permitted in an R7-2 residential zone, we expect CW Capital/Rose Associates to bring themselves into compliance with the law.")

So the question stands: Why is a food truck allowed to continue to operate in a zone that does not allow for its presence???

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UPDATE, 11/12/11. We live in interesting times here in Stuy Town. Re: calling the 13th precinct. The police claim there is nothing they can do, as long as management accepts the presence of a food truck or any other commercial activity taking place within Stuyvesant Town. The only other option is to take the issue to civil court. The ball is now very much in the hands of our councilman, Dan Garodnick.

I have to say that it's pretty startling to have "the powers that be" (CW Capital and/or management) purposefully go against the zoning of Stuyvesant Town and NYC Department of City Planning and this district's councilman, elected by the people of this area. Says it all, I think.

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UPDATE, 11/12/11. The Stuy Town Living site has more information about calling 311:

Continue to call 311 when you see a Joyride truck and then call Dan Garodnick’s office with the complaint number. Today a tenant advocate called 311 regarding the presence of the Joyride truck in the Oval and asked to speak with a supervisor regarding any confusion over the calls. When filing a complaint your request should specifically say: Commercial activity in a residential zone. Additionally, tell them to file a complaint with the Department of Buildings.

The Department of Buildings does not work as quickly as Dan Garodnick’s office but don’t be discouraged. You’re not throwing a message in a bottle out to sea, these complaints DO count.

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Update, 11/13/11. So in the morning I hear Joyride's hum from hell across the Oval, but I don't see the truck. Where is Waldo? Well, after a tour of the Oval, I see Joyride parked, its engine idling, in front of 521 14 St and fuming up the place.



Later the truck joins the Green Market, the other commercial activity taking place in Stuy Town's non-commercially zoned area.




I note a couple of management big shots around, too, very protective of Joyride, as if concerned that the truck may vanish through some magical wand waving from a councilman or cranky resident. All is right with the world in Stuy Town, however. Market and Joyride in place. Business as usual.

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Another contact for zoning complaints: the Dept of Buildings Commissioner, Robert LiMandri, at robertl@buildings.nyc.gov.

It's Melting ... and Autumn Leaves ... and JoyRide



Reportedly the NYPD turned up last night at Playground 10, where Stuyvesant Town's controversial new ice-skating rink is being finished, and whatever noise complaint was the impetus, it mandated the shutting off of a generator that kept the ice inside the rink solid. This morning the ice-rink was flooded, with water seeping out beyond the rink's actual walls.



Another problem: Autumn leaves. Yes, they do fall, and they fell all over the rink. Clean-up time and expense.

If this ice-rink has a fixed budget, the budget will certainly go over, with what is turning out to be a fiasco for CW Capital in both financial and publicity terms. (NY's newspapers are carrying articles about the controversy, and yesterday the city's local CBS News aired a segment about the rink twice.)

Oh, and despite the pronouncement from the Department of City Planning and Councilman Dan Garodnick that the interior of Stuy Town is not zoned for food trucks, the Joyride truck turned up both yesterday and today.



Regarding the presence of this food truck, residents should contact Dan Garodnick's office at 212-818-0580. If the food truck is making noise, you can also call 311. You will receive a Service Request number, and the matter will given over to the 13th precinct.

Location-wise, the food truck is currently near 1 Stuyvesant Oval, 10009. You can also call the precinct direct at 477-7411 and ask to speak to the Community Affairs Officer. Management is trying to make sure that the Joyride truck is not making noise, but at this point the issue is not noise, per se, but the illegal nature of a commercial enterprise like this food truck being situated in a residentially zoned area. That is the primary complaint.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's Next

With a win for tenants who are against the commercialization of the Oval, we can expect some type of pushback from “the powers that be.” The most obvious one will be to try to get Stuyvesant Town rezoned for commercial use. We, as well as our representatives, have to be vigilant to make sure that there will be no zoning change in the R7-2 classification this complex now holds.

The powers that be will try to gain tenant support by rallying around the “Green Market flag,” but it must be remembered that the only way the Green Market can make a comeback in southern grass area of the Oval is if Stuy Town’s zoning is changed. While having the Green Market move to another location, or disappear altogether, may be an inconvenience to some, having the Green Market legally remain where it was situated will mandate a zoning change. The greater picture is that, if such a zoning change becomes successful, commercialization of Stuyvesant Town's open spaces will become legal and the powers that be will have no restraint in introducing newer ways of inserting commercial entities within Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Indeed, such a “green light” will surely see more of our open free spaces, which we value greatly, reduced to money and publicity making gimmicks, furthering the aesthetic devaluation of our environment.

Though our Tenants Association has taken some criticism, I think it's imperative that we, tenants, have to stick together so that we can present an organized front and speak with a greater voice to the powers that be and even to our political representatives. Ultimately, it was the cooperation of several entities (from voices on websites, to the TA, to Councilman Garodnick and his office) that led to this current victory over the commercialization of Stuyvesant Town.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Food Trucks and Green Markets NOT Permitted in Stuy Town! Ice-Rink May Not Be Considered "Accessory" Use if Paid Admission and Open to Outsiders

STATEMENT FROM COUNCIL MEMBER DAN GARODNICK

Re: Commercial Activity in Stuyvesant Town

The Department of City Planning (DCP) has responded to the questions I posed to them about commercial activities in Stuyvesant Town.

With regard to the planned ice skating rink, DCP has advised that, due to “the unusualness of this circumstance,” we should seek the review of the Department of Buildings (DOB), which enforces zoning regulations. My office has already reached out to the DOB for a final word on whether an ice skating rink, for a fee, conforms to the R7-2 zoning regulation applicable in Stuyvesant Town.

Further, I have asked the DOB for a complete review of the construction permits and the work that is actively being performed – including the electrical wires being strung through trees – to ensure that any construction activity is being conducted without risk to residents or workers, and within appropriate hours of the day. We expect the appropriate enforcement of any violations.

I have also asked the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a test of the sound that will be emitted from various ice machines in order to ensure compliance with the noise code, and to confirm the safety of chemicals that appear to be used in connection with the rink.

With regard to other commercial activities – such as food trucks and greenmarkets – that are not permitted in an R7-2 residential zone, we expect CW Capital/Rose Associates to bring themselves into compliance with the law. I am happy to offer the assistance of my office in helping to relocate the Stuyvesant Town Greenmarket to an area around the property that would be both legal and convenient for the many residents who enjoy making use of it.

Residents who want to know what you can do to expedite enforcement on the ice rink or any other issue are advised to call 311 and to contact my office with your 311 reference number which will be helpful to us in following up. Residents should also feel free to contact my office at (212) 818-0580 with questions or concerns on any of these matters.

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STR here: Thanks to Dan Garodnick and his office for pursuing the legality of commercial activities inside Stuyvesant Town. It appears that the ice-skating rink WAS the straw that broke the camel's back. The powers that be just went too far on this. A strong spotlight came on not only the rink, but the other commercial activities that have been going on in the Oval. The ice skating rink issue is not yet settled, but it appears that if admission is charged and the rink is open to outsiders, the rink cannot be considered "accessory" usage.

The pity is that the relatively popular Farmer's Market is a causality here (at least within the confines of R7-2 zoning), but the blame rests purely on the powers that be who were speeding up the commercialization occurring inside Stuy Town while ignoring the concerns of tenants or the Tenants Association.

As for the Food Trucks, I'm going to send off a message to Joyride, who can now take a joy ride someplace else.

In summary, this is a substantial victory for what Stuyvesant Town has stood for and what it can hopefully stand for again.

Please, to whomever is "the powers that be"--all tenants want is for their buildings and the property to be clean and attractive, and for the traditional duties of a landlord to a tenant (heat, water, neighbor noise control, etc) to run smoothly. That's it! And so simple, without excessive expenditure.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And now for something completely different....

Today was a wonderful autumn day in which one can take pleasure in the nature surroundings that we still have in Stuy Town.







And during this time, I sat down by the fountain and couldn't help but be thankful that there was no intrusive noise coming from an ice-skating rink or even a food truck, which was absent from the Oval.

More from Councilman Dan Garodnick

A reader spoke with Garodnick and sent in this message:

I spoke with Councilman Dan Garodnick this morning and here is a summary of what he had to say.

He is addressing the skating rink issue on all city fronts. He has contacted The Department of City Planning (zoning) and The Department of Buildings (permits) and will be going to the City's Department of Environmental Protection, which enforces the noise code, shortly. There is some sort of a permit on file with The Department of Buildings. He said that he expects to hear back from The Department of City Planning and more fully about the permit from The Department of Buildings sometime this week.

He is suggesting that everyone contact 311, make your complaint, get a complaint number and send it or call it in to his office so he can follow-up/track complaints, if necessary. You can telephone 311. You can go online to www.nyc.gov/311. You can also text your complaint to 311NYC (311692). The City does not charge for this service but your wireless charges may apply.

I just called 311; 311 tried to transfer me to 911, but 911 turned me over to the Fire Department instead. I made my complaint about the electrical wiring that is being run out of 19 Stuyvesant Oval - and also out of the EXPOSED OPENING of a LIGHT POLE in front of 19 Oval - and strung up into the trees and snaked over to Playground 10. The Fire Department said that it would send someone to investigate.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Saturday 11AM Meeting at the Oval



From the Lux Living Facebook, an e-mail he received:

Is the new ice skating rink the last straw for tenants already upset with commercial activities in Stuyvesant Town’s parks? Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village tenants who are tired of businesses operating in the property’s park space are meeting by the Oval fountain Saturday morning at 11AM to discuss what they can do to stop these noisy and intrusive gimmicks.

UPDATE: A good crowd of tenants gathered around in front of the ice-skating rink to listen to speakers address the commercialization that's happening inside Stuy Town, and particularly what's going to be occurring at the forthcoming ice-skating rink. The main speaker for most of the time was Bill (Otto?), the apparent ringmaster of the event, along with his wife, who was passing out petitions to sign. The crowd got larger as the event proceeded, as passerby residents (who knew nothing of the meeting beforehand) stopped to listen and sign petitions. (Flyers posted in lobby buildings alerting tenants to the meeting were quickly taken down by maintenance staff.)

Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera with me, but other residents did, so I'm sure we will see photos from the event turn up soon. Town & Village's Sabina Mollot was present, too, taking photos, jotting down what was being said, and interviewing protesters. Expect a T & V article on this meeting.

Two-sheet handouts were available, listing "Good Neighbor" policies concerning the ice-skating rink based on management's own "Good Neighbor" definitions.

A few people questioned why there were no work permits posted anywhere around the forthcoming ice-rink. Perhaps a temporary (albeit lasting 3 months) structure doesn't need one, but it was an interesting query I hadn't heard before.

A couple of suggestions from yours truly that may already be under consideration:

1) This newly-formed group should have a web presence, where basic info can be posted. Even a no-cost blog would be beneficial.

2) There are several online petition sites that can harbor a "Say No to Commercialization of the Oval"-type petition.

3) Have volunteers go door-to-door in their buildings to sign the paper petition.

Contact for this new group is quietoval@gmail.com

On a personal note I was very heartened to see this event actualized and that tenants are concerned about what has been happening in this complex with its ever-expanding commercialization. We need to get the word out to more tenants, many of whom are unaware of the issues involved and that the commercialization of the Oval will continue and expand even more. As if to stress the point of the importance of reining in such commercial activity, the awful hum from the Joyride food truck across the Oval could be heard while the meeting was in progress. (This truck has not been hooked into Stuy Town's electricity for a number of days now, whether by malicious f.u. intent or some other factor like a malfunctioning cable.)

I want to also add something else. I noticed that Bill and his wife have a dog, and that at some point in the life of my blog, the both of them must have gotten pissed off at my dog postings. I will also note that there was once a rift between Lux and myself (now healed completely, btw). Despite whatever disagreements the group of us may have had, the issue of the commercialization of this complex has united us, as it is beginning to unite tenants. And that is a very good thing, indeed.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What the Rink is Going to Look Like

As progress continues on Stuy Town's ice-skating rink, we are beginning to see the design take shape. At the southern end a covering structure is being put in place that, I assume, will house the skate rental space and perhaps the cafe that's being promised. This structure takes up about a third of Playground 10, making the skating area that much smaller.



The space for skating may be even smaller than that as there's a cooling system at the northwestern corner:



So that leaves this space for actual skating:

And in other news....

STATEMENT FROM COUNCIL MEMBER DAN GARODNICK

Re: Victory on Retroactivity in Roberts v. Tishman Speyer Case

“The court today made official what we have known all along – that the Roberts v. Tishman Speyer case can be applied retroactively. The harm done to Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents extends years into the past, and today’s victory will help ensure that they can be made whole for their landlords’ flouting of the law.

“Recent precedents, such as Gersten v. 56 7th Ave, prepared us for this result, but making it official still comes as a moment of relief and celebration for the thousands of tenants whose apartments should never have been deregulated, and who never should have been forced to pay market rents to stay in their homes.

“Today’s win will add great weight to the damage claims of those residents. With this most recent round of vindication in court, we hope and expect that the parties can come to a resolution on that matter so that the tenants can finally get the appropriate compensation for their landlords’ years of overcharges.

“I congratulate Amy Roberts and her co-plaintiffs and their attorneys for securing this important decision for our community.”

Council Member Dan Garodnick represents Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, where he is a lifelong resident.

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And from Bloomberg.com:

A New York state appeals court affirmed a lower court’s decision to deny a motion by MetLife Inc. (MET) to dismiss a class-action lawsuit brought by tenants of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

The decision, by the state’s Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed an Aug. 5, 2010, ruling by New York State Supreme Court Justice Richard Lowe III to deny a motion to dismiss the case against MetLife, the complex’s former owner.

The 80-acre Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village development is Manhattan’s largest apartment complex with more than 11,000 units. MetLife sold the complex in 2006 to Tishman Speyer Properties LP and partner BlackRock Realty LP for $5.4 billion.

Tenants sued MetLife and Tishman in 2007, claiming the companies improperly forced at least a quarter of the apartments to pay market rates while receiving more than $25 million in tax breaks.

Lowe dismissed the tenants’ original lawsuit in 2007, and the appeals court later reinstated the suit and ruled on the tenants’ behalf. The tenants are seeking more than $215 million in damages.

Tishman Speyer and BlackRock missed a $16.1 million debt payment due in January 2010 and said they would cede control of the complex to lenders after the value fell and they were prevented from >raising rents.

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And this.