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Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back?



An ice-skating rink is a pretty big straw, but it seems it has had the effect of mobilizing tenants and making both residents and politicians hyper aware of zoning and the commercialization occurring inside Stuyvesant Town. This week's Town & Village carries a front page article, "Garodnick Questions Legality of Commercial Activity in ST/PCV." Though commercial activities have been happening inside the complex since Tishman Speyer took over as owner and manager, though we've seen the Farmer's Market, Food Trucks, tables for Verizon and Zip Car, charges for the Oval "Essentials," etc, make their way into Stuy Town with some push-back from tenants, this ice-skating rink may just have tipped the balance into getting residents finally fed up with the commercialization inside this property. Or perhaps not. To be seen.

The T & V article carries quotes from councilman Garodnick and management's Adam Rose. Garodnick: "People want to make sure it is legal and I am currently exploring that question. There's a lot of concern over the variety of commercial activities, including the food trucks and now an ice rink and the paid storage facilities." Rose contends that "We believe the minor commercial activity in Stuy town such as food trucks and the ice rink are completely legal, and provide additional amenities and attractions to the vast majority of our residents, especially families." While the legality of commercial activities is yet to be determined by the Department of City Planning (I'm not holding my breath), it has to be stated that the "vast majority" of residents are not using any of the amenities being offered at Stuyvesant Town. We're talking about a resident population of anywhere from 25K to 30K, and certainly you don't even see a tenth of that number using the Oval Essentials, the food trucks, etc, or attending the summer concerts and events, which, at best and on rarer occasions, can draw in a few hundred people.

It can't be stressed enough in these discussions (even T & V skips this point) that these amenities are being used to sell the place to prospective renters, and it must be admitted that some amenities are directed at prospective renters with families, which is a good thing, as we'd like to increase a more stable population rather than the transient student one we see continually growing.

The T & V article reveals more of what Garodnick asked of the Department of City Planning: "Does zoning allow for food trucks to be positioned within the Stuyvesant Town Oval? Management recently announced that they would be installing and opening an ice rink in a Stuyvesant Town Playground. Does the present zoning allow for an ice rink on the property? And if so, would charging for admission or equipment change that?" These are pivotal questions.

Garodnick also stated to T & V that he believes the ice-rink should be complimentary to residents. "An hour a day in a playground that is normally open and free is not a good policy and it will not have a good outcome." Dan must be really hopping mad now, as the updated schedule for free use of the ice-rink allows for just two hours of free use to residents per week, not the previously publicized seven hours per week. (Perhaps I'm wrong, but I smell a slight set-up here, with a "generous" gesture forthcoming that will go back to the one free hour a day schedule.)

A bulging letters column in T & V contains responses from tenants. A couple of tenants are for it, including a familiar voice who calls the rink's detractors "cranky" and "better suited to a gated community in Florida than apartment living in a dense urban environment."

Other letter writers share their concerns, which have also been addressed repeatedly on this blog and Lux's website and Facebook.

The heart-warming surprise comes from an opinion piece by Steven Sanders, who had been our state assemblyman for 28 years. As someone who grew up in Stuy Town, Sanders takes a nostalgic journey in his piece, writing about Playground 10.... "Every kid growing up in Stuy Town or Peter Cooper had 'their' playround and #10 was mine." His article is well worth reading as giving insight into what that playground means and meant. He begins to finish it off this way:

"There are just some places, which are just really special, that corporate America, in such a hurry to make a buck, just does not really get." And: "I may be entirely wrong but I am not sure that there has been an outcry from the residents demanding an ice skating rink which is a very specialized activity that only a relatively few will participate in." Finally:

"When Tishman Speyer bought this community five years ago and over spent literally billions of dollars, they did so in the belief that they could make big changes to our already successful and iconic community that would make it more profitable. In hindsight I am sure they wish that they would have just let well enough alone. So a word to CW Capital and Rose management... 'If it ain't broke don't fix it.'"

Residents should hurry out and get this week's issue of T & V before it gets sold out.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

STR, you do excellent work in running this blog. You obviously put a lot of time and effort (and creativity!) into it. I love the image of the camel! Thank you very, very much for all you do. From a grateful and beleaguered tenant.

Anonymous said...

"Rose contends that "We believe the minor commercial activity in Stuy town such as food trucks and the ice rink are completely legal,"

Glad to read that Mr. Rose admits and agrees that this is the commercial use of the Oval space. Now if only he would look at the Zoning Map, he would see that his assumption of legality is clearly and completely false.

Let's end this nonsense NOW !

Anonymous said...

Rose contends that "We believe the minor commercial activity in Stuy town such as food trucks and the ice rink are completely legal, and provide additional amenities and attractions to the vast majority of our residents, especially families."

Mr. Rose, the best way to appeal to families is to provide a clean, safe, well-maintained and quiet environment in which to raise a family. The "carny-noir" efforts you have made are clearly not aimed at attracting families but rather at turning a quick buck. We know how that turned out the last time around and I suspect you will meet the same fate--and all of us that rent here will, once again, suffer for it.

And let me add, mobile food vending on the property should have ended with the passing of Sam the ice cream man. Increasingly, none of us that live here are maintaining our Good Humor...

Anonymous said...

Andrew MacArthur, Vice President of CW Capital is a stubborn little goat!

He began construction on the rink early when he caught wind we were speaking out against it, now he thinks he's really going to stick it to us by allowing us 2 hours free use per week?

Isn't HE a sensitive little creature.

Fed Up Tenant said...

Under rent stabilization - and every tenant living in STPCV is a rent stabilized tenant - tenants are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their homes. Thanks to the money-making gimmicks dreamed up by CW Capital Offense and Rose Ripoff, tenants here are being deprived of the quiet enjoyment of our homes on a daily basis.

I'm glad to see that Councilman Garodnick is finally looking into whether or not the commercial activities occurring in the interior of the complex are legally zoned for or not. And, while, Adam "I don't give a damn about tenants, only dollars" Rose of Rose Ripoff says, "We believe the minor commercial activity in Stuy town such as food trucks and the ice rink are completely legal, and provide additional amenities and attractions to the vast majority of our residents, especially families.", I am wondering whether or not, if you put enough of these "minor" commercial activities TOGETHER IN THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME, it rises to the level of MAJOR commercial activity.

And, Adam "I don't give a damn about tenants, only dollars" Rose, there is no disputing Stuy Town Reporter comment's that most of the 25,000 - 30,000 tenants living here do NOT partake of the offered "amenities", so, why don't you just be honest, TELL THE TRUTH and admit that all of these commercial activities are an UBER-MARKETING SCHEME dreamed up by you and CW Capital Offense to get new people to move in here. Because that's exactly what it is and you're not fooling anyone that it isn't.

Anyone thinking of living here would be well-advised to look elsewhere. Spare yourself the endless aggravation of dirty, unsanitary buildings, washing machines that don't work well, rats running around on the grounds, mice inside the buildings, dogs being allowed to shit and piss all over the property, etc., etc. and go rent somewhere else. Trust me. You'll be glad you did.

Stuy Town Reporter said...

Thanks, Anon 12:13pm.

BTW, let me repeat something I cautioned about a few weeks ago. Please, please let's not start insulting management or anyone else with plays on names. It's far better to approach this without resorting to that. Please.

Anonymous said...

To "fed up tenant": Are you sure that every tenant in STPCV is rent stabilized? I thought that we had a lot of market rate tenants here who moved into unregulated units. Also, are the students who live in the dorm apartments also rent stabilized? I'm not trying to nitpick, just wondering. BTW, I totally agree with everything else you said. I am an RS tenant of long standing. I'm not old (just a lady of a certain age;-)) and by no means on my last gasp or ready for assisted living/nursing home. However, I find these commercial endeavors of Rose and CWCap to be very offensive and tacky. If I wanted to live in a place where everything was on site like a cruise ship, I would either go to a retirement place in Florida or go back to school and live on campus. Neither appeals to me! What I have always loved about Stuyvesant Town is the quiet, bucolic atmosphere of the grounds and the fact that after a busy day at work and having dealt with all the noise, filth, pushing and shoving on the subways and walking across 14th Street from Sixth Avenue, it has always been so nice to walk into Stuy Town and feel a sense of peace and quiet. That is all going the way of the 50 cent cup of coffee, thanks to TS/Rose/CW (all the same crappy bunch as far as I'm concerned). I hope something can be done to put a stop to these horrible "venues" because there is enough real, worth-the-money entertainment available in New York City without bringing these tacky, small town public square antics into our once-beautiful community.

Helen said...

When is the Tenant's Association planning on "taking a position" on the ice-skating rink? A community space is seized, a commercial activity is being constructed to take its place and they have "no comment" It's disgusting.

Fed Up Tenant said...

On January 22, 2007, a class action lawsuit was filed against MetLife, Tishman Speyer Properties and their associates on behalf of the market rate tenants of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. The suit - known as "Roberts", after plaintiff Amy Roberts - claimed that MetLife was improperly charging tenants "market rate" rents while at the same time receiving real estate tax benefits from the City of New York under the J-51 program, which requires property owners to maintain apartments as rent stabilized during the period in which they are receiving benefits. The lawsuit asked for a monetary award in rent overcharges and damages. Furthermore, it called for the market rate apartments to be reverted to rent stabilization until the expiration of the J-51 benefit period, sometime after 2017.

Plaintiffs won their lawsuit in both the lower court and at the appellate level and thousands of market rate apartments were re-regulated as rent stabilized with each affected tenant being granted benefits - lease renewals under stabilized rates, succession rights - under the Rent Stabilization Law.

Unfortunately, CW Capital has continued to overcharge these tenants when their leases have come up for renewal by not abiding by the rent increases permitted under the rent stabilization laws. The matter has yet to be resolved and is still working it's way through the legal system.

Anonymous said...

Lux posted some photos of the new rink on his Facebook page. What an ugly horror this structure is.

Elaine said...

Come and share your quality-of-life concerns with like-minded neighbors. Saturday morning. 11 am. Stuyvesant Oval Fountain.

Anonymous said...

when I asked why we can't have our Flea Market anymore, I was told that it was stopped because of security concerns after 911. If that's the case, how does Management justify having food trucks, farmer's markets, and a skating rink that are open to the public?

We long time residents and our children looked forward to the Flea Market to connect with neighbors, old school chums, and to unload our cache of family antiques that were making our apartments too small.

So, what is the real reason?
Financial greed?