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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.