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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.
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.
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.