Sunday, October 30, 2011
We will try to get an expedited response that we can share with you.
City Council Member Dan Garodnick
Thursday, October 27, 2011
No, it's not a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening up of the Stuy Town ice-skating rink...yet.
On the issue of the commercialization of Stuyvesant Town? This includes, of course, the ice-skating rink, whose construction will close Playground 10, one of the most frequently used playgrounds by children and young people, this November 1st.
When I contacted our councilman's office, I was told that the money-making ventures inside Stuyvesant Town, from food trucks to the ice-skating rink, were not clearly against the residential zoning laws because of this or that, or something or another. ("Accessory use" was mentioned once.) A recent letter that Dan Garodnick sent to CW Capital and Rose Associates made demands that the rink be open for free to residents and that the noise levels coming from the rink to those residents living near Playground 10 should be minimized. Not one word about zoning, as if Garodnick doesn't feel it's an issue to be even explored.
It seems that ever since the beginnings of construction of the Oval "Essentials" several years ago, Dan Garodnick has had plenty of opportunities to check with whatever legal counsel is available to him about the zoning for Stuy Town, and whether the Essentials, the Farmer's Market, the food trucks, the Verizon/Zip Car/etc tables set up at events, and now the forthcoming ice-skating rink, break the zoning laws for this community. Whether or not zoning laws are being broken, we, the tenants of this community, NEED TO KNOW. Instead, we get vague responses, as if no one in the councilman's office, to include the councilman, has seriously investigated the zoning laws for Stuyvesant Town.
So if Dan Garodnick, a lawyer himself with lawyer friends from his old firm (which represents tenants, btw), still does not know if commercial enterprises inside Stuy Town break a zoning law--the question becomes: Why he doesn't know? What is he waiting for? His term limit to run out?
P.S. It should be noted that Garodnick and the City Council he is part of are responsible for the zoning laws of NYC. So, to plead ignorance here or a lack of clarity.... Well....
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
STR: Do you take frequent tours of PCVST, including its buildings? What do you personally see that you feel needs improvement?
Adam Rose: I am at PCVST a minimum of two days per week as it is the largest and most important assignment that we have. Yes, I regularly walk around the grounds as well as make random visits to buildings in both Peter Cooper Village as well as Stuyvesant Town. About once a month I am asked to arbitrate the most difficult cases of tenant unhappiness, whether it is about a neighbor issue that can’t be solved by the normal process or regarding some defect in an apartment that the resident services and construction supervisors cannot get to completion to the satisfaction of the tenant. As a result, I regularly interact with residents and hear their opinions, something that is very useful to our getting better and better at what we do at the property.It is clear to me that the public areas need to be refreshed. For example, at Stuy Town, the common hallways are ready to be repainted in a brighter and fresher color. If I can get approval from the owner, I would also be very happy to replace the carpets which are nearing the end of their useful life. Peter Cooper would benefit from similar work. One of my pet peeves is light bulbs, and I am pleased to report that we in the middle of a light bulb replacement project that will unify the color (regarding cool white vs. warm white) and improve the corridors. We are also working on a mock-up in Peter Cooper Village of a better way to handle recyclables. You will hear more about this as it is completed.
We know that bulk garbage (and even regular garbage) are issues that need to be improved. This requires a multi-pronged attack since tenant behavior is one aspect, and staffing and supervision is another. We are working with some of the elements of the union contract of our porters to improve flexibility, supervision, and staffing in order to do a better job at cleaning. Unfortunately, I cannot say more about this topic until the contract is fully negotiated. But I am not happy with the overall state of cleanliness. I realize that people wonder why this can’t be solved overnight, but the reality of a complex of this size is that things take more time than we would like them to take.
I also look at the landscaping and grounds, and have a plan to complete the “greening” of the property in 2012. It is unfortunate that Tishman Speyer planted millions of dollars of the wrong things at PCVST, and that the actual solution to many of the issues is the removal of some of that material. But plant beds that are naked dirt are unacceptable, and I know that these will be corrected in the coming year.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
STR: What do you think are some of the major misconceptions tenants can have about your job here in PCVST and about the work that management is doing here?
Adam Rose: First, I want to thank you for providing me with an opportunity to respond to questions about the work that Rose Associates is doing at PCVST. The question is an excellent one, because it goes to the heart of many of the complaints that we receive. The single largest misconception is that we are the enemy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A quick word about Rose Associates: we are an 85 year old firm that has done business in New York City through every kind of cycle and downturn. We would not have thrived if we viewed tenants as the enemy. In fact, we work hard to meet the needs of our tenants and to provide professional service. We do this for 37,000 apartments in Manhattan with some buildings in Brooklyn, Riverdale, and White Plains. Our buildings are full in good times and bad because of the way we do our job.
We do not own PCVST. Some people seem to be confused about that. If I may, I would like to briefly provide some history to put things in perspective. As is well known, Stuy Town and later Peter Cooper Village were built by Met Life. They seemed to have done it more as a public service than as an income producing investment, but that obviously changed in the 1990’s. Pressure was put on insurance companies to earn more income, and those that owned real estate started to run them in a more businesslike way rather than as subsidized housing. Ultimately, it led to the sale of the entire property for $5.4 billion.
The new owner was an experienced office building developer and manager, but knew nothing about residential real estate. The results were not successful, either from a financial standpoint as well as from a tenant relations view, and the property defaulted. The owner is now the Bondholder Trust representing the first $3 billion of debt. The Trust is represented by the Special Servicer, CW Capital.
As you know, PCVST is an 80 acre property with over 25,000 residents. It is one of the most complicated pieces of real estate in the world, and any change or improvement requires a complex coordination of many moving parts. We are well aware of the major problems and have done a lot to solve them, contrary to some of the comments that appear on your blog. There is much more to do, and we are working on that. I will write more in response to additional questions.
Friday, October 21, 2011
While we wait to see what develops with the ice-skating rink that's scheduled to open up in late November at Playground 10, it may be helpful to understand the challenges of building or putting up a rink. The info below is from the Custom Ice Rinks website and NOT meant to indicate exactly what Stuy Town will be getting, so please let's not assume that the challenges will be the same. (For instance, our skating rink could be a comical companion version to the now deceased mini putting green.) But what's below does make for interesting reading, that's for sure.
Private ice rinks are relatively new to most everyone. Here is useful information to help you choose the rink you want and to get it when you want it. Alternatively , please feel free to call Custom Ice anytime, toll free (866) 887-8840.
START EARLY - We get very busy with outdoor ice rinks in the late summer and fall. To ensure your rink is ready to go in November we urge you to book it before the end of June each year. Permanent outdoor rinks (in concrete) are typically constructed in the spring and summer so it is wise to plan far ahead. Lead times vary with season and are 8-10 weeks in spring and summer, but 12-14 weeks in late summer and fall. Call Custom Ice and book well in advance before it's too late.
DETERMINE THE SIZE - Custom ice will custom fit the rink to your available space and needs. While portable rinks can always be made bigger, permanent rinks cannot. When selecting a permanent rink, remember the kids will keep getting bigger. Portable rinks cannot only be enlarged; they can also be installed in concrete later. For families with smaller children (2-6 years), it may be better to start with a smaller portable "Roll-Out-Rink ™ and expand it later. Snow removal, ice maintenance, and installed costs are also important considerations when determining the size of rink best suited for you. See our "Choosing Your Rink Size" bulletin to help you compare Custom Ice rink sizes. We also publish some optimum size rinks that best match the refrigeration equipment sizes. Call Custom Ice for budget pricing or simply to help you decide.
FIND A LOCATION - Sometimes the choice is obvious, and other times there are many possibilities. If you are trying to decide the best location for your rink be sure to consider the following:
a) A more level area will minimize ground leveling and excavation work
b) A nearby or underground water line will reduce effort when flooding the rink
c) Proximity to a warming area or skate change hut can be important
d) Keeping away from large tree roots saves excavation work and prevents damage later
e) If space permits, choose a suitable location off to the side rather than overpowering your yard with the rink in the middle
f) Keep space on all sides for ground maintenance and snow removal
ELECTRICAL POWER - In smaller homes, older home or for larger rinks, your residential electrical service may need to be upgraded for the refrigeration equipment. Check with Custom Ice about the electrical needs of your preferred rink size and then have your electrician compare to what you have. Generally larger rinks require an electrical service upgrade and these costs can vary.
CHECK WITH THE CITY/TOWN - Check with your local municipal permit or by-law office. Every town is different, but you would typically require at least one or more of the following.
a) Electrical permit and inspection - for refrigeration equipment
b) Construction permit - for permanent rink floors
c) Building permit - for rink warming huts or change rooms
d) Green space approval - for permanent concrete rinks replacing grass areas
e) Environmental approval - if the rink antifreeze is an issue
f) Something else - its always safe to check just in case
MORE AT THE ABOVE LINK.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
It's official!... From the Events people at PCV/ST:
The fall and winter season will feature exciting new programs. The PCVST holiday season will be enhanced by a new seasonal ice-skating rink! The new open-air ice rink facility will serve residents of all ages and will feature a variety of special events including ice dancing, figure skating and skating lessons.
The ice rink is scheduled to open on Saturday, November 26th and will remain in operation through February. Additional information on the rink will be made available soon on pcvst.com, including hours of operation, tickets, and a schedule of lessons and events.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
First, came a new guardbooth, cute and nice. And then came the cutting and pulling out of plantings that obstructed the view from the guardbooth--not so nice and leaving the area on the bare side, but probably a necessary evil if you are going to have a guardbooth where once stood a mini putting green with fauna and trees embracing it....
Unfortunate about the loss of what makes the Oval inviting--greenery, foliage, trees--but what can one do? Progress. Next comes the long-promised fir "Christmas" tree, an addition to the plantings on the Oval....
Okay. Fine. Should be very nice. Will grow. But where does management place this baby Christmas tree? Nearby the guardbooth and blocking a view of the Oval and beyond!....
Photo taken near guardbooth, looking out.
So, on one hand, foliage is removed that obstructed a view, and then a tree was set up that obstructs the view. Makes sense, doesn't it?
Saturday, October 1, 2011
There's also this poster for the event, the photo from which amusingly proclaims fail on its own:
As you can see, there's not much of a crowd present, and of the crowd that's there, some are ignoring the screen, like the kid to the right, who's more interested in whatever gadget is in his hands.
But, wait, there's more to the story.
I've wondered for a while about the relationship between management and Town & Village, our area newspaper. T & V is a valuable resource, as it not only writes about and reaches our community, but is able to get actual responses and quotes from management on a number of issues, even if those responses are full of annoying spin and bs.
Well, this week, the last page of T & V contained this photo:
Kinda looks familiar, no? It also shows more of the "crowd" that gathered for this silly event, and tells how the image in the poster was cropped to not give away too much dead space. LOL.
Of course what's not funny is that my building, as well as many buildings in ST/PCV, needs a good interior paint job and some plastering. But I guess that takes second or third or fourth place to running events like NFL ON THE OVAL.