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Monday, January 2, 2012
The Year Gone, the Year Ahead
It's been another emotionally destabilizing year for Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village residents, with much of the focus being on the surprising news that the Tenants Association had partnered with Brookfield Asset Management to set the first stage of a condo buyout of the property. The debate, typically vigorous and with little factual information to chew on (the details of the condo plan are being worked on), captivated most tenants who have an interest in the community. Some became worried, some became angry, others suspicious, and then others were thrilled at the prospect of ownership. Whatever happens, one fact seemed lost: CWCapital, the current owner of the complex, has yet to respond to any forthcoming offer from tenants and Brookfield, and may well hold onto the property for a better deal in the future. So all the excitement, pro and con, could be for naught.
This year also saw the Department of City Planning clearly and unequivocally state the food trucks that have been parking at the Oval and the Farmers Market are not zoned to be in this area. The impetus behind clarifying the zoning at the Oval did not, unfortunately, come from either the Tenants Association or our councilman Dan Garodnick, but from online discussions among tenants and subsequent pressure put on the councilman to finally get to the heart of the matter. Which he did by presenting the situation to the Department of Buildings.
While it is understandable that a portion of tenants do not mind or even favor these commercial enterprises inside Stuy Town, the legality of the situation had to be made apparent and not remain nebulous, as, in the case of the Farmers Market, it had been for years. Worrying is that NOTHING was done until certain tenants demanded, and kept on demanding and demanding, an answer as to the zoning of the Oval. The overall issue is, then, what other illegalities, small or significant, are occurring in this complex that neither the TA, nor Garodnick, are looking into or even questioning. Oh, things like the years of housing "dorm" units in the complex and refurbishing apartments, with possible "extra rooms" (ie, pressurized walls) that may--or may not--be questionable in the strict eyes of the law. And we still await one more word on the ice rink, though this issue now seems to have evaporated. And how in the hell did the Roberts victory, which reverted previous market-rate apartments in ST/PCV to rent-stabilization status, not mean a significant reduction in rent? And when are the overcharges going to be returned?
With the TA and Garodnick's focus being now on the condo conversion plan, it is hoped that other, perhaps more crucial, tenant issues will not be neglected. Again, it seems, it will be up to the tenants themselves to be on the alert.
At the tail end of this year, we saw Lux Living close down his site and Facebook, which was a real loss for tenants, as both were very useful and important.
This coming year will see more battles, more uncertainties, I think. I do hope that finally this place will pick up in maintenance. Yes, it's gotten better, but when I see the T-Level of my building finally looking spic and span, with a new paint job, I will shout my hosannas.