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Friday, January 25, 2013
The Future of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village
On the eve of the TA meeting where conversion will be discussed (once again), it's good to consider just what is the future of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village. Let's zero in with this question: Do you seriously think that all the buildings about us are going to be still here 50 years from now without any change? If you consider that Manhattan is being transform daily, even in a lousy economy, and that the only old buildings that have a chance of being saved are those that have been designated landmarks, if you consider that the middle class in the city and in this complex is expiring or being forced out (thank you, politicians), if you consider that the buildings of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper are old, falling apart, not able to withstand the ravages of extreme weather (hello, Sandy), with paper-thin walls, if you consider that we don't have central heating and air-conditioning, doormen, or any of the perks of true luxury apartments that some of our newer market-rate paying tenants, and when you see just how ugly these buildings look during winter, when there is no foliage for cover and flowers to beautify the surroundings, you have to objectively ask yourself: What's there to save?
Consider also one of the great advantages to anyone who buys this place: Our large student population is a temporary one, meaning a landlord can vacate apartments much easier than if a permanent rental class existed here across the board. I suspect that one of the reasons CWCapital is not that interested in the TA conversion plan is that the company is looking to capture a significantly bigger and wealthier fish. And that buyer will surely not look upon this place as a tasty deal because of project-like buildings that have existed here since the late 1940s, but rather as an extensive plot of land in the middle of prime Manhattan real estate that can contain numerous brand new highrises with high rental rates. Oh, and indoor swimming pools, boutique shops, mini-gyms, etc. There'd still be a "park runs through it," of course, and the Oval Fountain to maintain the quaint tradition of PCVST. If this is the future, then all the energy that people (current landlords and tenants) are putting into what we now have is a kind of a cruel joke.
Of course there is one headache for any prospective landlord: the permanent tenants here. There is eminent domain, of course (it was used to remove the people who used to live here before Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village was erected), but I think that would raise too much stink, unless we get a few more Bloombergs as mayors. But if a landlord made you, or your sons and daughters, an offer of a nice profitable buyout, perhaps even granting a low "insider" price on a rental in a brand new "wow" PCVST apartment, in a modern city-within-a-city complex that will be the envy of all New Yorkers, perhaps the world, would you take it?
Such a resurrection project would be years in the making. Initially only one or two buildings would be razed, followed by others after that. It may take another century to see everything finalized. But, I think, this is the future of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper. The only thing that could "save" what we have now is a worldwide economic disaster that would decimate any capital or willpower for such an enterprise.