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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.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stuy Town Ignoring Flag Code?


No, it's not the end of the world if the Flag Code isn't followed in Stuy Town, but it is a sign of respect, however antiquated, if it is followed.  I've been seeing the flags around Stuy Town up all night (not illuminated), including in inclement weather.  There was a time, not that long ago, when they were taken down at sunset and raised at sunrise.  What gives?  The personnel aren't there any more?  Money's tight?  No one cares?  What's the story?

This was a complex that was built, in part, for veterans, and the manager now is a former Marine. Let's pick up our game here.

http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html

Flag Code

Time and occasions for display

  • (a) Display on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in open; night display It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
  • (b) Manner of hoisting The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • (c) Inclement weather The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed. 

UPDATE 1/26:  The flags are now being taken down at dusk and raised at dawn.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"There’s no room for the earlier version of the middle class.”


Yup, you can forget about "affordable middle class housing" in Manhattan.  The politicians paved the way for this, with Bloomberg as the master planner and the City Council as his confederates.

Read this and weep:

NT Times article, "What is Middle Class in Manhattan?"

Some choice sentences:

The average Manhattan apartment, at $3,973 a month, costs almost $2,800 more than the average rental nationwide.

It is not surprising, then, that a family of four with an annual income of $68,700 or less qualifies to apply for the New York City Housing Authority’s public housing. 

Firefighter, police officer, teacher and manufacturing worker all used to be professions that could lift a family into its ranks. But those kinds of jobs have long left people unable to keep up with soaring real estate prices.  

Only 17 percent of Manhattan households have children, according to census data. That is almost half the national average, making little ones the ultimate deal-breaker for otherwise die-hard middle-class Manhattanites. 

“Manhattan has serious affordability problems,” said Mr. Braconi, the economist. In the last decade, the percentage of people who are paying “unaffordable rents” (defined as more than 30 percent of their income) has increased significantly, according to a report issued in September by the city’s comptroller. If that trend continues, it will feed the perennial panic that Manhattan’s middle class is on the brink of extinction, no longer able to cope with the city’s prices and fast retreating to its natural habitat, the suburbs.

The only young people she sees moving in around her are often buoyed by parental support, given an apartment at graduation the way she was given a Seiko watch. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

PCVST Tenants Association Meeting Saturday, January 26th



At 1pm, Mason Hall in Baruch College (Lex. Ave and 23 St.), the TA will hold meeting. Speakers include TA President John Marsh, Councilman Dan Garodnick, TA attorney Tim Collins.  Hurricane Sandy related issues will be discussed, MCIs--and, of course, conversion!  Registration is suggested via the internet: stpcvta.org/jan2013mtg or by phone: 1-917-338-7860.

Seriously, I just don't have the spirit to go and listen to the same BS that I've been hearing each year.  It's over.  Affordable housing in this complex, that is.  And we have to adjust to that reality. Those of us who are truly rent-stabilized (and not the nonsense RS crafted from the Roberts case) should just enjoy our advantage while we can, but for those who came to live here after us paying market rate, and those who will be coming, they will never have affordable middle class housing.  The politicians have been useless, and the TA, while having some minor success (and I commend them for their selfless service), just hasn't been aggressive enough in dealing with the overwhelming forces of greed and slimy maneuvers coming from whichever landlord rules this place.  People should be going to jail or heavily fined for what has been happening here since Met Life decided to sell this place, but no one in power will ever go to jail or be fined. The burden was and will be placed on the tenants who live here.

More on this in a future post.