Comment Policy

All comments to posts have to await approval. Please be aware that, depending on when I'm logged onto the internet, it may take me hours, even longer, to moderate comments, so if they don't turn up in a speedy fashion, they are still in the queue. Comments that cross a line I'm not comfortable with will not get approved. NOTE: Comments reflect the opinions of the person writing them and should not be assumed to reflect the opinion of the blog.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's Wrong with the City.....



I don't know if any blog readers have been to West 57th Street in the last couple of years, but if you have, you surely could not miss what has to be the poster child for An Ugly High-Rise That Devastates the Neighborhood and the City.  It's "One57"--a steel and glass monster that not only mars 57th Street, but one that casts a shadow over southern parts of Central Park and can probably be seen in most field areas of the park.



 The front of the building is hideous, too:


We find out that this monster, whose apartments have been bought up by billionaire hedge-fund operators and rich foreigners (many of whom will reside in these apartments for just a few months out of the year), is getting a 10-year tax exemption for developer Gary Barnett of Extell Development:

How have our politicians let this through?   According to the NY Times article, money is at the core:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/nyregion/luxe-builders-chase-dreams-of-property-tax-exemptions.html?_r=1&

 Mr. Barnett and four princeling developers joined the Real Estate Board of New York last year, spreading a thick green carpet of cash for politicians, at least $1.5 million. (To peruse their donation lists is to glory in nonpartisan giving: the governor, the attorney general, the state party organizations that have proved so corrupt of late, and any politician, Republican or Democrat, who possessed the simple wit to create a “Friends of ... ” committee — all are awash in the developers’ cash.) This is known as fertilizing a field. Spread manure and, voilà!

Our politicians are willfully destroying this city and handing it over to the super rich.

And wouldn't you know it that our councilman, Dan Garodnick, is a beneficiary of Barnett cash:

Barnett, Ayala
homemaker Garodnick, Daniel R (NP)
City Council  (2013)

$500.00Monetary Contributions
St#: 4   ID: R0004579
Barnett, Ayala


Garodnick, Daniel R (NP)
City Council  (2013)

$2,250.00Monetary Contributions
St#: 6   ID: R0006356
Barnett, Ayala
homemaker Garodnick, Daniel R (NP)
City Council  (2013)

$2,750.00Monetary Contributions
St#: 8   ID: R0007108
Barnett, Gary
Extell Development Company
Developer
Garodnick, Daniel R (NP)
City Council  (2013)

$400.00Monetary Contributions
St#: 6   ID: R0006358


So generous were the Barnetts, that there was an adjustment made because their enthusiasm for Dan was overflowing:

Barnett, Gary

Garodnick, Daniel R (NP)
City Council  (2013)

($150.00)Receipt Adjustments
St#: 7   ID: R0006645

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Stuy Town's Newest Amenity Space (ie, Commercial Venture): CALIGARI'S NIGHTMARE (for Children!!!)



In an effort to squeeze even more money out of market-rate paying Stuyvesant Town parents and add more funds to someone's coffers, CWCapital/CompassRock have given Apple Seeds ("NYC's Premier Operator for Kids' Indoor Play Spaces and Programs") the right to set up shop at Oval Kids and charge $720 per year for the opportunity to let the little ones sing some songs and dance.

As something unique was required, Apple Seeds has redesigned the Ovals Kids space to resemble the expressionistic sets, designed to symbolize madness and conflict, from the silent horror classic, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI.





Rumors abound that Dr. Caligari himself is the "director" of the Oval Kids' program, but whether he is employed by Apple Seeds or CWCapital is unknown at this point. Perhaps he is next in line to take over from the recently departed general manager, Sean Sullivan, who in his last days in Stuy Town was seen walking stiffly around the Oval and looking a bit like Dr. Caligari's automaton, Cesare:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NYS Attorney Moves on Mid-Term Lease Increases

From the Tenants Association:

An investigation by the NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman into the leasing practices of CWCapital has resulted in settlement for affected tenants.  Those affected need to act quickly with a deadline of June 30th.

The New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has stepped in to address a deceptive practice in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

The Tenants Association was outraged by the mid-lease increases announced by CWCapital on May 15, made even worse by the fact that leasing agents had promised many tenants that no such increases would ever happen.  We were committed to fighting back and are pleased to report a significant victory.

After receiving a complaint by our City Councilman and neighbor Dan Garodnick, the Attorney General conducted an investigation into the representations being made by CWCapital leasing agents to prospective renters.

The Tenants Association worked diligently over the past few weeks with Councilman Garodnick to identify affected tenants who were misled, and to ask them to share their stories.  We were extremely pleased to see that the Attorney General took this matter seriously and pushed CWCapital to a positive outcome.

CWCapital settled the issue with the Attorney General by promising to roll back mid-lease increases for any tenant who was told by a leasing agent-either verbally or in writing-that their rent would not go up in the middle of the term.  CWCapital also committed to not implementing any further mid-lease rent increases. 

Over the weekend, CompassRock (on behalf of CWCapital) distributed a letter and affidavit under the doors of the affected tenants.  If you got one of those letters, you should fill it out.  If a leasing agent told you-in any way-that your rent would not go up in the middle of your lease, you need to explain that in as much detail as you can recall. 
You will need to bring the unsigned affidavit to a notary, sign the affidavit in presence of the notary, and send it back by June 30. 

We repeat and clarify the instructions (below) for tenants who want to act now.

Commenting on the settlement,
Stuyvesant Town - Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President John Marsh said, "We appreciate the Attorney General's taking the important action that he did.  The allegations of misrepresentations were serious and numerous.  We urge all those who received either written or verbal assurances that their rent would not be increased mid-lease to sign and return the affidavit."  Tenants Association Board Chair Susan Steinberg added, "This is another example of the TA's strength in advocating for tenants.  That strength lies in our ability to organize, to communicate, and to provide forums for tenants to share ideas and information.  That's what makes participating as a member key." 

TO TENANTS WHO RECEIVED THE LETTER AND AFFIDAVIT

This is a formal document that has been approved by the Attorney General.  By signing this document and sharing your story, you very likely will be able to keep your rent from going up before the end of the lease term. 

Here is what you need to do:

Complete the affidavit and sign it in front of a notary public. If you have an e-mail or other correspondence with a renting agent, attach it.  If you simply recall a conversation on the matter of the mid-lease clause, write about it in the space provided.

Take the affidavit and any supporting material to be notarized. You must appear in person to sign and show photo ID. To facilitate this process, Tenants Association volunteers with a notary's license will be available, at no charge, at the Community Center Tuesday, June 18, Thursday, June 20, and Tuesday, June 25, between 6:00 and 8:00 pm., Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23 between 2:00 and 4:00 pm.  Please note that a notary only affirms your signature, not the content of the document.

(If you have discarded the material that came under your door, thinking it was a ruse, you can pick up a new affidavit at the Community Center at those hours) or print out the letter and affidavit linked here.

Return the notarized affidavit and support material, if any,
by June 30th to: 

Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York
Attn: Elissa Rossi
Real Estate Finance Bureau
120 Broadway, 23rd Floor
New York, NY 10271

Send a copy of this affidavit to: 
PCVST Legal Department
Attention:  Roberts Administrator
317 Avenue C
New York, NY 10009

Important:  Your response must be postmarked no later than June 30, 2013

See the Attorney General's press release detailing the investigation and settlement here.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Me:  Congratulations to the TA and Councilman Garodnick for pressing on this matter and thanks to the NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Updates coming up

Once again, much is happening in Stuy Town Land.....  Will post updates soon.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Student Dorms and a High-Rise Tower Heading to Our Neighborhood?


Well, at least they are being open about the intentions.  From Real Estate Weekly:

http://www.rew-online.com/2013/06/12/stuy-town-site-for-sale/

Avison Young announced that the firm’s New York City-based investment sales team has been retained as the exclusive sales agent for 644 East 14th Street, directly across from Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, in Manhattan.

Principals Neil Helman and Charles Kingsley, who are both members of Avison Young’s Capital Markets Group, are leading the assignment on behalf of the site’s owner.

The 10,106 s/f corner parcel in the East Village is currently occupied by a one-story building. The site can accommodate an as-of-right project with 65,689 s/f for a mixed-use development including residential, retail and community facility space.

The property has 200 ft. of frontage on 14th Street and Avenue C. In addition, there are potentially 70,000 s/f of unutilized development rights from the properties directly to the west of the parcel that, with a zoning lot merger, can be incorporated onto the site.

“Well poised for redevelopment, this corner lot is ideally suited for a multitude of uses, including residential (condos or rentals), retail, and community facility use, including dormitories for student housing, making this a great opportunity for schools and other non-profit institutions,” said Helman. “The location on two wide streets with virtually no restrictions on height limitations is also highly advantageous, enabling a tower to be erected.”

-------------

What does this mean for us?  For one, more use, from people who are not "residents and their guests," of the Oval and other areas of Stuy Town.  For another, a visual blight from a building "with virtually no restrictions on height limitations."  And for another another, the further loss of middle-class affordable stores to be replaced by bars and Starbucks.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Garodnick Sides (Once Again) with Big Real Estate and Mayor Bloomberg


If there's anything that midtown Manhattan doesn't need, it's more development of massively high buildings that block out more sun and sky, create a visual blight, and bring in even more people pouring into already crowded streets.  But as we know, Manhattan is prime real estate, with big money being the major player.  So it's no surprise that our councilman, Dan Garodnick, who has been accepting bucket loads of donations from real estate, would support the further development of midtown Manhattan.

In his latest newsletter....  And, sorry, for interrupting, but the quality and size of the "newsletter" is a complete contradiction and affront to Garodnick's former concern, a few years ago, about going "green" in the production of his newsletters.  The newsletter is of heavy glossy stock, in full color and newspaper long.  Your government at work, with your money....  Anyway, getting back to the disturbing content of the newsletter, all rendered in a pseudo-pleasant "I'm concerned" style, it zeroes in on the development of the East Side of midtown Manhattan from, roughly, 39 Street up to 57 Street, between Fifth and Third Avenues, with a small extension into Second Ave.

In his "Dear Neighbor" opening, Garodnick agrees with Mayor Bloomberg that this area needs to be rezoned.  (I wonder why, if not for the development of higher buildings.)  Garodnick moans over the fact that "there has been limited development in this area" and that "only two new office buildings" have been constructed in the area in the last ten years.  Oh, but don't think he's not concerned:  "While unlocking development potential in this neighborhood is important, we must ensure that it is done thoughtfully and with an eye toward protecting the area's rich history and the environment."

It appears that, concerns notwithstanding, Garodnick will be voting near the end of this year for the Mayor's rezoning proposal which will be, according to the newsletter, "increasing the permitted density of commercial development on many blocks of East Midtown."  And it make me sick to my stomach to see "air rights" mentioned in the proposal as something to be joyfully used rather than revoked.  Air rights are why we see ugly tall spires sticking up in neighborhoods with moderate building size.

You can still make your voice heard (as if that's going to change the big money that's already ruling the game) by calling Garodnick's office at 212-818-0580 and telling his people that you are not in favor of the Mayor's proposed rezoning of East Midtown and/or by filling out the form on the back of his glossy newsletter, if you receive in the mail.

Enough already with destroying Manhattan for Big Business and rich foreigners! 

Now how's about some affordable middle-class housing in Manhattan?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Rocking the Oval Real Loud... or How To Spend Your Resources Wisely





If you live around the Oval--and even if you are buildings away--you will be hearing the loud noise coming from the Soul Asylum concert.

I eyed the crowds, and I'd say there were no more than 300 people present, at best.  A lot were spread out, in picnic style.  I thought the atmosphere was terrible, and left after I made my survey and took photos.

Surprise, surprise, but IDs were checked.  Not by Public Safety, but by an outside security force.  But, get this, one card holder could have 4 "guests," so all people had to do was ask someone going in with a STPCV ID to accept them as a guest.

Wondering How to Get In?

A lot of younger people had drinks in their hands, and I bet not apple or grape juice. No one checked. People who couldn't get in (or were trying to enjoy the Oval--good luck!) were sitting along the benches around the Oval.  The Oval Cafe was packed.

Aside from the outside security force, NYPD was also present!

A costly event.

Meanwhile basements in Peter Cooper Village lacking in washers and dryers have received used ones in stark, ripped to the bone basements that look as if they are from a HOSTEL film or some Russian contamination unit.  Careful when you go down there!

Stairs from Main leading to the basement.  Dear Lord!!!

Wall near elevator

Close-up of wall. Unbelievable!

Another wall. Or is it the firing wall where prisoners were once lined up?

Your washer and dryer, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Your folding table.  Could be easily employed as a Gulag interrogation table.

Do not even dare to enter!

And be glad you even have this, because as CWCapital/CompassRock has informed tenants that these "services" do not need to be provided.  So aren't you glad about the priorities of where money is spent here?

(PCV photos thanks to a concerned resident.) 

CWCapital Ready to "Rock" the Oval

"Rock the Oval" in preparation:


Meanwhile, watch out for falling trees.  The rains yesterday softened the ground enough to cause a large tree to fall in front of Stuy Oval 19 and 21.






Friday, June 7, 2013

Hercules Intercedes on Behalf of Stuy Town Tenants (Particularly Those Living Around the Oval)*

"May the gods let it rain and rain!"

* Will the Soul Asylum concert tomorrow be rained out or at least will the Oval lawn be a quagmire of mud and stagnant pools punishing those who trifle with the peace of our community?  Will Stuy Town tenants living around the Oval have a day of merciful rest inside their apartments?  Will Public Safety be freed from the weighty responsibility of checking to make sure concert attendees are only STPCV residents and their guests? Only the gods know!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Projects Living at Market Rate Pricing

Wake up, people!  We've all let "projects living at market rate pricing" become the new norm for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

This is NOT luxury or decent living--recent photos sent in by concerned residents:



(The above wooden floor has been in place for a couple of years, btw.)

Meanwhile, the "landscaping" produces much waste with plants/trees left out to die because no one is taking care of them and putting them into the ground:




Sunday, June 2, 2013

NOT HAPPENING, BUT... The Concept of Raising Rents On Everyone Because of "Financial Hardship"???


Okay, calm down.  It's not happening.  In another instance of a post on the TA Facebook opening up a new concern for tenants, we find out from someone who has been having discussions with the leasing office, this:

"The woman explained that if CW would go to a judge and the judge grants them legal right to raise rent [mid-lease] I will be bound by that decision - one of the reasons is financial hardship."

The very fact that the woman at the leasing office stated "financial hardship" as a reason to raise rents mid-lease suggests that the idea is out there.  How seriously has this idea been considered?  That I don't know, and perhaps, hopefully, the woman was just speaking off the top of her head and not revealing a landlord's potential or even speculative plan.  If she was speaking off the top of her head, her boss should admonish her for even suggesting such a concept and potentially traumatizing all the tenants here.

I think if any landlord of this place tried to raise rents due to "financial hardship," there'd be such an uproar and revolt that New York City would have an earthquake or two.  No landlord should even think of stepping in this direction.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Oval Cafe -- A Private Enterprise???


Ever since the Oval Cafe sprung up, I thought that it was owned/operated by management, with only the staff being hired out to an entity like American Leisure.  Well, here's some new info that, if true, raises the concerns over the Oval Cafe considerably. On the TA Facebook page, a person posted that they were asked to leave the outside table area because their coffee was from Dunkin Donuts and not the cafe.  The cafe person who approached them (who was classified as "so rude") responded that, quoting the poster, "he paid a lot of money in rent for that space."  Huh???  Does this mean that we actually have a 100% commercial business INSIDE Stuy Town that is renting out from CWCapital???  Doesn't this change dramatically the circumstances of the existence of Oval Cafe?

Paging Dan Garodnick.....

Garodnick Fails to Answer Pivotal Questions and Gets Thanked For It



So, our councilman, Dan Garodnick, was publicly asked a couple of pointed questions on the TA Facebook page, amid a soft-ball one.  The soft ball one he answered, but as to these others: "Why did you not scream from the rooftops cautioning fellow neighbors and constituents not to sign the agreement? Did you really believe that the 'fine print' was an altruistic attempt on the part of CW to show that they were somehow forced to add a statement about raising rents but would not?"....  Well, in true politician/lawyer fashion, he requested that the rest of the conversation be held in private, between the questioner and himself.  His response elicited a sincere thank you from the questioner, "grateful" for "all your hard work."

And so it goes. 

UPDATE:  Monday, June 3.

Our councilman was asked the question below in the aforementioned TA thread, Sunday morning.  So far, no response.

Dan: Don't you think the Roberts attorneys - who were supposed to be representing tenants and their interests - should be called to account? The final "deal" the tenants' attorneys agreed to was, obviously, highly flawed and has now backfired on many in the Roberts class, while the attorneys enriched themselves. I know this may be a tad uncomfortable for you, given that you aligned yourself with the attorneys in this class action, but it is high time to discuss inconvenient truths: The Roberts attorneys blew it...!

Protests, Filming, etc, This Weekend

From the TA:

Organized action in front of the PCV/ST Leasing Office on First Avenue will continue this Saturday, June 1, at 10:00 a.m. The Tenants Association has arranged for documentary filmmaker and citizen journalist Sandi Bachom to be there on Sunday, June 2, at 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to videograph your stories for posting in short vignettes on YouTube and for sending to CW Capital.

This is your chance to raise your voice, stand with your neighbors and educate would-be tenants and brokers about shocking mid-lease rent increases, the recent spate of unsolved burglaries, increasing incidents of bedbugs, ongoing and unresolved noise complaints, broken or totally missing laundry facilities, and surprise inspections that invade your privacy and your home.

Longtime rent-stabilized residents are working with former market rate tenants now faced with the choice between horrendous rent increases or forced departure from the community in which they have already put down roots. This newest threat to the future stability of Stuy Town-Peter Cooper affects us all.

Come to the leasing office on First Avenue at 15th Street on Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., or Sunday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Spend just 30 minutes or more educating prospective renters by distributing flyers and talking to them.

Please check the Tenants Association website for more information.