Comment Policy

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Management has two priorities: 1) Making sure money is made, hence upgrading and filling up apartments is their goal. "Amenities" are important in selling the place, though few residents use them. 2) If someone needs medical attention, Public Safety will be there, if alerted.

Quality of life issues are not that important, however. They tend to be ignored, despite "the rules." So you will see a lot that isn't taken care of properly, and complaints will be met with a creative excuse and a smile.

"Peace and quiet" must be a cruel joke, though this property is sold that way. There can be no peace and quiet as ALL apartments must be upgraded, which includes the installation of an AC unit below the window. Aside from the continual construction about the neighborhood, there is a new and noisy subway extension being built along East 14 st and the shut down of the L line. "Choosing" to live in NYC, now the newest mantra, is a fabrication when the talk is of ST and PCV, which was traditionally quiet, with no construction noise.

Though money was always important, it is now more important than ever. Money rules many things, as you will find.

At this point, 30 years into living here and seeing many things, I can state that Management and their reps are BS-ing us. I can't say that loudly enough: We are being BS-ed. I don't see any genuine change. Sorry.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The TA Petition to de Blasio

Can't hurt to sign it:

http://www.change.org/petitions/bill-de-blasio-appoint-tenant-friendly-members-to-the-rent-guidelines-board-3

So What Came Out of the Tenant-CW Meeting on the Construction of the New Management Office?

It appears, not much, if anything.

I wasn't there (though I wish I could have been), but according to the Town & Village article on the February 18th meeting, "End in Sight for Construction Project," no vital information was forthcoming. Just the title chosen--"End in Sight for Construction Project"--was not eye-opening, as, of course, the end is always in sight for any project here in Stuy Town (except fixing the buildings affected by Hurricane Sandy), and it was already known that the spring or summer would be the "end in sight" for this particular one. So yawn on the title.

Apparently, "major construction" will be finished in May, with completion set for August.

And you can bet disruptive work will be done on Saturdays eventually:

"Andrew Kane of CW Capital said that updates are now being posted in individual buildings and that work starts at around 8:30 a.m. during the week. While they are trying to push all their work to during the week, weekend work is sometimes unavoidable, said Kane."

Questions about rent rebates during this time were not answered by CW and Compass Rock representatives, but this info wasn't in the Town & Village article. And nothing at all was mentioned about Councilman Garodnick challenging the acceptance of Saturday work hours for this project. (Which may mean that he didn't challenge such potential plans, despite being a sponsor of legislation to rein in such abuses.)

A couple of days later, a blue tarp covered a contaminated area of soil (soil samples were taken to be tested a week earlier), but nothing about this test appears to have been mentioned at the meeting. One wonders if CWC and CR knew the results as they were speaking to tenants on February 18th.

Councilman Dan Garodnick stated of CWCapital and CompassRock after the meeting that, "It’s important for them to share information about the project."  Which means that tenants should already know the results of the soil testing and why a blue tarp was necessary over part of the ground.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Welcome to My Nightmare



A comment on the TA Facebook page about the above new Public Safety Office located at the Oval:

"We are directly above them on the M level. That's our apartment right above the green monster. There are 4 HVAC units directly beneath our bedroom/bathroom windows. They've been testing those units out and the noise level prevents us from opening our windows, not to mention the exhaust fans that are on top of each unit. We used to look out at a green hill with trees - now we see an industrial park...bleak, noisy and toxic. We've lived through hell since the middle of November, with all of the deafening construction and toxic fumes that came up through the bathroom riser. We've contacted the management but so far no response..."

Real Estate Developers to de Blasio: "Just get out of the fucking way."

Can we get some new architects at least? These are as ugly as the souls of their real estate developers.

Another read-it-and-weep (or gnash-your-teeth) article about what's been happening to this city and who the real power players are.  And the definition of "affordable housing" is a joke, but even the people who qualify for "affordable housing" have to use the poor door.  (Thanks to a STR reader for alerting me to this important and well-researched article.)

http://observer.com/2014/02/is-manhattan-for-everyone-the-pied-a-terre-and-the-poor-door/

Friday, February 21, 2014

We, and New York City, are Screwed

We've already pointed out the pal relationship between the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and our politicians, and here's the smackdown:

 http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/sky-limit-affordable-housing-mayor-de-blasio-article-1.1620714

Get ready for even taller skyscrapers and more densely packed neighborhoods.

Mayor de Blasio told a closed-door meeting of real estate barons Wednesday that he has no “hangup” about allowing them to supersize their developments if it means creating more affordable housing.

“As we get to know each other . . . I hope people hear me loud and clear that the only way I can achieve my goals is if we are building and building aggressively,” he said.

“I’m deadly serious about 200,000 units of affordable housing.”

Leaving no doubt what he meant, de Blasio said reaching his housing goals would require erecting the biggest buildings possible.

He called it a “willingness to use height and density to the maximum feasible extent. This is something I’ve said in our previous meetings I don’t have a hangup about. I think it’s necessary to do what I’m here to do.”

De Blasio made his remarks to the executive board of the Real Estate Board of New York, known as REBNY, where he was warmly received.

"Stuy Town is a campus"

Well, I guess we knew that, but here's confirmation, nevertheless.  (Hat tip to STR blog reader.)

http://nyunews.com/2014/02/20/stuytown/


Do note lack of mandated 80% carpeting, btw.

The comment section is priceless. There is, so far, one response from a NYU resident:

"I think all of the old residents on this page need to chill. I'm an NYU student and love Stuy town minus the gumpy tenants that are posting here. Jon, did you really say no drinking? What is Stuytown Amish now? Did I miss something?

"So what if I like to have some fun with friends past 8pm (aka your bedtime)? I pay full price for my apartment unlike all of you rent controlled dinosaurs. If I want to tan on the Oval, I'll tan on the Oval. And Gilbert, if you're ball 'accidentally' finds it's way to my eye, me and my bro's fists might just 'accidentally' find it's way to your face."

Though I'm sure this isn't the attitude of most students living (temporarily) here, I bet it's one that's held by many, particularly the macho bros.

The scandal is that renting to transient residents like students increases legally the rents in PCVST. The landlord(s) know this and work it to best advantage.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act

There's a view that the repeal in 1999 of this Depression era act led to our country's financial crisis and, also importantly, took away criminal offenses from what entities like Tishman-Speyer tried to do with PCVST.

The repeal was supported by both Republicans and Democrats.



An opinion piece at US News & World Report explains further:

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2012/08/27/repeal-of-glass-steagall-caused-the-financial-crisis

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Urstadt













The article is a few years old, from 2010.

The man behind the law:

http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_357/urstadt.html

The money quote, to me:

"Urstadt said City Councilmembers and even an ACORN representative have privately thanked him for the Urstadt Law."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Rent Stabilization Blues



Pretty eye-opening:

http://www.thenation.com/blog/178090/can-de-blasio-make-rent-less-damn-high#

Some choice quotes:

"More than 987,000 apartments in New York—nearly half of all rental units—are rent-stabilized, meaning annual changes in rent are set by a body called the Rent Guidelines Board, or RGB."

"An apartment renting for $700 when Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002, where the lease was renewed annually, could legally go for $966 to $1,007 by the time Bloomberg headed back to the corporate world. That’s well ahead of the growth in family incomes."

"The trend continues: the RGB revealed last year that net income for landlords had increased for seven straight years, that tenant incomes had dropped, that evictions were up and that landlord operating costs were expected to rise a mere 2.6 percent this year. Yet the board, using its formula, raised rents 4 percent."

"The impact of these increases went beyond the monthly rent bill; if a rent-regulated apartment’s monthly rent exceeds $2,500 and it is vacated, it exits the rent stabilization program. Last year, 6,700 units lost their rent protection that way. Every time the RGB raises rents, it moves every apartment in the system closer to the exit door."

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Don't make de Blasio forget his promise/offering to freeze rents:

http://www.realrentreform.org/2014/02/petition-rally-for-rent-freeze-in-2014.html

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BTW, our local politicians proudly cheered the Roberts Decision in that it made all Stuy Town/Peter Cooper apartments rent stabilized.  But do you know of any rent stabilized apartments outside PCVST in New York going for 4K to 5K plus??? This was a sham victory, indeed, and merely codified the high price of apartments here for our newer tenants.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Real Estate Board of New York Gala of 2014 - Guess Who Attended?

True, I may have it wrong. There have to be big-shot members of residential real estate who are caring stewards of what they own, who are fair in their dealings with tenants and respectful to them. My experience, however, is quite different. My residential experience is limited to Stuyesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. I have seen our stewards--Tishman-Speyer and CWCaptial--devastate this community, use any available methods to kick rent-stabilized tenants out, pump up the rent rolls with transients, use the physical park-like attributes as a toy, evacuate the Oval of its traditional charm and many of its trees and flowers, and dance with joy when a old tenant dies because that tenant's apartment becomes available for remodeling and an increase in rent by a couple of thousand dollars.  I may have it wrong, but not here in PCVST.

With that, I consider big real estate "the enemy" because that is what I have learned these past years. I don't restrict my view just to stewards of PCVST.  Perhaps that's a misguided prejudice. I'll admit that. But I have also seen our city change and neighborhoods devastated with reversals on zoning laws and the implementation of "air rights" that allow aesthetically inappropriate slivers to be built, pleasing real estate, of course, but marring New Yorkers' sense of community and taking away the simple visual and emotional pleasure of a sky.

And so I find the following photos of a gala held by the Real Estate Board of New York troubling, disturbing. In the pit of my stomach there is the start of a retching movement when I look at them. These photos, which a STR reader alerted me to in our comment section, make me kinda ill. But, perversely, they are also amusing. It's almost laughable in how these photos tell us that we're screwed.

This is our Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito with REBNY Chairman Rob Speyer:


I know if I were in Mark-Viverito's place I would not be smiling at Robbie (still the number one individual who screwed over PCVST and middle-class affordability here), unless I was telling him that the city is preparing a case against him and Tishman-Speyer in their handling of this property.

This is Steve Spinola/REBNY President with our State Senator Catherine Young and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito:


Below: Steve Spinola and Rob Speyer with our Governor, Andrew Cuomo: How does this make you feel about the governor being unequivocally on the side of tenants?


Baby face Stringer, whom I have never instinctively trusted, was there also:


Our "commie" mayor was there, too, hobnobbing with wealthy capitalists:


On the left is Gale Brewer, our Manhattan Borough President; on the right, Michael Norton of Tishman Speyer:


The chic in the middle is RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commisioner of NYC Housing Department of Housing Preservation and Development:


A familiar face to all of us:


 He's so photogenic, that, well... Here's another photo!


And I'm sure you also recognized Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in the above photo. In this one, she gets a photo op with Robbie:


So, how secure do you feel about "affordable middle-class housing" in PCVST?  These guys will throw you a bone. If you're lucky.

UPDATE: Robbie Speyer has his own website. The main news is this gala and its "players":

http://robspeyer.com/

From that page: "2,300 people crowded the New York Hilton on January 16th, 2014 night for REBNY’s 118th annual banquet. Read more about the the biggest night of the year."

If you go through the link and check out the "biggest night of the year," you will read about the mocking disdain these real estate people have for Mayor de Blasio. I quote:

"2,300 people crowded the New York Hilton on Thursday night for REBNY's 118th annual banquet. We snapped 28 of its biggest stars. (Mayor de Blasio didn't event [sic] make our cut. Call it rookie hazing.)"

You see, according to the mindset, the mayor and all politicians are not the key players. They are not really A-List members, because they are in temporary positions of power and can disappear as quickly as they appear. "Who finances your re-election efforts, baby?"

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Bill to Limit Hours of Construction



While the TA proclaimed that Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez introduced legislation this February to limit construction hours during normal non-work hours, a similar or the same bill was up before the council last year, in November. Garodnick and Mendez were also sponsors of that legislation, as was Gale Brewer, the current Manhattan Borough President.

Here's a New York Post article from November 2, 2013:

http://nypost.com/2013/11/02/proposed-bill-would-limit-hours-for-construction/

What happened to the proposal? It died without a date for it being taken up again (Sine die). 

Now the legislation is back, and this time we should push our elected officials to make sure that it doesn't get delayed again and that it becomes law, so that residents of all places in New York won't be harassed by construction noise during normal off-work hours unless an emergency dictates otherwise.  I don't know how the legislation is written (yet), but it may be prudent to also limit current weekday hours for construction. Having construction start at 7am and finish at 6pm (the current legal time-period) is too expansive. That morning hour should be moved up to at least 8am, if not 9am. Let's make New York a bit more habitable for its residents.

This blog will be keeping an eye out for what happens to this proposal. The good news is that there are more city council sponsors of this legislation than before.

You can, and should, send your love letters of support to the sponsors by Googling their contact info. Make sure this legislation is not forgotten again. And here are the current sponsors of the legislation:

http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1655655&GUID=97C47DE3-CF8F-4B92-824E-4F01B524C9D9&Options=ID|Text|&Search

As for weekend Sat/Sun construction, that should be forbidden in residential areas. This community has suffered for many years with allowances for construction work on Saturday.

And this is where you report possibly illegal construction noise:

http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/2090/noise-from-construction

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Response To Recent TA Deletions of Posts

On Saturday afternoon, February 1st, this blog posted two photos of an artistic rendering of what the new management office will look like once completed. For a long while, tenants have been wondering what this office would look like, and now there was, for the first time, a visual representation on the internet, available for anyone to see. On the same day, a member of the TA Facebook posted a link to this blog, in the process bringing up a graphic of the new management office. So an artistic rendering of the management office was viewable on the TA Facebook page on Saturday; comments from Facebook members began to filter in. Then, suddenly, the post, and with it the photo, the link and the comments, were gone.

Wondering what was happening, I contacted the TA on Sunday and was told an answer would be forthcoming. Today, Wednesday afternoon, February 5th, I received the answer.

I can't quote this message, as the message was personal and I don't have authorization, but the response was both confusing and, frankly, nonsensical. On one hand, I was informed, the TA member's post and its follow-up commentary were removed because the TA "Communications Team" wanted everyone to focus on this:

http://www.stpcvta.org/ta/post/new-stuyvesant-town-peter-cooper-village-management-office-whats-going-on

And on the other hand, the TA moderators (the "Communications Team," as they were called in the message) are trying to group together comments on a particular topic, and that post became victim of a plan to assemble posts concerning the management office today.

I have no idea which individuals comprise the "TA Communications Team" (the TA seems to be adopting CWCapital's secrecy levels) but the hall monitor quality of deleting posts/merging posts/etc has been particularly acute these recent days, as if some member of the "Communications Team" has been left alone to his or her own devices, and, crazed, has run rampant with newly found power. I think it's a terrible and insulting way to run a Facebook page, overly authoritarian and contrary to the easy-going and friendly exchange of commentary on topics of interest and value to tenants. I can understand bouncing out comments that have nothing to do with the subject at hand or which are insulting or noxious, but the post that was deleted just contained vital new information that was surely of interest to residents and members of the TA.

Worse, a replacement "authorized" post turns up a today, four days later, offering up, almost as a scoop, a similar photo to the one that was deleted on Saturday, and manufacturing an impression that the TA and Dan Garodnick are at the forefront of those concerned about the new management office and determined to find out just what the hell is happening. What took them so long? And why are they giving the impression that they've been awake the entire time, rather than asleep, disinterested or just plain unsure of what action to take?

At this point, considering the evidence before me, I can only come to the conclusion that the elimination of the link to the Stuy Town Report page was a purposeful negation directed provocatively at this blog by a member of the "TA Communications Team" left in charge over the weekend, and that the leader of this team has tried to cover this up upon his return by reposting in one thread the comments deleted, but not, of course, the original post that provided a link to the blog.

I have generally supported the TA and have countered on occasion its critics in the comment section or by not passing through the most outrageous comments directed at the TA that I have come across.  (And there have been a bunch.)  My position regarding the TA has been changing recently, however, and the current rationale for the deletion of posts there confirms that my still evolving views are the correct course. Yes, the TA can be useful, but it is to be considered only an auxiliary in the fight for affordable housing and an imperfect, even flawed fighter at that. I still support it to a limited, expiring extent, but not anymore with dues, however. Sorry. I'm not going to pay for the privilege of getting disappointed. As of today, I am not a member of the TA.

We, the tenants, have the right and responsibility to go after tenant matters that concern us without the reliance on the TA or our elected officials. My one regret is that I cannot attend to this 100% or even 50% or 25% due to time constraints. What I will try to do in the coming weeks is offer up proactive guides, so that we, as individuals, can seek our own recourse, our own sense of fairness and justice.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Councilman Dan Garodnick Finally Moves

Should you need evidence that this blog and its commentary are read by people "in a position of authority," you now have the latest from our councilman Dan Garodnick, who finally addresses the concerns that tenants have had about the construction of the new management office.  Do note that these concerns were either not allowed or mitigated on the TA Facebook page, and where a recent post was removed that offered a link to photos of an artistic rendering of the completed project.

Unfortunately, those reviewing this blog have missed the fact that the blog has already posted a diagram and a visual representation of the forthcoming management office. Or perhaps they have seen them, but just don't want it known that they have seen them here.

Here is Dan's message to tenants:

Dear Friend,

After Hurricane Sandy flooded the Peter Cooper/ Stuyvesant Town management offices at 317 Avenue C, CompassRock decided to move them to a more central location on the property. In case it escaped your notice, construction of the new space has begun in the area behind 272-278 First Avenue, and abutting Playground 8. This is the space that Oval Concierge previously occupied. While a more convenient management office situated outside of a flood zone could be welcome, too little information has been provided to residents about the plans.

Last October, the Tenants Association held a preliminary meeting with management and affected residents to discuss what was being planned. Many important questions were asked, and there are still outstanding questions despite the fact that work started at the site this week.

Residents deserve a clear picture of what the site will look like when complete, and its effects on the open space. Those in the affected buildings should be afforded real accommodations during the construction work, including a rent abatement. They further need to understand how management will address noise and environmental concerns. With that in mind, I sent a letter to management last week, co-signed by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, asking them to address the many outstanding issues and to host a meeting directly with residents to address their concerns. You can read the letter here.

I also have asked the Department of Buildings to perform a prompt audit of the site and the plans to ensure compliance with all applicable rules.

Residents deserve clarity on this project, and management needs to do much more to accommodate the people who live in surrounding buildings.

Sincerely,

Dan


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And here is a PDF of the letter Dan, State Senator Brad Hoylman and State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh have sent to CWCapital.

If we go by past experience, CWCapital may throw a bone or two in response, but otherwise it's going to be business as usual. Do note that this blog has been continually proposing a rent abatement to tenants that live in any area affected by the noise and disruption of construction. This should be demanded of the special servicer by local politicians and the Tenants Association, and persistently, even naggingly, brought up. This blog has also promoted transparency in the construction that CWCapital is engaging in and will be engaging in. CWCapital's insistence on a secretive "need to know" position is insulting to the residents that live in PCVST and who are, and will be, affected most by any construction.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

New Management Office - The Way It's Going to Look

Posted at the glass doors of what was the Oval Concierge is an artistic rendering of what the new management office will look like from the 1st Ave. side.  As can be seen, there will be a doorway entrance on that side, and what look like hedges, or artificial grass, around the "green roof." Click on photos to make them larger.



Everything looks lovely, though the caution is that these type of renderings never accurately represent the final outcome.

Far be it for me to give management pointers on how to deal with tenants, but, guys, don't you think you should be more transparent in what you are doing around the property and in a timely manner? This artistic rendering and a diagram of the extension should have been made available to tenants months ago.

UPDATE 2/2/14: The latest photo of the area...

Clarifications about this blog

A few people are misunderstanding what this blog is about and, in particular, the purpose of its comment section.

1) Comments made do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the administrator. Generally, I let through most comments. Some I agree with, others I do not, while a segment I have no opinion on. If you disagree with a comment, you can state so, and challenge the information presented. I've done that myself. That's the back and forth purpose of a comment section.

2) I will not be bullied by self-appointed hall monitors to change the above. Everyone has a right to comment, even if they write in CAPS.  And, for the record (which should be apparent), I am the only hall monitor here, and I'm not about to relinquish this position because a control freak wants--no, insists--on this job without an invitation.

3) I am fully aware that because of the anonymous ability to make comments some individuals can craft their comments as coming from different individuals rather than a single one. I've already noted this in at least one thread. That's the downside of having anonymous commentary capabilities, but the downside in not having them is taking away the advantage a commentator may have in writing openly and without fear of reprisal from management or any other entity or even person.  That said, I think most of us are keen enough to get a sense of when a commentator is using multiple anonymous identities to prop up his or her viewpoint.

4) There is a lot happening in PCVST that's secretive or confusing. Trying to make sense of it is a challenge. That is why the comment section may contain incorrect or misunderstood information, and that is why this information can be challenged and/or corrected. In fact, I welcome such corrections. On the main page of the blog and my posts there, I try to maintain accuracy, because that's the only section that is my own and for which I am solely responsible.

5) Taking all the above into consideration, this blog is also an advocacy blog for affordable middle class housing and the saving of New York from well-monied interests who would like to eat it up to assuage their own gluttonous appetites, leaving everyone else high and dry.  So trolls who like to provoke by going against this will have a hard time getting a soapbox platform here, though some of their commentary will be let through, of course--and challenged.

That's it. Now on with the show.

ADDENDUM:  A couple more clarifications needed, this based on a critique I received from a reader of this post. This person commented, among other things: "You have taken on a big responsibility being the voice of our community." Actually--and this is something I have stressed now and then--I'm not the voice of this community, but "a" voice. This blog was started years ago because I was being pissed off by the things happening here under the reign of Tishman-Speyer.  It was a personal mission that by its nature related matters and concerns that others in the community can be sympathetic with and are interested in. No one voted for me to represent anything and I am not seeking any such votes. On another issue, this reader chides me for not being proactive in making calls to verify statements made in the commentary section. I have several reasons for not wanting, at this point, to "out myself" to certain key players in the system. I am, after all, anonymous myself. There may come a time, and relatively soon, when I will throw caution to the wind and change this stance, but not now. My prerogative, my blog. There is also a time element involved. Contrary to what some may think, I am not a retired senior, nor do I have a trust fund I can live off, as I sit around the Oval and watch the girls go by. I have work I must do that demands a lot of my time and attention. Many times, all I can do is just swiftly pass through comments. I don't have luxury of doing otherwise, except possibly on the weekend. If anyone is dissatisfied with this blog, my advice would be not to read it, or better yet, start your own. It doesn't cost anything, money-wise.