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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Brookfield...and Another Property in Manhattan

To remind you, Brookfield has partnered with the TA to acquire, if possible, PCVST.

http://therealdeal.com/blog/2014/03/05/brookfield-eyes-stake-in-1b-manhattan-portfolio-sources/


Pack of Dogs Being Walked Casually Around Stuy Town



I wish I had my camera with me this morning. What happened just goes to show how effective are those 1,200 HD security cameras and their human monitors....

I'm going along the back "M" area of the 20th Street ST buildings, on my way to Lenz's. Coming up toward me is an unbelievable, eye-glazing sight. A guy is walking a pack of dogs (five or six), two of which, at least, are banned dogs here in Stuy Town: a pit-bull and a German shepherd. We pass each other by, with me being very careful not to make any sudden movements and wondering if I should go back to the apartment to pick up my camera. I've seen banned dogs in Stuy Town before (and with a frequency that is dismaying), but this is the first time I see them in a pack. I decide against retrieving my camera, as I have other things to do.

With my Lenz's coffee in hand, I go to the Oval. It's not raining anymore, and there's a freshness in the air that is transfixing. I figure this dog walker is just traversing the back area of Stuy Town and will soon be out. Of course, any number of those 1,200 HD cameras would have seen him, and his pack of dogs, very easily. That is if someone were watching and attentive, and if there are no-nonsense rules of engagement with banned breeds in the complex.

So, I'm at the Oval--and then the guy and his pack of dogs turn up! Taking a walk around the Oval!

I now really regret not having my camera with me, but it still will be interesting, I say to myself, to see what happens, and if he will be stopped by Public Safety. A Public Safety vehicle approaches him and his dogs...and passes by.  He takes a full tour of the Oval, passing by the brand new hi-tech Public Safety office. Nothing. He starts a new tour of the Oval. Residents are turning their heads, curious as to why this guy and his pack of dogs are strolling so casually about the Oval walkway. And you can see the stifled alarm in the faces of resident dog-walkers who are taking their little pooches for a walk. No contest if there is a dog fight.

The guy now passes the small security booth, which before was empty, but toward which are walking TWO Public Safety "officers," looking more like schlubs and not the usual crew we are familiar with. The guy and his dogs pass by these "officers"--and not a word from these PS personnel.

So, the 2nd tour of the Oval proceeds. The guy and his dogs are, once again, heading past the new Public Safety office. But now there is an officer out in front, and finally, finally, the officer confronts the dog walker.

Why wasn't this guy and his pack of dogs stopped before? Why was he allowed to stroll about the back ways of Stuy Town and then around the Oval in front of various Public Safety officers with impunity?

A thank you to the officer who finally did stop him.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Town & Village Writes a Press Release for CWCapital



There's no other way to look at it. This week's TOWN & VILLAGE (March 27, 2014) contains what can only be considered a press release for the new Public Safety office. Titled "New Command Center Offers Better Access to Public Safety," the lengthy article, which begins on the newspaper's front page and ends on the last, contains none of the objections that tenants have had about the new office and, furthermore, extends its scope to quality of life issues, implying that they are being dealt with efficiently by Public Safety. The numerous problems tenants have had with these quality of life issues, still viable to this day, are ignored by the lack of any challenge to the statements made by Public Safety Chief Bill McCellan, who is the main source of the quotes and information contained in the article, written by longtime TOWN & VILLAGE staffer and principal writer, Sabina Mollot. The fault is not McCellan's, who is just doing his PR job well, but the paper's, which should be handling the interview and the article with journalistic curiosity and integrity, and, perhaps, more extensive research. Just reading the TA Facebook, this blog and even PCVST's own Facebook, should alert anyone that there's trouble in the paradise that is presented in the article. It's rare for the newspaper (or anyone, in fact) to bring "truth to power" directly with the people who run this complex (CWCapital's spokesman Brian Moriarty and its Asset Manager Andrew Cain were also present at the interview), so the golden opportunity to do so was completely lost when it was determined by the paper and/or its writer to craft a press release for CWCapital, and nothing else.

The title of the article "New Command Center Offers Better Access to Public Safety" is itself a positive promotion of the new structure, as if somehow the previous location, just around the Oval island, was not access enough or that somehow, down through the decades, access to Public Safety (or Security, as it was once called) was a real problem that tenants were concerned about.  Gee, I never remember tenants pleading for more access to Public Safety. Tenants were satisfied and felt secure with the Oval security booth that has had a presence, in various forms, once being a brick structure by the fountain. The only pleas I have heard or read about was for Public Safety to have "boots on the ground," officers walking the beat of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village, an issue I will get to soon.

The article starts off with by detailing the inside of the new Public Safety building and noting that "new HD monitors allow officers to see everything that the 1,200 surveillance cameras located throughout the complex see in high-definition quality."  Kinda interesting that with all this HD surveillance, Public Safety still has problems stopping banned dog breeds being walked right in front of the Oval security booth.

McClellan informs his interviewer that, quoting the article, "residents have been giving overwhelmingly positive feedback about the department's more central location and the access to the officers." How many residents? Well, since the statement is so general, it could be two or three or maybe six. No mention of the residents who on the TA Facebook page and this blog have been decrying the new location as marring the Oval, as being unsightly and too intrusive in what once was a green, tranquil oasis. No mention of the distress and suffering the construction of the office caused to the residents who live around the new structure and their possible future distress as they live nearby an active large office ("open 24/7") sided by huge generators.

Then we arrive at the Quality of Life issues in the article. This is where blood started shooting out of my eyeballs and my mouth started to foam: "... while preventing and stopping crime is the top priority for the officers, mainly it is quality of life issues that they're responding to on a regular basis, such as loud parties and unregistered dogs." The dog issue is apparently mitigated because the blue registration tags are clearly visible, "eliminating the need to stop all dog owners as they walk through the grounds." Well, practically every time I'm out around the grounds I see unregistered dogs, so something is wrong. Perhaps "boots on the ground," particularly at points around the perimeters of PCVST where non-residents enter with their dogs to use the grounds as a toilet would be prudent. This advice has been given repeatedly, but never acted upon. I've no idea why.

Tenants who have to suffer from noisy neighbors and late-night partying may find great comfort that "McClellan himself will sometimes show up to the offending apartment with a member of the property's legal team when a noise issue is particularly serious and persisting." In other cases, I suppose, you are out of luck. (BTW, has anyone seen McClellan turn up in noise situations? I would assume this would be a very rare occurrence.)

The article continues to proclaim the advantages of all the security cameras about the complex (for which every resident is paying a MCI), but doesn't address one crucial question: Have these security cameras and their monitoring ever stopped a crime in progress?  The answer seems to be, yes, maybe, perhaps, but maybe not, depends on the crime. I'd like to see the real figures, which one day should be asked of McClellan. My hunch is that the cameras around this complex have stopped very few crimes in progress. It's only after the fact, as evidence, that they can be important. (Which is why there is need of--boots on the ground.)

Probably the only good thing about the security monitoring system changing location and being so out in the open to passersby view is that now, unlike previously, the officers who staff the monitors won't be tempted to zero in on hot-babe sunbathers on the Oval or check out Craig's List.

In other places the article stresses that the welcome mat is open to residents to visit the new office and talk to the officers. I like this a lot. I wouldn't mind sharing some tea and biscuits with Chief Bill McClellan, who, as I learned in the article, was once commanding officer of the 71st Precinct in Crown Heights, an area that happens to be my old neighborhood. In between sips of Lipton Tea, I'd ask him, once again, why some banned dog breeds I see are actually registered PCVST dogs. I have a feeling I'd get the same non-answer as I did when I first asked him that question.

UPDATE 3/31: In case anyone wants to comment directly to T & V:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Town-Village/146960575361947

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Town & Village's Promo Puff Article on the New Public Safety Office

.... I'm still trying to get myself off the floor after reading a front page T & V article on the new Public Safety office, which seems not to have been written by a journalist (sorry, Sabina), but by a representative for CWCapital.

More to come, once I recover.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Asbestos Awareness Week, April 1–7.

I was asked to mention this on the blog and certainly find it worthy enough.  Its relevancy may seem tangential at most, but who knows what is the precise asbestos history of PCVST?  (For sure, it was used here.)

Take a look, please:

http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/awareness/#.UzNmO85Midk

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Plan for Serving Alcohol in Oval Cafe Folds....



At least for now....

The word came today on the Town & Village blog.

"A rep for CWCapital, who’d been scheduled to request a wine and beer license for Oval CafĂ© on Thursday, pulled that request today."

The reason given?

"...that application was scrapped due to a timing issue by that representative, Spencer Rothchild of Barrio Foods consulting firm, said Sandro Sherrod, the chair of CB6."

A timing issue? What the hell does that mean? Could it possibly mean that CWCapital and Barrio Foods were not able to go before the Community Board without the intrusion of outraged tenants who had been just alerted to the plan this week on the TA Facebook a few days before a crucial hearing to attain the license?  Do CWCapital and Barrio now need more time to present a coherent and lengthier argument to push this plan through?  Do they need allies?

"A spokesperson for CWCapital said the application was pulled pending consultation with community leaders."

The above seems to indicate, yes, the application was pulled because tenants found out about it and an immediate uproar was created.

Now what? A "consultation" means that CWCapital and Barrio are going to try to convince the TA and our councilman, Dan Garodnick (who seems to be against the idea of Oval Cafe selling alcohol) that the presence of alcohol in the Oval will not be a detriment to the community and will be responsibly dealt with by the cafe and management.

So this is not over yet.  But certainly today's pull-back is a good result.  Yet we must be vigilant. I just don't trust the Powers That Be.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oval Cafe Applies for a Liquor License!!! Seriously.



If it were April 1st, I would think that this was an April Fools' Joke. But, tragically, it's not the 1st of April and it's no joke.

It appears that Barrio Foods Consulting will be applying for a liquor license for Oval Cafe.  A hearing by Community Board Six is scheduled for 7pm, Thursday, March 27, 2014, at Baruch College's Information & Technology Building, 151 E. 25th St., NY, NY, 10010 7th Fl. Rm. 763.

The reason is probably simple: Oval Cafe has not been making money, and now there's a need to aggressively go after profits by introducing alcohol for "residents and their guests." That rumor about the kids' corner at the Cafe being eliminated makes sense now.

Quite simply, this is an outrage, and our stewards, CWCapital and CompassRock, should be thoroughly embarrassed to allow the selling and drinking of alcohol in the Oval--and the Oval Cafe is in the Oval. But, of course, they are not embarrassed, because profits are all they think about. Who cares in those companies about the destruction of the Oval and this community? We've seen the Oval area devastated in the last year, so why not pile on more tackiness? more drunken behavior? more garbage and trash? more rowdiness? more urination (the human kind) on the grass and paths?

You know, not only here on this blog, but elsewhere, tenants used to joke about the possible sale of alcohol inside PCVST for the ever-increasing student and "bro" community, but these were pointed jokes, nothing more. It astounds me that our stewards would be so out-of-touch with the history of this community, the standards this community has lived under, and the family environment that was once the beacon for potential renters.

Every time the Oval is marred, I keep saying, "It can't get worse." But now it has. Or has the potential to get worse, much worse, if Community Board Six okays the liquor license.

I would urge tenants to fight against this introduction of alcohol to the Oval. Let Community Board Six--and our politicians--hear our complaints. I hope that the Tenants Association will likewise take a vigorous stance against this plan. At this point, it appears that its president is acting on his own in opposing the sale of alcohol in the Oval. That surely should, and must, change.

UPDATE: If PCVST were a united community (and it's not due to the shenanigans of our recent landlords) this plan would fail. The community as a whole would boycott Oval Cafe until the sale of alcohol was stopped. Faced with a complete loss of income, the Cafe would have to rescind its alcohol for sale business.

Also, when are we going to get tough on the "for residents and their guests" rule when the Cafe does not card anyone? Surely, that "residents and their guests" necessity is not being adhered to all the time, and therefore, the proper zoning of that space is dubious at the very least.

Another UPDATE: This is winnable, I feel. If enough tenants show up at the hearing, if our local politicians show up also, then the Community Board will have to listen and approach the issue without a rubber stamp.

UPDATE: 3/25/14 - A link to the famous "Fight Club" incident at Oval Lounge, now Oval Cafe. Alcohol was pouring freely for this special gathering of brokers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What Is Kingsley Associates Doing Here?



This was brought to my attention by a blog reader....

Kingsley Associates is an intelligence gathering company for real estate. Its chief duties are in conducting surveys of residents to find out how they can be better served and what causes tenants to leave. But they also identify "best practices" (remember that gag-inducing term?), provide investor perception studies and strategic consulting (I guess the latter is the opposite of non-strategic consulting).... Also noted on their front page slider: "Kingsley's clients include 8 of the 10 largest investment managers."

Anyway, according to the Kingsley Associates website, the company has been used by PCVST in the past 24 months. (You'll also find some familiar companies on the list.)

I know of no tenant who has as yet received a survey from Kingsley (does anyone really need to do a survey here to find out what's wrong with this place--check this blog, the TA Facebook page and even comments on PCVST's own official Facebook), so my guess is that the use of Kingsley is one prelude to a sale of this complex.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Big Shots Rarely Go to Jail

http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2014/03/14/no_ceos_paid_price_for_2008_meltdown_heres_why.html

.... And someone still hasn't paid, either in fines or jail time, for what happened to PCVST.

As a matter of fact, one of the principals involved in the destruction of this community and affordable housing, Robbie Speyer, is the chairman of the powerful Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), which lords over New York City politicians, despite the "will of the people."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Weird things happening to "market-rate" tenant lease renewals

People who are in renovated apartments (ie, true market-rate tenants) and nearing lease renewal should head over to this TA page:

http://www.stpcvta.org/ta/post/early-stuyvesant-town-peter-cooper-lease-renewals

and the discussion about this on the TA Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/stpcvta/

Meanwhile reports of MCI exemptions on rent bills are coming in at the TA Facebook, but still no explanation from the TA, though at least one report suggests these exemptions are the result of negotiations between the TA and CWCapital. Seems these exemptions are on some rent bills, but not on others.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Disturbing Photo

The Oval looks a little too pristine. Makes me nervous. Let's mess it up.

 

Friday, March 7, 2014

I'm So EXCITED!!!



Property Update from PCVST informs us that the former space at the Oval for Public Safety will be relaunching as... Oval Studio!  This "dynamic" space will host such novel activities as....

Yoga
Pilates
Children's Music and Sing-a-Long
Children's Dance

Way to go, CWCapital!

The new Oval Studio should be finished in two months, long before all the Sandy affected buildings in Peter Cooper Village get back to 100%.

No word yet if "Dog Yoga" will be part of the programing, but we hope so!

About those apartment renovations....

Interesting thread on noise and apartment renovations in this forum....  Of course, there's the typical "this is New York, so get used to noise or move" response from some of the commentators. 

http://www.city-data.com/forum/new-york-city/1779068-construction-noise-demo-renovation-apartment-above.html

This is even more interesting, because the tenant confirmed that there was also an asbestos problem with the renovation. The hoops the tenant had to go through will make you depressed.

http://www.tenant.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=8616&sid=29cb5691789e4762e030706cab965aba

Monday, March 3, 2014

Citywide Housing Campaign Launch - Thursday, 11am, City Hall

A STR reader alerted me to this, so for what it's worth....

 http://metcouncilonhousing.org/

- TIME TO TAKE BACK OUR CITY -
A broad coalition of labor unions, community based organizations, tenant associations, and other housing advocates will launch a citywide housing campaign on the steps of City Hall, Thursday March 6 at 11am.

The campaign will focus on key issues and opportunities to show how city government can increase real affordability in housing for all residents. This coalition will build power to move campaigns that focus on preserving affordable housing, ending homelessness, and the responsible development of new affordable housing.



Tune in Wednesday at 6pm for Met Council's new TV show. This week, Jaron Benjamin will rundown the latest events affecting our movement.

WATCH THE SHOW HERE

This is a campaign that will prioritize the New Yorkers left behind by Bloomberg’s housing and development agenda. It’s a campaign to enable our communities to gain access to permanently affordable housing. It will be waged through organizing, major report roll outs, and hard-hitting media work. The coalition's launch will feature a report documenting Bloomberg's housing failures, and show that his "affordable housing" agenda shut out those in need of real affordability.

The campaign launch will cap off an amazing week for tenants: on March 4, tenants are planning a protest of real estate baron Joe Sitt at the LandlordsNY Symposium (contact jdelvalle@fifthave.org for more info) and a demand for Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning (contact 
ericka.s@anhd.org tor rsvp). But whatever you do, don't miss the launch of the citywide campaign that will win Real Affordability for All!

What: Citywide Housing Campaign Launch
When: Thursday, March 6, 11:00am
Where: City Hall Steps 
For more information, contact us at jaron@metcouncilonhousing.org.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Oval: RIP

I have a feeling I may already have titled a post "The Oval: RIP," or something similar, several months ago, but today's impression, when I saw how the new Public Safety office looks from across the Oval, solidifies the harmful, negative change that CWCapital has burdened this community with.  No more is the Oval a haven, no more a tranquil area where one is not aware of being in Manhattan.  A good part of this change occurred in the summer when all the lush foliage around the Oval was removed and replaced by scattered low plantings, but now we have the Public Safety office, from which there is no visual escape, except if you hug the most southern central part of the Oval. The new structure simply dominates the Oval.

The photograph below doesn't do justice to this visual intrusion. You really have to be in the Oval to get a sense of how intrusive is the Public Safety office, with its outside generators and "parking lot"--all of which are built upon a rise, making the entirety that much more visually dominant. The Oval has never seen such a dominating structure before. They even capped it with a white-silvery top that calls attention to itself.

And because of the eradication of high foliage last year, there will be no cover, even when things start blooming again around Stuyvesant Town. Click on photos to make them larger.


A zoom in:


BTW, do note that the Christmas decorations on the pine tree are still up!!!

Meanwhile, as I was taking the above photo, I was able to see a banned, unregistered dog being casually walked around the Oval, the owner unconcerned:


And three areas of dog crap that were already stepped on and spread about:




Stuy Slum Lives!

If I were steward of this place, like CWCapital is, I would be supremely embarrassed by photos such as these. But I guess they have no shame. Because nothing is being done to alleviate the situation of banned breeds being walked in the complex and the many areas of unpicked dog crap.

Meanwhile, the next item of interest will be to see what will take the place of the former Public Safety office:

 What's the betting that it will be a money making venture?

Lee Lorch (1915-2014)



Battles with Stuy Town even then.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/02/nyregion/lee-lorch-desegregation-activist-who-led-stuyvesant-town-effort-dies-at-98.html?hp&_r=0

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Walk Through "A Park Runs Through It"

STPCV was promoted during the Tishman-Speyer days as "A Park Runs Through It," so I thought it would be nice on this sunny Saturday to take a brief tour.

The fencing around the construction of the new management office now contains Orwellian/The Village (a la "The Prisoner") signs that are quite amusing...


"More Convenient. More Attentive." Promises, promises.

Not to worry: "More Family. More Fun"!!!

The artist makes the new playground look like the size of a football field!

What's behind the fence.

 Meanwhile, nearby, dog crap!

A new place to dump garbage, it seems: the back of buildings!

Throughout the complex, fences are in ruins.

I don't think the wind did this. Perhaps it's the entrance to a make-shift dog run.

"A Slum Runs Through It"
 If it's vandalism, our award-winning security system, for which we all are paying an MCI, must have already tagged the culprits.

 
PCV: Now if I see this, why can't management? public safety? maintenance? Hello, is anyone there?
Of course, if we had "boots on the ground," something like this would have been spotted and repaired within half an hour.

Nearby... dog crap again!

Yes, Councilman Dan Garodnick's garbage is still being placed outside his luxury PCV building.

I've never seen it so bad here....

I've never seen it so bad here, so mismanaged with an obvious disdain for tenants from management. And there's hollow silence from the TA and our councilman (who, I believe, still has to take his garbage outside of his PCV building) on several key matters of concern. Perhaps, in the spirit of "need to know," things are "in the works" from the TA and Garodnick that we are not being told about. We do know about the years-long-held fantasy of tenant ownership of this complex. The answer to all our problems, they say.

The TA Facebook page is still a valuable source of tenants' frustrations, however. We read that noisy work on the new Public Safety office was being done even at 10pm (that's not a typo), that an important notice about storage units was handed out with just a three-day window of opportunity for affected tenants to act on, that there's been no progress on the MCIs, or if there has been, it's--surprise, surprise--a secret, that locked bicycles have been removed without notice from management and other bicycles stolen with no clue as to the perpetrators, despite the fact that we have an award-winning security system in place, that maintenance workers are now being used to spy on check apartments for lease violations. And no one knows anything about the soil samples and possible contamination of soil at the area where the new management office is being built. (The website that was monitoring this has slowed down to a stop.) Of course, we still have dog crap about the complex and outsiders walking their pit bulls and German shepherds through the complex with Public Safety seemingly oblivious to the fact, or, by now, just not caring anymore. We still have nighttime noise coming from partying students, etc., etc.

But we all are getting candy vending machines in laundry rooms.