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Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (June 2014)

Take a walk by the Community Center, near 1st Ave, at the loop, and you will see some nice gardening.




There's an awful racket going on during work on the new management office. Wasn't a promise made of no drilling? The DOB has allowed work to proceed after hours and on the weekend. I believe such an allowance is made only for particular, pressing cases, and I don't know if the new management office fits that stipulation. But who cares, right? (Click photo to make larger.)


That's going to be one big cellar extension!



STPCV just loves students and encourages them to rent here. Pictured below is a banner along 1st Ave purposefully directed at students. Other banners abound along that perimeter, promoting other perks in the complex.


Hmm, an "Open House"? I guess apartments are not selling fast enough to fill the vacancies from people needing to leave because 1) school is over, or 2) they can't afford the rent here anymore.


What the sign below should say is "This Gate Will be Closed to Low-Income Minorities Between 2:45pm and 7:15pm Daily." The closing of the gates opposite the Asser Levy pool begins to prevent black and primarily Hispanic youth from going through Peter Cooper Village and Stuy Town on their way home to the Lower East Side.


Let's admit it: Public Safety has given up on the dog situation here. Nowadays, people walking breeds that are banned in the complex or dogs that fall outside of the dog rules (more than 2 dogs, weight limitations, etc.) are never stopped and queried by PS. Nothing is done, even when dog-owners from outside bring in their dogs to STPCV for crap and piss duty, walking right by PS officers. And certain areas, like the back of 510/522 East 20 Street, are now known as depositories for dog turds with no pick-up from dog owners.




Nothing quite exemplifies "luxury living" like seeing dog turds and running streams of dog piss throughout the complex.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

CW Playing Hardball, Why Aren't We?

Everywhere you look, you see CW screwing with tenants, both RS and MR, any way they can. The Roberts settlement and payouts, the MCIs, and undoubtedly more MCIs on the way (the new Public Safety office, the new management office, more walkway repaving to be done, etc.).

Today there was a comment on the TA Facebook page about someone overhearing at least two rental agents advising prospective renters to use Oval Concierge because their packages would get left in the lobby and, presumably, possibly stolen.

Just think: We are paying an MCI for an award-winning security system with over a thousand cameras, including cameras in lobbies, and yet the crime of packages being stolen from the lobby cannot be solved by our crack Public Safety department.  But...you can have your packages delivered to Oval Concierge--at a price, of course.

We have, however, right before us, a potential legal problem for CW, or any landlord, that could shatter the normal way things are run around here. I've noted this problem in the past and am surprised that the TA seems not to have considered it, though with the lack of transparency in that organization, it is possible they have considered it, but aren't telling us their thoughts on the matter.

I'm speaking of the filings to the DOB regarding partition additions, like the one below. (Click on graphic to make larger.)



As one STR reader wrote me:

"The physical modifications to the apartments should have been fought with a restraining order and should now be fought in just the same way. The tenants have all of the ammunition they need. Management submitted false building permits, or made false statements to the building department. A lawsuit to reverse the modifications would stop the current construction and would probably win."

Has the TA looked into these filings? If so, what's been the response from their lawyers? It is inconceivable to me that we can't fight these filings as falsely stating that there is "no change in use, egress or occupancy" with the addition of partitions in an apartment, partitions that can then change a one-bedroom apartment to a two-bedroom, or a two-bedroom to a three bedroom!

When I first addressed this concern, probably years ago, I suspected that the TA didn't want to get involved in any lawsuit because it would put the sale of this complex (to tenants, the TA hoped) in a holding pattern that could extend for years.

But CW is not our friend. Nor was Tishman-Speyer. We have to fight everything here, even such minor things like the "For Residents and Their Guests" enforcement at Oval Cafe and the greenmarket. Why is the TA not mandating that zoning rules for both the cafe and greenmarket be enforced?

And why is there no fight against putting more than three unrelated individuals into an apartment, something against rental law in NYC?

It amazes me at times, and dispirits me, that there's just zero "take-no-prisoners" attitude regarding the battles that we should be engaging in.

Meanwhile, week after week, management continues to find any justification to shaft tenants and make them pay more for "affordable housing." In case you haven't noticed it, management is winning; we are losing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Roberts Tenants Getting Screwed Again?

Many current and former residents of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village who are members of the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” class action are getting less in damages than they were expecting. Specifically, over 5,000 of them have had non-payment deductions taken out of their damages, as well as close to a third taken out for legal fees and expenses, and in some cases, with money also taken out for retroactive MCIs.

More at this link:

http://town-village.com/2014/06/18/many-roberts-tenants-getting-less-money-than-expected/

Required Parking Spaces for ST/PCV Buildings?

I don't have time right now to research this fully, but I believe zoning requires that a certain amount of parking spaces be available to tenants. I was curious about this regarding the new management office being built and the lack of parking spaces in that area now--and certainly for the future.

http://www.tenant.net/Other_Laws/zoning/zonch07.html

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

This Is What I Have to Deal With

I found this comment meant for the Public Safety Cell Phone thread pretty funny and would like to post it here to show blog readers what I have to deal with. These kind of comments generally do not get passed, of course, so you never see them. I also have a tendency not to pass comments that are aching for a flame war with another commentator, though I still let some slip by.

Anyway, here's the comment that got a couple of laughs out of me:

You are an Army veteran with no life, if you use this much time and effort against the New World Order maybe quality of life would be better and people would care but Americans are so dumb down you're like sheeple. Get your head out of your ass and go do some real reporting, instead of staring at some guy in a booth who makes minimum wage. He was probably on his phone looking for a new job compass cock sucks!!!

Where We Are Now

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/real-estate/2014/06/8547200/stuy-town-residents-fighting-again

Extract from above:

But the developments of last week provided some comfort—and breathing room—to both tenants and the officials on their side, leaving them all encouraged by Friday.

First, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer was able to secure commitments from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—the nation's largest sources of housing equity—not to guarantee any deal that does not ensure long-term affordability for the roughly 6,000 units that are below market rate. He said they will not help any purchase that does not have the consent of both the city and tenants, “no ifs, ands or buts.”

“Without Fannie and Freddie's backing, it will be very hard for one of these rapacious lenders to come in and change the whole way Stuy Town is,” Schumer said at the rally Friday morning, where he drew many cheers from the crowd. “It will be very hard for them to say they are just getting rid of the affordability and charge any rate the market wants.”

Then, Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, was able to secure a commitment of her own: CWCapital agreed to give the city at least 60 days to find a way to support a sale that would indeed guarantee the long-term affordability for those 6,000 units. Andrew MacArthur, the managing director of CWCapital, put the agreement in writing by way of a letter dated last Wednesday. He said the plan has been for some time to begin “evaluating resolution alternatives in late 2014 or early 2015.”

“As such, we have no immediate intention of pursuing a resolution of the property and believe we should both commit the next 60 days to exploring structures that could ensure the continuance of some of the City's policy objectives, while also allowing us to satisfy our obligations to our investors,” he wrote to Glen.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Public Safety More Interested in Their Cell Phones

Right now, there's a public safety officer inside the Oval guard booth. Two bicycles pass him by, but he doesn't notice because his eyes are buried into the wonders that his cell phone offers. Two more bicycles pass him by, and by chance he raises his head. He notices them, doesn't move, and then they are already exiting the Oval. He changes position...and goes back to his cell phone.

Just now a food delivery guy riding a bicycle goes by the booth. Not sure if the public safety officer has stopped his cell phone activity, but even if he has, he doesn't do anything.

Several bicycles have passed him by in the space of five minutes, but this guy is immobile inside the guard booth.

Have a nice day!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Trouble on the Affordable Housing Front?

The most prominent concern was found in this report:

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/real-estate/2014/06/8547130/glen-talks-housing-stuy-town-congressional-delegation

And this statement:

>>The lawmakers told Glen they believe it is important to create “'technical assistance teams' to work with New York City residents residing in affordable housing who may be notified of the need to move to another unit in order to update their current units,” Maloney's office said.<<

Technical assistance teams? Helping tenants who will need to move to another unit?

While folks are picturing tenants being moved permanently to a lesser apartment, even in another part of the city, I do think (and hope) that what the above means is that tenants who live in buildings/apartments that are in severe disrepair may need to move--temporarily--while their apartment or building is fixed up and made habitable. If the above doesn't mean that, then we are in for some serious trouble. (You say you want a revolution?)

The other concern, that I have at least, is that the affordable housing that may be built will be butt-ugly.

Like Sugar Hill in Harlem:


As NYC builds affordable housing, it has to make sure not to hire architects who fashion something resembling a cross between a prison facility and a government office in the old Soviet Union. Let's stop it with the egos of architects who desire to be different and noticed. Let's focus on crafting buildings that will give residents a sense of home and beauty. Can you imagine if you were forced by a "technical assistance team" to move from ST/PCV into the above?

More on Sugar Hill here.

The Rally

A very good turn-out, even with the rain and the rally taking place on a work-day. A couple of hundred tenants, to be sure.

Many politicos there, including the old pro Schumer and Carolyn Maloney. Schumer promised that what happened before, with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae propping up predatory investment in ST/PCV, would not occur again.

The rally was exuberant and needed. The perfect cap-off did not happen, however. Mayor De Blasio did not show up. His presence at the end, emerging from within City Hall to speak to tenants, would have been inspiring and would have provided a joyful and heartening send-off to the crowds that braved some serious intermittent downpours to arrive at City Hall and stand up for affordable housing.

I'm glad I went. And thanks to those that did attend: tenants and politicians.





Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Case for Attending the City Hall Rally

There's not much of one to be made, as I don't think the presence of tenants this Friday will alter anything that's already in the works. And the speeches by our politicians while they knit their brows in serious concern will be predictable and in some cases annoying because of their familiarity and lack of concrete results.

But, I'm still planning on going.

I asked myself the other day if I would be disappointed if Mayor Blasio did not show up at the rally to support ST/PCV tenants and the cause of affordable housing. For sure, I would be disappointed. If I want him to show up, why wouldn't I show up?

At this time, it is no big deal for me to head down to City Hall on a Friday morning. I have the day off (as much as an independent contractor can have the day off who needs to work almost every day to afford affordable housing) and I love walking and I'm interesting in seeing--and gauging--what happens.

It may be raining, but that's a minor inconvenience.  I--we--have suffered worse than some rain bouncing off our umbrellas and our shoes getting wet.

So, no high hopes and low expectations from me.  But I don't feel right about abandoning the fellow tenants who will be there, even if some are there for misguided reasons. And I do feel right about, at the very least, standing with those who oppose the current predator and future predators around us, though as we know these predators don't give a rat's ass about us or our rallies.

We must do better in the future.

The rally will be held Friday the 13th (!) at the City Hall steps from10:00am - 11:30am.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Odds and Ends in June, 2014

 

Do you suppose that when Dan Garodnick uses the Oval Cafe, he asks why there are no "For Residents and Their Guests" signs about or why staff doesn't check IDs?  Or is the answer that he simply doesn't care after he and the DOB agreed that the Oval Cafe was only meeting zoning requirements if it was just for "residents and their guests"?

 

And, yes, the Oval Cafe restroom is for customers only now. You don't quality if you are a resident or a guest of a resident, but you do qualify if you buy something.  And, yes again: I tried the door and it was indeed locked.


File the above photo in "Stuy Slum." This the way the 20th Street Loop frequently looks as you near its exit--that is when there's no mound of garbage or discarded furniture and mattresses.


CWCapital loves students! The company certainly knows where its bread is buttered!


Let's hide it as best we can. The new Public Safety office is getting camouflage.


It's beginning to resemble Jones Beach! Residents and their guests (and hordes of outsiders) flock to the Oval Lawn. Hey, New York City, it's open to everyone! Come on down!


Epic!


Epic continued.


Epic continued again.


Another day, another epic!


No wonder Oval Cafe wants a license to sell alcohol. They'd make a fortune! Meanwhile, the bros bring their own to the Oval Lawn. At least they are nice enough to use our garbage facilities.


Open food left overnight at the Oval Lawn. The rats thank you.


Our grounds are so nice, and Public Safety has completely given up checking for ST/PCV dog tags, that dog trainers/walkers find it a wonderful place to bring their banned breeds.


I love the smell of fresh dog urine in the morning! I'm considering entering this photograph in a contest, as it's very unique and shows one of the charms of living in this complex.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Yes, We Live in the Projects

This is Stuyvesant Town:


Here are some photos of our project neighbors to the south of us. Some of you, perhaps many of you, may be in for a surprise, as you probably consider these places dangerous and never visit them.  But, basically, these residential areas and ST/PCV are projects. You are probably paying far, far more to live in your project building, however.















There's a reason you don't want to consider that you are living in the projects, as it would be shocking to your self-identity. You'd also feel the landlord is ripping you off, most particularly if you are paying market rate. Your landlord wants you believe that you are living in luxury, as he provides you with cheap-trick amenities to try to hide the obvious truth.

There are, however, differences between ST/PCV and a few of these other projects:

1) ST/PCV is huge, dwarfing in size other project areas. Which is why there is so much interest in acquiring ST/PCV...for the land.

2) We are closer to the center of the city, with easier access to points north and south than many of our project neighbors. (And some residents still bitch about our location!)

3) The park-like grounds are more expansive, as are the playgrounds. (However, along the East River by the above projects are many fields that put what we have to shame.)

4) There is a greater security presence in ST/PCV.

5) The grounds tend to be better kept and more frequently attended to.

6) A significant difference: There are very few minorities (blacks and Hispanics) living in our community. I'm not saying that it's racist to desire to live here--search your conscience--but race plays a part of the appeal of ST/PCV. Let's put it down to "birds of a feather like to flock together."

But, yes, we are living in the projects. This is why ST/PCV only works if the rents are affordable. Otherwise, tenants are being ripped off big time.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Garodnick Applauds CW Take-Over

This is getting even more interesting.

 http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20140605/REAL_ESTATE/140609919/cwcapital-takes-title-to-stuy-town-cancels-auction#

CWCapital Asset Management took title to Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, Manhattan's largest apartment complex, and canceled an auction for control of the property....

"This eliminates the circus that could have unfolded at a mezzanine foreclosure sale," City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who lives in the complex, said in an e-mailed statement. "It is the right next step that will give time for a more considered process that can protect not only the bondholders, but also the tenants and the city."

And it's nice to know that CW cares about us:

CWCapital "determined this action to be in the best interest of the certificate holders and provided the greatest stability for the community," the company said Thursday in an e-mailed statement.

More at the above link.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

If You Can Get Away With It, Why Not?

That seems to be the philosophy regarding potential DOB violations.


The above is a complaint about work being done after hours. The DOB inspector was not able to access the apartment twice, and left behind a LS-4.

An LS-4 "LS-4 posted" means: "DOB couldn't get access, so mailed the owner a letter asking him/her to schedule an inspection." http://www.city-data.com/forum/new-york-city/624564-what-happens-when-inspectors-dob-cant.html#ixzz33izEYbA8

If there's no more info on the DOB site: "If there's nothing at all but an LS-4, there's a chance that there was no followup, the complaint just fell into some black hole (or was "adminstratively" closed, which is pretty much the same thing), and it's still in violation." http://www.city-data.com/forum/new-york-city/624564-what-happens-when-inspectors-dob-cant.html#ixzz33izdYEDy

Or quite simply: "nothing happens. if the inspector cant gain access, then he/she can't issue a violation, because nothing was inspected. the inspector needs to have access to determine if anything is wrong." http://www.city-data.com/forum/new-york-city/624564-what-happens-when-inspectors-dob-cant.html#ixzz33izq1t9Q

As you can read, the case was not resolved but "closed."

Below is a complaint about partitions being put up, but no work permit posted. Same thing happened. The inspector couldn't gain access. Case closed.


Another complaint about no work permits posted. The inspector can't get in. Case closed.


And here's a complaint about no safety net during brick pointing work. The complaint was received 12/19/2012, but inspected only three weeks later, not being considered a Priority A matter, which gets quicker attention. By time the inspector got there, there was no brick pointing work being done. Case: Resolved.