The truth about a complex built for veterans and the middle class and how it has evolved through the years to become one of the more interesting and controversial of New York stories.
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Before we can make an assessment about our new landlord, Blackstone and Ivanhoe?
The "deal" was accepted in late October and our new landlord officially took over a week ago. One would think that in November and December (almost to end) the wheels must have been turning as to how to manage this property and what changes are going to be necessary. The tenant survey is done, the results are in.
For sure, I'm an impatient fellow here, but I'd like to see something start changing for the better soon. Right now, there seems to be no change at all, but just a continual sinking.
It's theirs. My gut feeling: Not much will change. Hopefully it won't get worse.
The partitioning of apartments will continue, the packing of students into apartments will continue, the dog refuse stains will continue, the presence of breeds not allowed will continue (along with weight limits being ignored), the circus amenities will continue, the noise of morning and weekend construction and seasonal leaf-blowing will continue.... As before, there will be temporary attempts made to address the problem on some of these issues, but after a week or two, it will be back to the same old, same old.
Police are on the lookout for two men who held up a Stuyvesant Town T-Mobile store at gunpoint on Sunday.
At December 13 at 3:30 p.m., the suspects walked into the store located at 322 First Avenue and East 19th Street. While one of them waved a gun around, the men ordered two employees and one male customer into a back room. The suspects then forced an employee to turn over 40 Apple and Samsung phones off a shelf as well as approximately $1500 in cash from a safe. Video surveillance shows the employee doing this as the customer is made to lie down on the floor nearby with his head down.
The first suspect is described as black, between 30 to 40 years-old, around 5 ft. 11 ins., approximately 270 lbs. and has facial hair. He was last seen wearing a dark grey hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.
The other suspect is black, approximately 25 years-old, around 5 ft. 9 ins. and approximately 170lbs. He was last seen wearing a light grey hooded sweatshirt and dark pants.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
"In January, about a week after City Councilman Daniel Garodnick lost the race for council speaker, he was the belle of the real-estate industry's annual ball. Mr. Garodnick sat on the stage with other dignitaries at the New York Hilton, two seats down from Alicia Glen, a powerful deputy mayor who oversees housing and economic development. No one at the Real Estate Board of New York's banquet attracted a bigger cluster of executives and lobbyists waiting for a word than the 42-year old councilman for Manhattan's East Side."
"The city's real-estate world continues to open its wallet to Mr. Garodnick. In the most recent election cycle, he received more than $200,000 of contributions from the industry, out of about $1 million, according to a Wall Street Journal calculation."
So, yeah, it would be tough for Dan to side with small businesses. Understood.
Nothing quite says dorm like a mass mailing to Stuyvesant Town tenants seeking healthy males "currently attending a four year university, or already holding a bachelors degree" for donations to a sperm bank. Mass mailings like these, inserted into mail boxes by the post office with no address on them, are costly, so this Manhattan sperm bank must be sure that its mailing will reach a sizable, potentially receptive readership.
Flyers with the information below are located at the 14th Street Associated Supermarket. I've copied all the info. It is vital that the Small Business Jobs Survival Act gets passed. As you will read, Dan Gardonick, our councilman, has so far refused to support this legislation, which not only affects Associated, but the remaining Mom & Pop stores in the city. Though our Tenants Association took a welcome proactive part in supporting Associated, it has likewise not taken a decisive step to publicly support this legislation, priding itself, instead, on getting, with Garodnick, a "promise" from our future landlord that some type of affordable supermarket may replace Associated.
We need your help to survive in business. Even though we are willing to pay a reasonable rent increase and our customers want us to stay in business, our landlord refuses to give us a new lease.
In NYC residential tenants have rights and protection when their leases expire; unfortunately for us and other business owners there are no rights to renewal for commercial tenants when our leases expire. For every business owner, their future and the future of their employees is solely in the hands of the landlord. With long established small businesses being forced to close in record numbers due to exorbitant rent increases or landlords refusing to negotiate with them, the majority of progressive Council Members sponsored a bill, The Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA), which gives rights to business owners to negotiate fair leases and survive. Every Manhattan Council Member, except one, is a strong sponsor of the SBJSA and committed to stopping the closing of small businesses. The Council Member who refuses to support any legislation to give small business owners rights is CM Dan Garodnick. While CM Garodnick claims he is concerned about The Associated closing, the only action he has taken is reaching out to the landlord who "promised" him that in the future, another supermarket will be at this location.
This is not what the public wants, empty pledges from landlords. Instead of investing energy in making deals and promises with landlords, CM Garodnick could easily join the Manhattan delegation by adding his name to the SBJSA that would literally save The Associated, and every other local Mom & Pop in NYC. Please contact CM Garodnick and demand he sponsor the SBJSA, a bill that will save your supermarket, and demand he ask Speaker Mark-Viverito to hold a Public Hearing and vote on this vital bill. The very few remaining small business owners in CM Garodnick's distrcit who are struggling to survive and are at the mercy of greedly landlords deserve and are entitled to a full vote by the City Council.
1) We are angered when developers seize our commonly shared light, air, gardens, and iconic views for private consumption.
2) We are aggrieved when we see developers plunder our historic neighborhoods and bury them in a sea of glass, all for luxury housing that destroys more affordable apartments than they create.
3) We are dismayed that small businesses are being hounded out of their premises by an army of banks and chain stores.
4) Many parts of our city are already too dense such that the public infrastructure in those places cannot support more people without a decline in the quality of life, destruction of historic fabric, and deterioration of the urban experience that makes New York so great.
5) Economic growth and affordable housing are indisputably compatible with both a human-scaled city and the preservation of our historic neighborhoods and architecture.
We conclude that reform must take place or the unique character of New York City will be lost forever.
More at the above link, including a link to sign a petition.
I wonder if our councilman Dan Garodnick will sign this petition?
There's also a long list of sponsor organizations. Perhaps the TA can be induced to join this effort???
Basically, after reading this, you will realize that, long-term, it's over for affordable housing in ST/PCV. The impetus behind creating ST/PCV ("that families of moderate means might live in health, comfort and dignity in park-like communities"), the goal that was met for decades, officially expired with the "deal" with Blackstone. Everyone lied to us while they went about their business.
Former president of the Tenants Association, John Marsh, posted on the TA Facebook: "I
would happily pay and [sic] MCI to have my a/c's relocated to below my
window. I would pay because I value light and the ability to open more
windows in the fall."
Thankfully, admin "Peter Stuyvesant" replied: "There
are many people here who can't afford another MCI, and the A/C through
the wall MCI would be huge, especially if it's done in every room that
can accommodate an A/C. The TA, as you well know, has fought every MCI
large and small, and the community has been behind that. Be careful what
you wish for."
Also of concern is the issue of forcing tenants to have this upgrade (placing A/C units in the wall below a window). I don't think this is in works from the landlord, but who knows? So far this upgrade has only been done to an apartment whose tenant has vacated and in preparation for a new tenant. (I'm not sure if a tenant can request such an upgrade, but it's possible.)
This reminds me that in the Spring or early Summer, I saw a couple of young people studying the exterior of buildings and jotting things down on pads. Were they investigating how many A/C units there were? Obviously, management knows how may apartments have A/C, but perhaps this was a study to verify the number. Of course, this activity could have been completely unrelated. I just thought it strange.
"...nothing herein shall prohibit Purchaser from using units at the Property to temporarily house tenants while such tenants' units are being renovated or repaired."
Now for this to make complete sense, it would mean that the tenant would already have to be an existing tenant. I don't know of a case where a repair would necessitate the removal of a tenant (unless something like a flooding disaster or fire occurs), so I'm zeroing in on the "renovated" aspect. So the agreement allows temporary housing, but also, by inference, allows the renovation of apartments either not renovated or not fully renovated (such as the installation of an AC unit in a wall). I'm not that concerned about the AC aspect (which shouldn't necessitate a tenant's temporary removal from the tenant's apartment), but what concerns me is the temporary removal of a tenant from a non-renovated apartment, one that is fully under rent stabilization, pre-Roberts, so that the Purchaser (Blackstone) can renovate the apartment, thereby dramatically increasing the unit's "base rent." (Rent for the current tenant would still have to be within RS guidelines, of course). This renovation could also include the merging of apartments that would provide extra space for tenants who wish to significantly enlarge their current apartments. (More noise! More dust and debris!) Unless the tenant's temporary removal is voluntary from the tenant's perspective (yes, a tenant may wish to "upgrade" and pay more!), in no way can a forced temporary removal be acceptable!
I AM NOT STATING THAT THIS WILL OR COULD HAPPEN, BUT THAT THERE MUST BE SOMETHING IN WRITING STATING THAT IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.
And remember, this was back years ago, before Tishman-Speyer bought the property! Matters have progressed far more to tenants' detriment.
"We believe ongoing deregulation will continue to allow new ownership to fully leverage the unparalleled competitive advantages of the Complex and take advantage of the soaring rental market."
"Over $320 million in capital improvements and apartment renovations since 2002 have reinvigorated and refined the image of the Complex." "New ownership has infinite opportunities to personalize, improve and transform the Complex into the city's most prominent market rate master community." (Emphasis mine.) "Building upon the Complex's unmatched name recognition, the PCV/ST 'brand' is being gradually transformed into Manhattan's most desirable market rate master community. The City's dramatically appreciating residential rental market is aiding in this transition, as is the comprehensive capital improvement plan undertaken by current ownership. New owners will have the unique opportunity to put their personal stamp on the City's largest and most famous apartment complex, utilizing a variety of creative strategies to maximize investment returns." (Emphasis mine.)
After you read this, you will understand that the downfall of STPCV started with Met Life. Tishman-Speyer just picked up the ball and ran with it big time.
This will make it plain that NO ONE who purchases this property is interested in long-term rent affordability for people of moderate means.
This is all that really matters to these folks. As the saying goes, they are laughing all the way to the bank.The TA and our man Dan were absent from aggressively combating what was, and still is, going on here.
Will things be different, now that Blackstone is coming up?
Note the quote from Michael McKee of Tenants PAC, about the only guy I trust in commenting honestly about ST/PCV.
I'd also like to alert readers of this blog to this Letter to the Editor that's on the Town & Village website, a letter that speaks very eloquently and persuasively for those residents who are not satisfied with the deal:
A Stuy Town Report reader informed us of the forthcoming request by Chipotle for a liquor license. Chipotle is going to be our neighbor soon. The rapid availability of alcohol to the student population here may be of concern to us, so I'm posting this info below. And thanks to the person who alerted me to this.
BTW, unless I'm reading the law wrong, the legal drinking age in New York starts at 21. And yet I see many students in Hane and Vamos who appear underage drinking alcohol. And now Petite Abeille is promoting a "college night," offering $3 beers and $5 beers with a shot of whiskey! $10 for a pitcher! (Let's not also forget that Oval Cafe was hoping to obtain a liquor license, too, before resident outrage shut that idea down, at least temporarily.) Is anyone carding the students taking advantage of the easy flow of alcohol in these establishments? (And carding with the knowledge and skill of spotting fake IDs.) Have the police checked? I don't want to spoil anyone's fun, but if student drinking IS a problem in this community, then these issues have to be addressed.
Meanwhile, here is the Chipotle info:
Chipotle is asking for a liquor license for its new location in Stuy
Town. The Communty Board 6 meeting is this Thursday. Oct 29th at 7PM in
Bellevue. Lots of college kids will be piling into Chipotle all night,
much like the location on 23rd St which is a zoo at night. This will
create noise and bring more litter, mice, rats and drunks into StuyTown
since Chipotle serves both Margaritas and beer. If you want to oppose
the liquor license contact the Community Board today or show up at the
meeting this Thursday:
Business Affairs & Street Activities Committee
When: Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 7:00 pm
Where: Bellevue Hospital Center, 462 1st Ave, NY, NY, 10016
Old Medical Library - 8th Fl.
9i. New OP Liq. Lic, Chipotle Mexican Grill of Colorado, LLC dba Chipotle Mexican Grill,
286 1st Ave @E. 17th St. Reso.
you can't attend the meeting, here is the CB6 contact information. Even
a few people opposing a liquor license on valid grounds is enough for
the board to oppose it. The final decision then goes to the State Liquor
Authority, but they use the recommendations of the Community Board to
guide their decisions.
Community Board Six Manhattan
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 308
New York, NY 10017
"City Hall just released details of the deal. Another 1,400 apartments that were going to lose all rent protections in 2020 will get another five years of such protection with rent hikes capped at 5 percent per year. And the administration notes that some market rents in the complex were as high as $10,000 a month. By that measure, $3,200 is a bargain."
If true, this means that the "base rent" of some apartments may have gone up 10K per month, an astonishingly high number. My assumption is that no tenant is currently paying that much, but rather a far lower "preferential rent," but this info is still troubling, as it indicates the success Tishman-Speyer and CWCapital have had in raising the base rents of MR units.
"This yardstick of affordability for an apartment for a family of
three compares to a citywide median household income of about $60,000,
less than half this amount. In Brooklyn and the Bronx, the median income
is even less—about $45,000 in Brooklyn and less than $40,000 in the
Bronx, the city’s poorest borough.
"This notion of affordability is
pitched to the top 10 percent of the city’s earners, at best. In
addition, in a backhanded admission of just how limited this deal is,
Blackstone tosses a few tiny crumbs to families that fall below
six-figure annual incomes. The owners promise to put aside 500
apartments in the complex, less than 5 percent of the total, for
families making up to $62,150 annually. They would pay up to $1,553 a
month for two bedrooms. Even this figure, covering a tiny fraction of
the apartments in the complex, is beyond the means of a majority of
Just got back after the Baruch meeting and pre-dinner afterward.
I'll be adding more to this post, but will be letting comments through now.
My take was that it was a productive meeting, with some high points. Several important issues were clarified, though I still have questions and doubts. That said, it appears that Blackstone wishes and encourages dialogue with tenants, which is a healthy and productive attitude to have. The company is extending its hand to tenants and we should meet that hand. Of course we have to be vigilant, and the future may show that Blackstone's currently-stated attitude will dissipate. I hope not, for all of our sakes.
Clearly, there are losers in this deal. Unfortunately, I think market rate tenants are not going to be happy in the coming years. Roberts tenants are probably also going to feel disappointed. And, yes, it seems as if condo tenant ownership is dead, so those who were pinning their hopes on that are going to be really disappointed. (BTW, this blog has always stated that the hope for condo conversion was in vain. I was never swayed by condo-conversion, nor by the efforts of the TA to fight for it. Several years ago someone with far more knowledge about these matters, a sort of insider who must remain anonymous, told me that this place would never go condo. He was right. And I reported his opinion here numerous times.)
The winner at this time is affordable housing. At least for 20 years. Unfortunately this affordable housing is limited to less than half of the units here. Effectively, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Copper Village have ceased to be a shining light of wide-scale affordable middle-class housing. But such housing still is not dead, though we need to review the definitions of what constitutes middle-class housing in New York to see if it is now less saved than apparent. While it is true that older RS tenants in non-renovated apartments were protected and still are protected by the regular RS laws, the units themselves were being gradually lost year by year as the older RS tenants moved out or died. This new deal secures 5000 units as affordable housing for twenty years regardless of tenant turnover. However, the question of what happens after twenty years to those units that will be newly rented still remains.
Blackstone promises to examine the issues of noise, MCIs, the student population and who runs the daily managerial tasks of this complex. CompassRock seems to be on life-support with not much time to live.
* * *
Yes, Mayor de Blasio showed up, as did Senator Schumer. During de Blasio's speech someone in the audience started to loudly voice some complaints and was eventually escorted out by two security personnel. While I'm not really a Schumer fan, I have to say his speech was perfect. He always speaks engagingly and with passion about New York and its people. A legendary politician of the old school. Sadly, he looked not that well health-wise, though it could be just age catching up to him or maybe he was just tired. I wish him well.
We are living in a historic time in the life of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. This complex was created in the 1940s so that "families of moderate means might live in
health, comfort and dignity in park-like communities and that a pattern
might be set of private enterprise productively devoted to public
service." It was the largest such complex and community not only in the city, but in the country. There have been several stewards of STPCV: the owners, the city (its politicians), and its residents. The prime element of importance was, traditionally, "affordability." Affordability for people of "moderate means." Yes, times do change. And since the sale to Tishman-Speyer, the change for this community has been fairly rapid and even aggressive. It seems that at this point the ideal of families of moderate means living here is on life-support.
We, the tenants, are still partial stewards of this complex. We have a voice. We can give up on STPCV and accept the progressive unaffordability of STPCV for the true middle class. We can, ultimately, move out or be forced to move out due to financial considerations. But we can be heard. At least for now. And not just be heard for our own self interests, but for the history and tradition of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Today: Saturday, October 24, 1pm. Baruch College, Mason Hall, 23rd Street and Lexington Ave. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. A meeting about the new sale of STPCV. Doors open at 12:30, but expect a line to start forming before then.
In order to just focus on the time and place for this meeting, I am leaving out the comment section for this post. There will be a comment section in the next post, which will be dedicated to your reactions to the Baruch meeting.
"After 20 years, the apartments will go to market-rate unless a future
mayor subsidizes them again. Those who have been incentivized to put
down roots will leave without any equity in the apartments they've
called home. In the end, the money buys time and not much else."
In preparation for the forthcoming meeting between tenants and Blackstone this Saturday, 1pm, at Baruch College, I will be listing questions that I feel need answering (though, truthfully, we can already suspect the answers or equivocations on a good number of them). This is a fluid list, so if you'd like to add to it, please do so in the comment section, whereupon I will place your questions here if they are pertinent. Also be aware that I will be away periodically from internet access and unable to monitor these comments immediately. But I will get to them eventually! Thanks.
1) The agreement secures a portion of the apartments here as "affordable housing" for the next twenty years. What happens after those 20 years?
2) Is there anything in the agreement that has tenants surrendering their normal RS rights at any time in the future?
3) Roberts case tenants will have a cap placed on their rent after 2020 at 5%. Is this 5% yearly? Is there any cap on rent for these tenants in the years before 2020?
4) Will MCIs continue to be requested on this property by Blackstone?
5) Will another entity replace CompassRock to run and maintain the property?
6) Will Blackstone use the possibility of STPCV's "air-rights" to sell to another entity in the city?
7) Will non-renovated apartments continue to get renovated once their tenants leave or die?
8) Will Blackstone continue to partition apartments with new walls to effectively add a new room to the existing room count?
9) Will Blackstone continue solicit a student population to rent here and market to this population?
10) How will Blackstone make sure that no more than three unrelated people occupy an apartment?
11) How will Blackstone make sure that the dog rules of STPCV are adhered to, particularly in regard to size and breed limits, which have been basically ignored by current management for years now.
12) How will Blackstone make sure that our walkways are properly cleaned and fixed?
13) Will Blackstone continue the practice of unwelcome "wake-up calls" from early morning construction, renovation, leaf-blowing?
14) Will tenants be able to read the full agreement, not just a summary?
15) Will tenants be able to find out just what the dynamics are of the tenant population here; ie, how many tenants live in non-renovated apartment, how many are "Roberts case" tenants, market-rate tenants, how many apartments are currently filled by students?
16) Will there be any additions to existing buildings?
17) Will there be any changes to the Oval area?
18) Will there be retail stores in the Oval area--for "residents and their guests" of course!
19) Will there be any checks that only "residents and their guests" are using the facilities and amenities of STPCV. (Currently there are no such checks at Oval Cafe or the Green Market.)
20) With the mandate to secure a portion of the units here as "affordable," how does Blackstone and its Canadian partner envision achieving a healthy profit from the property after acquiring it for 5.3 billion dollars?
21) Does Blackstone see itself as selling the property within the next 50 years? In other words, how long range is Blackstone's commitment to STPCV?
22) After 20 years, will Blackstone have the freedom to level the current buildings here and build a new complex of high-valued high rises?
23) Will the lottery for new "affordable" housing include current residents or will it be open only to potential new renters?
24) If the lottery is for current residents also, will the winners have to move out of their current apartment to one that is selected by Blackstone?
25) When did the TA know that this deal was in the works and that tenant ownership was a dead issue? When did our councilman, Dan Garodnick, know?
26) Will Blackstone still retain a dog-friendly policy to new renters?
27) Will MR tenants be bearing the burden of higher-than-normal rent
increases to make up for gaps caused by more rent-protected units?
28) Associated Supermarket on 14th Street has been a vital presence in this community, offering affordable goods to our population, some of whom are on fixed incomes. Will Blackstone offer a reasonable lease-renewal to Associated or drive them out for a more deluxe entity with deluxe prices to match?
29) (To the TA/Garodnick) How did we get to this point with a deal to another huge corporation like Blackstone?
30) (To the TA/Garodnick) Why did the effort to convert die without even so much as a whimper?
There are upwards of 30,000 people in this complex that they sold this
idea to. Did they think we'd just forget?
31) How did there get to be a buyer without tenants being given serious
consideration as a buyer? Why would CW Capital prefer one buyer over another if they
both could potentially have the financing?
32) Assuming that apartment renovations and MCIs continue, will the new tenants in "affordable" units have an unpleasant surprise after 20 years with a rent that will be adjusted to reflect the renovations and MCIs and that will go far beyond the previouis $3,200 cap for these apartments?
33) Will there ever be a time when STPCV will be free from construction, renovation and the disruption and noise from these? A time when residents can finally live in peace?
Most of this is puffery with the main points of interest for us being: "As part of the negotiations with the tenants and Mayor de Blasio,
Blackstone has committed to preserving 5,000 rent-stabilized units for
the next generation of middle-class residents. Under this deal, tenants
who are currently in rent-stabilized units will be protected by
rent-stabilization laws for as long as they reside in their apartment,
and they are further protected by the City's agreement, which restricts
the rent that can be charged on 5,000 units for the next 20-25 years,
giving the new owner little incentive to turn over the units. And that
timeframe could be extended down the line (as has happened many times in
Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper since the early 1970s), with new
agreements between the owners and the City or State."
Okay, we already know that rent-stabilization laws will protect rent-stabilized units, so the only "big deal" here seems to be a cap on the amount of rent that can be charged for these units--$3,200. I would assume that currently there are no such RS older apartments remotely close to that rent, and that most are in the 2K range and lower. RS protections in place already will save these apartments from excessive rents, unless, of course, RS protections evaporate or are lessened considerably, a near impossibility given the backlash that would occur from NYC tenants in general. I completely disregard, as we all should, the possibility of "new agreements between the owners and the City or State." Don't put into the bank what is not in your hand. I suspect we will be hearing quite a bit of such tenant friendly possibilities from those who are pushing the Blackstone deal.
"Blackstone has also agreed to cap rent increases on about 1,400
tenants affected by the Roberts case, whose below-market-rate units
could have been immediately brought to the market when the J-51 property
tax abatement expires in 2020."
Not sure what is being presented here. It seems as if the cap on rent for the Roberts case tenants comes into play in 2020 and then at 5%, which seems to me too high considering what these tenants are paying now and will be paying as the years go by. Does any rent cap exist for these tenants now and for the next 5 years? If not, it's going to be open season on these tenants for them to pay the "base rent" of their units rather than the "preferential rent" they may have been paying.
>>Residents also gave Blackstone’s Jonathan Gray an earful after the press conference. When one resident asked if CompassRock would continue to maintain the complex, he asked, “What do you think of them?” The tenant then said, “Get rid of them,” before several other tenants also began descending on him with their own complaints.<<
So Blackstone's Jonathan Gray doesn't have a clue that CompassRock is despised by tenants. Just has he doesn't have a clue that the tenants here have not chosen to live in this community because of amenities, which his company considers a "key part" of the longstanding culture here.
This Saturday at Baruch let's clue in Blackstone about what we want and what is going on here that we don't want.
I'm noticing a very recent barrage of comments, seemingly from one individual, that pronounce and amplify the notion that our MR tenants basically hate the older RS tenants. These comments are coming at a time when it's unity among tenants, rather than divisiveness, that is crucial. That these negative comments come at this important time is rather suspicious to me. While I have no evidence, and suspect that I am wrong, please be aware that there are entities reading this blog who may wish to use the old-age plan of "divide and conquer." Be aware that individuals from CWCapital to our forthcoming owner Blackstone probably monitor and try to influence what social media states about their companies and plans. Again, I have no proof that this is happening in this case.
Whatever the case, any comments that try to spark a divisiveness among tenants at this point in time will have a hard time getting through. Yes, I will fight for the older RS tenants (of whom I am one), but I will also fight for our newer MR tenants who wish simply to be left in peace and raise their families here. It seems like they may be the ones who will get royally screwed in this Blackstone deal in the near future (older RS tenants in 20 years), and if such is the case, I would feel very sorry to potentially lose the families that I call my neighbors.
And even if there is some conflict among certain members of both communities (I've never had such negative experiences, btw), we are at a crucial point in the life of this community where we need to help each other and reach out a friendly hand to those whom we may have had some conflict with. Remember who the real enemy is and what the real problems are. That should be the focus. Nothing else.
>>“They’re not a charity,” said Dave Bragg, a real
estate analyst at Green Street Advisors. “They’re one of the savviest
dealmakers in all of real estate. It’s interesting to see that they
think they’ve got a great deal, while the city is celebrating this as a
great deal for affordable housing.”
expects that Blackstone will seek to cut managerial expenses. And with a
seemingly unquenchable thirst for housing, rents are destined to rise
for more than 50 percent of the apartments that are already going for
market rents, at $4,000 to $7,000 a month.<<
The possibility of something like this NEEDS TO BE SETTLED AT THE BARUCH MEETING.
All of us tenants need to fight for our neighbors, every legitimate long-term renter in this community!
The TA Facebook contains a powerful open letter to our councilman Dan Garodnick and TA president Susan Steinberg from a tenant, Michael Feld. While I think tenant ownership of the property had serious concerns for the tenants who were not going to purchase their apartments, I think the letter speaks authoritatively and knowledgeably about matters we should all be aware of, and showcases that not all tenants are glowing about the deal made with Blackstone, which is the spin now from Blackstone and Garodnick. On behalf of this tenant, I thank you, Mr. Feld, for speaking out. And folks, don't forget that we will all have an opportunity (hopefully!) of speaking out at the forthcoming meeting with Blackstone and tenants this Saturday at Baruch College at 1pm. I will have more information about this in a forthcoming blog post.
Here is the letter I am sending to Dan Garodnick and Susan Steinberg:
An Open Letter to Dan Garodnick and Susan Steinberg
Dear Ms. Steinberg and Mr. Garodnick:
was with extreme disappointment that I read the other day that
Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village were being sold yet again to
another corporate developer/landlord. There were echoes of Fall 2006 in
recent weeks, as we watched flocks of “suits” walking around the complex
sizing the place up.
this and making this beyond even any comprehension is that you both had
the unmitigated nerve to get up with Mayor De Blasio and other
officials in a hastily convened “press conference” to declare “victory”
for tenants with this sale because you somehow got commitment from the
corporate bloodsuckers at Blackstone not to destroy the complex any more
than it already has been… for another twenty years. My mouth was
literally hanging open watching you smiling and saying how great this is
for tenants and our community. While you were smiling, I was getting
sick to my stomach watching and listening to you. Mr. Garodnick, you
said this deal has the support of the tenants. Perhaps my memory is
failing me, but I don’t remember being asked for my opinion about any
such deal and neither do any of my neighbors and friends who live here.
be perfectly clear: This is not by any means great for tenants or our
community. It does not accomplish what you both were entrusted to and
said you were going to accomplish. Stable? Affordable? This speech was
an unbelievable whitewash job. We didn’t “preserve 5,000 apartments”
from vacancy decontrol. We have LOST more than 6,000 in a complex of
more than 11,000. To me, and others that I have spoken with, this is
nothing short of unmitigated disaster. What you’re calling “victory” and
“success” is like telling the parents of a child on life support that
you’re going to be able to keep them alive for another twenty years,
still on life support, with no quality of life and no guarantee of
what’s going to happen in the future. Awesome, go ahead and pat
yourselves on the back a little bit more.
only way you could even possibly declare success or victory in this
case is if the complex is bought and owned by the tenants, period.
Anything short of that is a bitter pill that we are forced to swallow. I
went to meeting after meeting where the TA claimed to have financiers
and lawyers “lining up” to both finance this deal and handle the legal
aspects of a sale to the tenants. “White shoe” law firms and financiers.
Yes, those were the exact words used. What happened to them? Did they
just evaporate? Didn’t we tenants have some right to know that the
effort to convert to coops or condos was suspended? Are you really
saying we couldn't come up with a competing bid? Are you saying the
buying power of 30,000 people is not enough to make this happen? Yes,
the complex is overvalued with this purchase, for now. In 20 years, it
no longer will be, and tenants would have some serious equity.
2006, you had crews of people running around getting residents to sign
petitions saying they would be in favor of a purchase of the complex by
tenants so we could have all our ducks in a row. Chuck Schumer and
others were “putting pressure” on CW Capital, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
to “do the right thing” and let a community of 30,000 people determine
their own destiny and have a say over the shape of their own apartments.
There were a myriad of protests and rallies and meetings. Over and
over, for the last nine years there has been one version or another of
this, and to what end? So another corporate real estate monolith can
come in here and preserve the status quo and you are somehow declaring
success? How does this address the current issues we have here? How is
this a “win” for anyone but these corporate bloodsuckers?
apartment next to mine has had at least six tenants in the last four
years. NYU students still come and go in droves every semester, treat
apartments and common areas like trash bins and clutter up sidewalks
with refuse. I used to know my neighbors, but not anymore. Half of them
are gone with apartments churning multiple times per year. How is this
deal going to fix that problem?
Capital (i.e., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) has continued their process
of “tarting up” vacated apartments up and whoring them out to the
highest bidders, all at the expense of the quality of life of the
residents while renovations are conducted. These are residents who have
been here, many for decades, who only get to watch as their community
deteriorates into a transient mess. How does this deal fix that problem?
The answer is, it does not. Oh, but we have Oval Study, nice
landscaping and a farmers market. Hurray!
the only version of a sale that could be called “success” or a “victory
for tenants” is one that means that we can have the option to buy our
own apartments and that we own our own complex, not these corporate
idiots coming in here padding their own wallets and those of their
investors.You all have failed us. You failed in what you were entrusted
to do and what you said you were going to do. No one wants these people
coming in here. No one but you, and unfortunately, you were unwilling or
unable to do what was necessary to prevent it and provide the tenants
of this complex with a satisfactory outcome. And you know what? Perhaps
you couldn’t get the financing to happen for whatever reason (which I
find hard to believe). But don’t get up there with huge smiles on your
faces and tell us this is a “win” for us. It’s not. It's nothing but a
band-aid on a gaping wound. This is an abject, unmitigated travesty.
>>“The tenants are going to insist that the owners work directly with them
and with the city to develop a responsible plan to protect the
long-term affordability of the place,” City Councilman Dan Garodnick, a
lifelong resident of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, said in an
interview this week. “The ownership has changed more times in the last
handful of years than it had since its creation and tenants want to see
this issue resolved for good.”<<
The deal became official Tuesday, October 20th, with word about it coming a day and even two days earlier.
Below are several statements made by our buyers Blackstone & Ivanhoé Cambridge. My response follows each statement.
"We are pleased to have the support of Mayor de Blasio, Councilman
Garodnick, Senator Schumer, the Tenants Association, and those who call
this neighborhood home."
Not so quick, please. "Those who call this neighborhood home" must digest the deal made, questions must be answered, concerns addressed, etc, before you can make such an expansive, positive statement. Frankly, you seem to be trying to fool the non-ST/PCV public and press with such a hasty statement.
"We intend to own STPCV for many years to come, and view this investment as a lasting partnership with the STPCV community."
We who call this place home will see what kind of partnership it will become.
"The same dedicated employees that you know well will continue to deliver
high-quality service for all your living needs and we will apply our
decades of asset management experience to preserving and maintaining the
complex at high standards."
Unfortunately, not all of the "same dedicated employees" that we know deliver quality service. BTW, have you taken a walk through our community and seen the disrepair of the walkways, the filth left behind by our lovely four-legged pets? Have you gone inside our buildings and seen the garbage pile-ups in the recycling areas? The non-working washers and dyers of some laundry rooms? Have you perhaps stayed the night at one of our apartments and been awoken by loud frat parties, or the noise of returning party-goers at 2 or 3AM, or the early morning wake-up calls from construction or room renovation?
"We believe this is a very exciting development for residents, employees
and the community as it delivers a long-term solution for STPCV and
ensures stability and responsible management."
Hopefully, but we shall have to see.
"We are pleased to have the support of Mayor de Blasio, Council Member Garodnick and Tenant Leaders on this transaction."
Sorry, but this doesn't carry that much weight with many of the tenants here.
"We have voluntarily signed a regulatory agreement with the City of New
York implementing supplemental affordable housing provisions at
Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village to safeguard the affordability of
5,000 below-market units for a 20 year period."
Thank you, but what happens after this 20-year period?
"We believe this is a very exciting development for residents and
employees as it delivers a long-term solution for STPCV and ensures
stability for the community. We recognize the importance of maintaining
the character and heritage of the community and are committed to
preserving the affordability and culture of STPCV."
We'll see about that, too.
"The amenities offered by STPCV are a key part of its culture and reason that people seek to make STPCV home."
You are wrong. The "amenities" are not, and never were, a part of our culture here. They are relatively new fabrications that are used by a small number of residents, though now they are part of our landscape. The fact that you don't know this is indicative of your lack of knowledge about our community. But I suspect you do know this and will be using amenities as a way of just attracting potential renters, as that's the current "meme" in the real estate business. Also, be aware, as you should be, that amenities were never the reason people sought to live in this community pre-Tishman Speyer. Affordability, the community's family-oriented ethos (not student ethos), and fine grounds and building maintenance were the crucial factors in people going on a waiting list for years so that they could live here. "Amenities" is bullshit stuff for a new age and real estate "best practices." And even if you ask tenants who came here in the past several years, you will probably never get "amenities" as the main reason they chose to rent here. For non-students, it's still primarily about raising a family in a safe community with playgrounds and nice landscaping.
"We will also add additional amenities and services including making an
onsite social worker available, creating a senior community service,
offering wellness checks, health screenings and senior activities."
Amenities for seniors are always welcome, but please no more "amenities" that ruin the Oval and the green oasis of what this place used to be. Please do not make this a circus.
* * *
As a comparison, here is Robbie Speyer's letter to our community back in the day when Tishman-Speyer took over:
PLEASE NOTE: Due to this breaking news and its importance to our community, I expect a substantial amount of comments coming to this blog. I'm will try to monitor the comment section expeditiously, but I am at work for most of the day, so bear that in mind if your comment does not appear as swiftly as you may like.
Major news. According to Charles V. Bagli, NYTimes' real estate writer (and author of an eye-opening book on ST/PCV), the sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to Blackstone will happen this Tuesday. Of particular note:
"The agreement will preserve nearly half the 11,232-unit complex for middle-class families."
"The Blackstone deal includes a remarkable regulatory agreement with the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio that would ensure that a block of 5,000 apartments would be affordable for the next 20 years for families of teachers, construction workers, firefighters and others who traditionally made their homes at Stuyvesant Town."
While this is potentially good news, I do feel we shouldn't be celebrating yet. One wonders, for instance, just how this agreement will deal with the pattern of apartments going out of "affordable housing" when old time residents move or die out, and how the agreement will deal with the dramatic progressive upswing of student housing in this community. I also am somewhat suspicious of the term frequently used: "middle class housing," which can be defined in a number of ways. Will a rent of $4,000 or more for a single bedroom apartment be considered "middle class housing"? And what happens after 20 years? In some ways, this could be an illusory victory for the true middle class and real affordable housing. Blackstone would have made a serious evaluation of the future of this complex and realized that the progressive turn-over of apartments to unaffordable, coupled with the 20 year time limit (that may erase rent-stabilization protections), is a great boon for it. Yes, we could be getting screwed again.
Hopefully, Blackstone will take their ownership of this property very seriously in terms of maintenance and enforcement of rules. In other words, hopefully we will be seeing the last of CWCapital and CompassRock.
Of note: "Under the new agreement with the de Blasio administration, 4,500
apartments would be reserved for middle-income families. A family of
three earning up to $128,210 a year, for example, would pay a rent of
$3,205 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. An additional 500 apartments
would be set aside for families making less. For example, a family of
three earning up to $62,150 a year would pay about $1,553 in rent for a
So, wait.... Does that mean if one's rent is higher than the amounts mentioned, one's rent is lowered??? Surely not.
And the question still remains: What happens after 20 years to these affordable apartments?
An aside: A shout out to Times' Charles V. Bagli for these reports.
"Several parties have made a play for Stuyvesant Town in the past five years, including Brookfield Asset Management Inc., which worked with tenants on a proposal
that included converting apartments into condominiums. Brookfield is no
longer pursuing a bid, according to Andrew Willis, a spokesman for the
Meanwhile, our man Dan makes his usual statement on these matters when they arise:
“The tenants are going to insist that the owners work directly with them
and with the city to develop a responsible plan to protect the
long-term affordability of the place.”
And sorry, but Dan's statement has zero bite. Anyone who buys this place knows that and certainly knows how much of a hit affordable housing has already permanently taken and how, almost by choice, pathetically powerless is our TA...and Dan.
"STUYVESANT TOWN — Police arrested a man for allegedly going on a
package-stealing spree in Peter Copper Village, strolling from floor to
floor and rooting through piles of delivery packages, according to a
More at the above link.
The moral of the story is that tenants have to be on the alert for such robberies and report anything suspicious immediately to Public Safety (212) 598-5233.
Also, from Resident Help at the PCVSTLiving.com site:
"Public Safety can also be reached by using any of the 36 blue light
phones located around the property or the intercom in each of the
building lobbies. These phones call directly to Public Safety
Headquarters and are fully outfitted with cameras so officers can
maintain visual contact with the caller."
The next largest contributor to expected losses is the
specially-serviced Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town (PCV/ST) asset
(11.2% of the pool), a 56-building multi-family complex with 11,227
units located on the east side of Manhattan in New York City. The loan
transferred to special servicing in November 2009. Subsequently, in
October 2012 PCV/ST suffered damage from Hurricane Sandy; property
restoration efforts have been completed. The special servicer continues
to pursue the remaining claim amounts from the insurance providers and
anticipates a resolution in the near term.
On June 3, 2014, the trust received title to the property via
deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. On July 3, 2014, certain mezzanine lenders
who had purchased their positions filed a complaint alleging that the
deed-in-lieu breached the terms of the intercreditor agreement, among
other claims. These mezzanine lenders are pursuing damages from the
special servicer as senior lender. The special servicer filed an initial
motion to dismiss on Aug. 18, 2014 and a motion to dismiss a second
amended complaint on March 9, 2015. Status is pending regarding the
motion to dismiss, but a final ruling is expected in the near term. Any
potential sale of the property cannot occur until this litigation is
resolved; therefore, timing of a sale remains uncertain.
In November 2012, the special servicer (CWCapital) announced a
settlement to The Roberts Litigation to address historical overcharges
and future rents for over 4,300 units. Final approval for the settlement
was reached and implementation is now complete.
An updated 2015 appraisal and an updated operating statement are still
pending, therefore, Fitch continues to model conservative losses.
Property performance is stable with 97% occupancy as of August 2015.
Thank you for taking up the important battle against microbeads.
Please don't forget us here in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. We are dying in a manner of speaking. And certainly Affordable Housing is on life support.
P.S. - I think the current photo of you in the News, showcasing your serious and concerned look, is much more impressive than others of the same type I have seen, as impacting as those photos were. Definitely use this photo for promoting yourself to the voters for a higher office than the one you have already.
Seen the other day along the walkway corridor between the 500 East 20 St buildings, a frequent dumping and pissing area for dog walkers:
Now for a closer look at what was left behind: (Apologies for the graphic nature of the photos.)
Dog piss and shit stains and actual turds all over the complex! Thank you, CWCapital and CompassRock, for maintaining this place so impeccably. And thank YOU, Rob Speyer, who changed the no-dog policy here during his (failed) reign! Wish I could package these turds and send them over your way.
Now, what happens if the volleyball courts are already taken by non-NYU grad students? Will they be asked to leave? Will admittance be only for NYU grad students? Will ST/PCV key-cards be checked?
UPDATE: Sunday, post-5:30pm. Well, it didn't turn out as anyone expected. LOL. Four very nice Asian students, two guys, two gals. That's it. No bros. No shouting. No beer hidden away somewhere. They could have used some more players! All is safe and secure.
That's said, there was NO ONE checking who entered Playground 11. One gets the feeling that CW is trying to save money everywhere.
Perhaps my "Stuy Town is a Disaster" post from last week has produced some movement on the part of management. The chess board area between Oval Cafe and Oval Study that I complained about is now under demolition as I write this.
Now, here's the question: What is going to take its place?
Please choose one:
1) New chess tables and chess area.
2) Nothing. Management, pissed, is telling STR and residents: "Take that, bitches!"
3) Vending machines.
4) Student housing.
I really think that no one cares. Perhaps some residents do, but that's about it.
Here's the morning Stuy Town sweeper zamboni cleaning up the Oval. Problem is that it does a lousy job (photo shows how lousy: all the leaves still remain after the zamboni's passage) and spreads noxious and harmful fumes in the air.
The photo may not truly tell the tale but this dog is huge enough for a child to use as a horse, fifty pound weight limit be damned. Public Safety has really dropped the ball in enforcing the complex's dog rules. We all know that, of course, but the question is whether the lack of enforcement is due to Public Safety or orders from above.
The chess table area between Oval Cafe and Oval Study is disgusting. Dog urine (pictured in photo), smudges of dog feces, cigarette butts, spilled drinks, food stains, flies, fleas, mosquitoes--it's all there to enjoy! The chess area and chess tables are never properly cleaned, with only Mother Nature's rain providing any type of effort. Management should post signs that no dogs are allowed inside that area, not only to stop the urine and crap stains, but also to prevent dog owners for placing their fidos on the tables!
A homeless man finds a nice place to sleep in Stuy Town. I don't begrudge him the sleeping quarters, but the question becomes how is it that our award-winning camera system and the eagle eyes of Public Safety did not see this?
I dunno. If it were my job to make sure Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village is maintained as best as possible (meaning, professionally), I would be supremely embarrassed with results like these, which are NOT atypical. And if I were a renter paying 5K or so for my apartment, I'd be furious. Even so, at 2K or thereabouts, we should demand that something be done to make ST/PCV more of a nice clean place to live instead of a slum. And where's the TA in all this? Its officers live and walk around the complex, no?
"YIMBY can now reveal the latest plans for the site, which have changed
significantly, and the entirety of the building above the retail base
will be condominiums. The project has also received a significant height
boost, and is now slated to stand 64 stories and 803 feet tall, with
Pelli Clarke Pelli serving as the design architect."
The VA is constructing a flood wall next to the new Asser Levy "park" that was finished about 8 months ago and infringing on that space. The flood wall is being obviously constructed to protect the VA hospital, which suffered a lot of damage during Hurricane Sandy. Many veterans use the hospital, particularly the ones with financial hardships. In the aftermath of Sandy they could not use the hospital's services for months and months. These are people who served their country and who currently find themselves without much money and in need of help for physical and/or mental issues. So they are frequently poor and frequently minority.
Our "progressive" councilman, Dan Garodnick, who loves his mini-parks by the way, is upset at the VA, and is quoted as saying:
“If the VA had built the flood wall during the time Parks was
constructing the playground, we would have avoided this. The VA now has an obligation to put the park back in the
precise condition they found it in, and we are counting on that.”
Nice hard-line words, Dan. Go get 'em.
The reality is that the VA will do what it can to replace what's been lost. But the reality is also that few people have been using what was lost, and most of the "park," which doubles as an exercise area, is still available for use.
Also, this is complete bullshit:
"Steinberg [the person in the article complaining about the intrusion of the flood wall] enjoyed the convenience of using the fitness equipment at
Asser Levy, which is just three blocks from his house, but now must head
more than a mile away to East River Park if he wants to work out on
city recreation equipment, he said."
Well, Steinberg should be alerted that the Asser Levy gym is still operational; the construction of the VA hospital flood wall has no impact on the gym, just on the meager "equipment" that was part of the park. So he doesn't have to burden himself by seeking another workout area "more than a mile away." And he surely must know this, but perhaps doesn't want to use the facilities at the gym. (I'm not going to press further on why that may be because I don't want to embarrass Mr. Steinberg; let's just say the "clientele" at the Asser Levy gym may not be to his liking.)
So guys, back off from bitching about the VA and its necessary construction of a flood wall to protect a hospital that generally low-income vets use.
And Dan, tell me, has a flood wall been built yet to protect Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town? Or, despite your bitching about the VA's timeline, is the VA ahead of the game, while PCV/ST is not?
If I could laugh at this issue, I would. This is one of the pieces of serious "fitness equipment" at Dan's park: