As he promised in an article in Town & Village published two weeks ago, developer Gerald Guterman of Guterman Westwood Partners has launched a website aimed at explaining his plan to convert Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village into co-ops.
The website (www.stpcvfacts.org) is going to be interactive, with residents encouraged to send in questions that can be answered by GWP, and if the tenants give their permission, posted online with the answers.
In a press release sent out on Thursday morning, the company said the site offers “straightforward answers to the tough questions that community residents have been raising and talking about for years. It provides background information on Guterman Westwood Partners and provides a forum for resident and public inquiry regarding the conversion process, and the firm’s intended participation therein. Guterman Westwood Partners believes that no conversion of the community can or should occur without the support of the vast majority of its current residents.”
Guterman, who was one of over 50 parties that had approached the ST-PCV Tenants Association to propose some sort of tenant-led conversion plan, was eventually passed over by the TA in favor of a partnership with Brookfield Asset Management.
Brookfield, the owner of Zuccotti Park and a national residential property developer, along with the TA, has proposed a plan to convert the complex into condos while also giving residents the option to continue to rent.
Guterman has also said tenants would be allowed to continue to rent, but has said he thought that under his plan, a co-op conversion would be cheaper and take less time to accomplish.
The TA has explained its decision to go with Brookfield by noting its experience in complicated deals as well as the fact that the firm wants to remain on as owner of the unsold units for the long term.
However, Guterman has said he believes his firm is the best one for the job considering his experience in conversions of rent-controlled and rent-stabilized buildings (around 11,000 units).
The company also explained, on the new website, why it wouldn’t want to remain on as a longterm landlord.
“Guterman Westwood has seen firsthand over the years that when residents become purchasers and owners of any community, they seldom want a longterm ‘corporate partner’ or sponsor to retain an interest in the community for longer than is absolutely necessary,” it said in a Q&A section.
Residents should expect to receive a postcard in the mail any day now to let them know about the website, if they haven’t received it already, Guterman told T&V.
In the statement released on Thursday, he said, “When the details of our plan are objectively compared with plans suggested by others, residents will recognize that our firm aims to produce the best value possible for the community in an orderly and efficient conversion process.” “Of course, no one other than the mortgagees control the property at this stage. But when the mortgagees’ disposition process proceeds later this year, we will be deeply involved as a strong voice for the residents of the Stuyvesant Town & Peter Cooper Village community, with the backing and commitment to see an acquisition and conversion through for the mutual benefit of our firm and the residents,” Guterman added.
The ST-PCV TA also has a website focusing on its conversion plan at http://www.protectstpcv.org. The association also now writes a weekly column for this newspaper, Focus on Conversion, aimed at answering tenants’ questions.
In response the new website, Al Doyle, president of the Tenants Association, had this to say:
“The last thing Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village need is another scheme from an aggressive developer who sees our community as another money-making opportunity. Unlike the Tenants’ Association partnership with Brookfield, Guterman’s plan will do nothing to ensure the long-term affordability and stability that we desperately need. Tenants who want to learn more about our effort to empower our community and buy Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for ourselves should visit www.protectstpcv.org, read our weekly “Focus on Conversion” Q&A column in Town & Village, call our dedicated conversion question line at (646) 403-9747, and look for our upcoming regular series of video Q&A sessions.”
Sabina Mollot (firstname.lastname@example.org)