Letters to the Editor, Oct. 25

Conversion would bring back stability

To the Editor:

After the ST/PCV Tenants Association’s recent mailing to residents explaining that it will be taking its plan for a rental or purchase conversion plan directly to bondholders, two long-time neighbors asked me why a conversion was needed at all – why Stuy Town and Peter Cooper can’t just go happily on as an all-rental community. The answer is pretty simple: Because MetLife sold us to Tishman Speyer for $5.4 billion dollars (most of it borrowed.)

As Tishman Speyer learned in its brief, turbulent few years as owner – there is no way that the income from rent-stabilized apartments can support maintenance along with payments on that huge debt. So while it’s possible that we could remain an all-rental community, there is no way that we can remain an affordable all-rental community.

Unless we tenants can gain control of our lives – which is the goal of the Tenants Association-Brookfield plan for a condo conversion with the option to remain a stabilized renter – the future looks grim for those of us who love this place.

If CW Capital chooses to sell to another Tishman-like real estate operator, the new owner must make a concerted drive to increase revenues by replacing rent-stabilized residents with those who can pay market rates. Long-time residents would face renewed harassment to drive them from their homes and, if they managed to stay, would be surrounded by crowds of eight or nine young people jammed into the two-bedroom market-rate apartments it takes eight or nine of them to pay for.

The other destructive possibility is that a new owner would view our wonderful parks and playgrounds as potential profit centers with who-knows-what-kind-of commercial development consuming some of these 80 prime New York acres.

I’ve lived here for 51 years and, like many others, would love to recapture those happy days when we were a family-oriented community of rent-stabilized tenants, when there was one porter per building and the parking garages charged $35 a month.

But Met Life built this community as a kind of public service to returning World War II veterans. Met’s little Eden was a unique, historic and not-to-be-repeated event that we lucked into. No profit; they just needed to break even.

We can’t go back to the good old days, so let’s move forward to a return to stability. Someone who understands these things explained to me that the TA-Brookfield conversion plan would produce that stability by lessening dependence on rental income to cover operating costs and debt payments.

In addition to the upfront capital Brookfield can provide, the many current residents and outsiders who would value ownership of their homes would also help produce the capital needed to maintain the property and to lower the size of a new mortgage, making a structurally sound and affordable combined ownership-rental community possible into the future.

Soni Fink, PCV

Note: The author of this letter is a board member of the Tenants Association, though she is not writing on behalf of the TA. Continue reading

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