Editorial: Rent hikes aren’t just bad news for tenants

In a recent Town & Village editorial, the topic was how the mid-lease rent hikes given to 1,300 residents was bad business. The reason was that it would cause hundreds of vacancies and end up replacing more stable residents like families with less stable ones like students and others living in roommate situations.

However, there is another reason why we think the mid-lease increases (which have been as high as over $2,000) are bad business and bad for the community.

The other reason is that an exodus of tenants means a sharp drop in business for local retailers, many of whom have already been hurting since Sandy and the temporary closure of the VA Medical Center. Obviously, eventually new tenants will replace the departing ones as customers of local shops, but with a large chunk of apartments being vacated, this is a process that’s going to take some time. Meanwhile, since apartment buildings around here for years now have had revolving doors due to steadily increasing rents, the challenge of regularly trying to attract – and to keep – clients is one that local businesses have already, on a gradual level, been struggling with.

But don’t take our word for it. Hear what a couple of merchants had to say.

Jen Cohen-Vigder, one of two owners at Beehives & Buzzcuts, a children’s hair salon that also offers art and music classes for kids, said the rent increases are all her clients can talk about.

“We have that conversation every day, three times a day, how awful it is,” said Vigder-Cohen.

Though she hadn’t yet considered what the effect could be on her not even two-year-old business, she conceded that if local families were replaced by students, “It’s not a good thing for our business.

“The strength of this neighborhood is in the diversity of the ages and generations and it’s important to our business,” Vigder-Cohen added. “We sell a lot of toys to grandparents and great-grandparents and we value them and the families who seem to be impacted.”

Dave Sidoti, owner of the Town and Village hardware store, also predicted a negative impact on the local economy.

“This is not going to be a good thing obviously,” said Sidoti. “It’s not going to be a community if Stuy Town turns into one-year lease hotel rooms. Consequently, when people pay these exorbitant rents, they’re not going to be spending or contributing to the economy. Students don’t spend at your local businesses except restaurants and bars. They don’t spend money to fix up their apartments and even your newspaper, they aren’t going to subscribe, because they’re just going to stay a year and leave. They aren’t going to care. It’s a shame.”

Sidoti added that as a result of the recent round of rent hikes, he’s already said his good-byes to a customer. The resident, he said, couldn’t afford the increase and will be moving to Queens.

“It’s not that I don’t want young people in the neighborhood; don’t get me wrong,” said Sidoti. “But they’re not necessarily starting a life in New York City. They’ll stay for a year or two and then they have to move to the outer boroughs. And as your outer boroughs get filled up, where are your working people going to go? Are they going to travel two hours for a ten-dollar-an-hour job? In the future, it’s going to be a major problem. The landlords are here to make a buck, and they can get that money from restaurants and big corporations. You’re not going to have mom and pop stores offering small services.”

6 thoughts on “Editorial: Rent hikes aren’t just bad news for tenants

  1. Pingback: T&V EDITORIAL: Rent hikes aren’t just bad news for tenants | Escape Stuy Town

  2. CHANGE NAME FROM PCV/ST TO HOTEL CW/CAPITAL

    A journalist from the WSJ who grew up in PCV/ST referred to it as having been a utopia. Well, much has changed since MetLife evolved from mutual life insurance company to a for profit corporation; they then decided to turn the properties into luxury apartments under the stewardship of CEO Robert Benmosche (who now is with AIG — which kind of figures). T&V via the newspaper, blogs and letters has been critical of the latest moves.

    We all know that Met sold PCV/ST to Tishman-Speyer for $$.4B just prior to the real estate collapse; this was followed by a default by Tishman-Speyer. Now, CW/Capital manages the company. The latest insult involves increasing rents mid-lease for hundreds of dollars.

    I note that in my building the elevators all too frequently have the padding used for moving in or out. I note that each rental invoice invites people to recommend others to become tenants; I note that for it first more than 50 years this was a family community. Now college students (sometimes, four) are pooling their resources so they can pay about $1,200 each a month each as temporary rooms are created by constructing temporary walls.

    During the first few decades, MetLife engendered almost complete faith in its tenants. Now, a woman writes that she was wary of two people from management arriving to check her closets. People I talk to here have mirrored her lack of trust.

    These two developments are quickly becoming suites for transients as the character of what was PCV/ST. This is just another example of greed driven capitalism.

    So, let PCV/ST become just a memory. Call these two developments originally built for the middle class:

    HOTEL CW/CAPITAL

    [Full disclosure: I do not trust the company being highlighted. So, should they be displeased with this post and try to evict me this document will be presented as appropriate. Enough is enough!]

  3. This editorial is right on the money. We heard complaints about the constant turnover and loss of families from a number of unhappy businesses who allowed us to put protest signs in their windows. There is a palpable community-wide anger towards our latest de facto landlord that may be even more intense than in the TS years.

  4. Pingback: Editorial: Rent hikes aren’t just bad news for tenants | Sports Tech Post

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