Residents mixed on MCI settlement

Those interviewed also question
necessity of improvements made

By Sabina Mollot
Following the announcement last Thursday that the ST-PCV Tenants Association had reached an agreement with CWCapital to reduce the cost of MCIs for some tenants and eliminate them completely for others, tenants have been able to talk about little else. When questioned about their thoughts by Town & Village, a few residents who got the 5 percent reduction of the monthly portion of the MCIs naturally said they wished they’d gotten more shaved off their rent bills. However, mainly what they expressed was their disgust at the system that allows owners to pass the costs of building upgrades onto renters.
“It seems very unfair,” said Katie Bernard, who’s lived in Stuy Town for 10 years. She was especially annoyed that MCIs were charged for the video intercom system, which she said was unnecessary. “I can’t tell you how little it works. I miss the old system. I don’t need a screen.”
Another resident also said she didn’t understand the need for the security upgrades that qualified for MCIs.
“It didn’t make my life any safer,” said Carol Szamtowicz. “These capital improvements, I’m sorry I have to pay for them.” As for the settlement, she thought it was good that the Tenants Association fought the increases, “but,” she added, “five percent isn’t very much.”
Meanwhile, another resident, Bob Novick, said he was glad to hear the retroactive portion of the increases had been eliminated. “They did get the retroactive off and that is significant,” said Novick. However, he too said he didn’t get why the intercom system needed replacing on the tenants’ dime. “We got new intercoms 8-10 years ago,” he recalled, adding that he thought the new ones were “essentially the same. The new ones are more sophisticated, but I’m wondering what the purpose was other than to increase the rents.”
And Bill Oddo, a longtime resident, said he wasn’t impressed with the settlement at all. “I don’t see where the success is when

Tenants Association President John Marsh, pictured last fall (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Tenants Association President John Marsh, pictured last fall (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

we’re only getting 5 percent off on all those items,” he said. “I have to pay $15 a month for video cameras and they don’t do anything. The security cameras don’t make us safe. They only help after the fact. You can’t possibly monitor 1,200 cameras 24/7.” Besides, he added, “For 65 years, this has been one of the safest communities in the city. It’s safer than St. Patrick’s Cathedral.” Oddo added that together he’ll be paying over $50 a month in MCIs, for improvements he thought his existing base rent should cover. “I can’t figure out why tenants have to pay for them,” he said. “I know (the Tenants Association) tried hard, but they’re losing this battle. People are leaving. Older people are dying and they’re just turning these apartments over. I love young people, but it’s a dormitory.”
In contrast, a “Roberts” tenant interviewed said of course he was glad he wouldn’t have to pay the increases following the settlement. “Less is more,” quipped Henry, who asked that his last name not be published. “Obviously if you’re paying less for your apartment, you’re better off.” But Henry added he wouldn’t be celebrating just yet since he’s been dealing with a lack of heat in his apartment. “I’m in the living room with two comforters and sweatpants,” he said.
On the TA’s Facebook page this week, the TA received heaping praise as well as a few complaints about the settlement.
In response, TA President John Marsh said that, though not part of the recent round of negotiations, tenants’ increases had already been reduced by 23 percent as a result of TA action. This was after the TA presented the DHCR with “detailed explanations of deficiencies” on a building-by-building basis for each MCI application, Marsh explained to T&V. This was when the work was done in 2009. After the agency reviewed the TA’s concerns as well as Tishman’s responses to them, “the total of all DHCR Orders were 23 percent less than the total of MCI rent increase applications filed by Tishman Speyer.”

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5 thoughts on “Residents mixed on MCI settlement

  1. The gentleman quoted in the article is right, ST & PCV are turning into a dormitory but from what I understand talks to go coop or condo are still on the table. If that happens, and many of us hope it will, we may get our community back. There should be no shortage of buyers & I doubt that it will be students who are in NY for a couple of semesters. As for the MCI reduction. MCIs aren’t an easy thing to fight and win, even marginally. So, I do feel that the Tenants Association and our lawyers deserve a big thank you for their hard work and the reduction they won.

  2. A MODEST PROPOSAL**

    So CW/Capital can increase their revenues and of course the most important responsibility of any landlord is to keep each of their properties clean. That is major! So since MCI means “major capital improvement” deals with really important things — what could be more important than keeping each of ST/PCV buiding extremely clean?

    So, why not add an MCI each times the buidings are cleaned? Makes sense to me and would add cents to the coffers of CW/Capital.

    **Note: This term alludes to a famous essay by Jonothan Swift.

  3. We need a real Tenants Association, not one that is in bed with the landlord and local politicians. I vote for Bill Oddo!

  4. These MCIs are a rip-off and everybody knows it. My intercom has never worked properly and the $5, later raised to $6.50 for the old intercom was at least for something that worked. What’s with the messaging feature on the intercom? It has never worked, even when we have had emergencies such as Sandy. We are being charged an outrageous MCI for a piece of equipment that is less functional than an old can-opener with a blunt blade! Everything that TS installed is total schlock.

    As for the “Security” MCI, I never see Security (or Public Safety) patrolling; they enforce no QOL rules such as people who let their dogs defecate on the paths and then don’t pick up; people from outside walking packs of huge dogs; bicycle and motorized scooter riders who zoom around the property with no regard for anybody who happens to be in their path; noisy parties and drug use are ignored, no matter how much disturbance is being created; and I could go on and on. Those cameras are, for the most part, not monitored and the only use they may possibly have (if they actually are working) is to view a criminal after the fact. Cold comfort to the tenant who is bloodied and bruised by the actual attack.

    Who the hell knows what the paving and water MCIs are for. The water is still brown and the paving is still ruptured and rotting.

    This current LL has to be the worst this complex has ever had. They are useless, incompetent and dishonest. Tenants are treated like the stuff that the dogs deposit on the walking paths.
    They should be made to open their books and be transparent about what they are raking in at the expense of our quality of life. This would be a given if we had any elected “representatives” with a smidge of decency and honesty and were not on the take from the RE cabal.

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