ST-PCV Tenants Association still in, despite reported Fortress bid

ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh speaking at a Tenants Association meeting on Saturday, with Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

ST-PCV Tenants Association President John Marsh speaking at a Tenants Association meeting on Saturday, with Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

On Thursday morning, the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association announced that it was still interested in buying, and hoped that now that foreclosure proceedings have begun, CWCapital would be ready to talk business.
In an email sent out to neighbors (also available online) Tenants Association President John Marsh said, “We want to make certain that the young families just now trying to put down roots here, can carry on that tradition and that no tenant will ever again be at the mercy of a predatory landlord. The TA-Brookfield plan would deliver full recovery to the primary bondholders. Now that CW can no longer claim the place is not for sale, we hope they will take our offer seriously.”
CWCapital has so far kept its tradition of not saying anything about selling the place, other than a brief statement on Tuesday to announce the foreclosure on the property’s mezzanine debt and a sale scheduled for June 13.
Marsh also said in the email, “CWCapital will become the owner of the property on June 13, at least temporarily. Subsequently, they could hold an auction similar to what we saw in 2006, when Tishman Speyer bought the property.”
A report by Businessweek has said CW parent company Fortress was preparing a bid of $4.7 billion.
While he was running for mayor, Bill de Blasio promised he would keep ST/PCV affordable. Council Member Dan Garodnick has said he learned that a tenant-led bid would have the support of the city’s housing commissioner, Vicki Been, and the deputy mayor for economic development, Alicia Glen. In an official statement, Glen said, “Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village are critical bulwarks of affordability for middle class families. Our housing plan emphasizes preservation, and with so many affordable units at risk in these developments, the stakes are too high to be hands-off. We are in active discussions with the lenders, Councilman Dan Garodnick and tenants in the hopes of reaching a joint approach.”

 

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Editorial: Tenants still kept in the dark about the future

Tenants protest outside the leasing office this time lasy year. Their signs, along with the Tenants Association logo, read: ST-PCV A communiy. Not a commodity. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Tenants protest outside the leasing office this time last year. Their signs, along with the Tenants Association logo, read: ST-PCV A community. Not a commodity.
(Photo by Sabina Mollot)

On Tuesday, CWCapital dropped the bombshell that it would be foreclosing on Stuyvesant Town’s mezzanine debt and that there would be a sale in one month. A possible bidder who’s since emerged is CW’s own parent company, Fortress, at a rumored offer of $4.7 billion.
Since neither Fortress or CW have been willing to comment on this, it’s still not official or a done deal by any means.
However, when one considers the Stuy Town special servicer’s history of communicating on this issue, rumors wind up being the most reliable thing this community’s got to go on.
As of T&V’s Wednesday press time, even a developer who’s been eager to bid on the property, Gerald Guterman, now has doubts due to the high price. Because even if tenants are eventually given the opportunity to buy, how many current residents would actually be able to afford to?
As of Tuesday, the Tenants Association maintained that it is interested, with partner Brookfield, of owning, and no longer seeing the community get passed around like meat.
But again, there’s the issue of the pricetag. Speculation of what ST/PCV could be worth is what led to the most infamous real estate flop ever, with Tishman Speyer losing its investors’ billions. Is the place really worth $4.7 billion, even in a recovering market? And if a bidder thinks so, how many more (in many cases perfectly legal) efforts will be made to price out tenants in unrenovated apartments paying lower rents? Or even gouge those already paying higher rents? There’s always more “improvements” that could be made on the tenants’ dime permanently.
The new mayor made a campaign trail promise to protect ST/PCV and other places like it from the circling of real estate buzzards like the ones who wrongly thought a complex built for the middle class was the goose that laid golden eggs in 2006. Now it is time to see if he meant it.

Letters to the Editor, May 15

May15 Toon Google

MTA customers being taken for a ghost ride

When my job changed and I no longer needed to navigate the subways and buses as frequently, I stopped buying “Unlimited” Metrocards and started buying “Limited” Metrocards, paying per ride and filling the card when the balance dropped.
I’d check my balance, on occasion, as I whizzed through a subway turnstile or when I dipped my card in a bus card reader but admittedly, I have reached a certain age where I need to write this down – and don’t.
Recently, I noticed my Metrocard being pulled up and down several times in the bus card reader. This had happened at other times, but the difference was I had just filled my card and knew what my balance should be. I transferred to the subway and as I swiped my card I noticed that the balance was significantly lower than it should be.
The light bulb went on – what I had thought was a harmless glitch in the card reader, one that didn’t affect the monetary value of my card, is probably a financial bonanza for the MTA because with each one of those dips, a deduction was taken for a ghost “ride.” It took me a while to notice I was losing money and that money is irretrievable but the MTA now has my undivided attention each time I board a bus.
Every time, and I mean every time, I use my Metrocard on an MTA bus, I watch to see how many times it will be pulled down.
Once is all it should be, once down then up so you can grab it. Just recently, I had to apply to the MTA for a refund for two additionally subtracted rides when my card was pulled down into the card reader a total of three times, two times too many.
The MTA is good about refunding your money in the form of Metrocard for the amount that was erroneously deducted. You apply on the Metrocard eFix website and follow the instructions. You must remember the time of the incident, the bus line, M14 or M15 for instance and the amount you think you are owed and you must have the Metrocard that was affected because you will need the serial number on the back.
I’d like to know why there is no signage saying something to the effect that “if your card dips more than once you may be due a refund.”
Sincerely,
Karen Butler, ST

 

Options for cheaper medication

Re: Chefs deliver gourmet meals to seniors, T&V, Apr. 3
Yet another article in these pages regarding seniors who have to choose between splitting pills and having enough to eat prompted me to “reach out to” the pharmacist at Kmart Astor Place.
I was told that everyone is encouraged to call them at (212) 253-9661. (Press 0 once the recording starts to get straight through.) They will gladly give you a free price quote. So have your medication’s specifics at ready reference before calling. Kmart pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. They also deliver. Kmart likely offers the best prices in the neighborhood, by far, for most prescription medications.
Just brought to my attention, though, is http://www.uspharmacudiscountcard.com or (877) 207-6785. They claim an average discount of 47 percent and to be accepted at over 50,000 pharmacies to include Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid in addition to many places I’ve never heard of. They are part of ScriptRelief, L.L.C. and are located in Washington, D.C.
Billy Sternberg, ST

 

T&V welcomes letters to the editor

All letters should include name, address and telephone number, although authors’ names may be withheld at their request. Letters should be sent to editor@townvillage.net or 20 W. 22nd St., 14th floor, New York, NY, 10010. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Preference will be given to those on local topics. Deadline is Monday at 5 p.m.

CWCapital foreclosing on Stuy Town debt

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
After years of remaining silent on its plans for putting Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village up for sale, CWCapital made a move on Tuesday to foreclose on the property’s mezzanine debt and then it was reported that Fortress, CW’s parent company, was preparing a $4.7 billion bid.
Neither Fortress or CWCapital would comment on that report, but in a brief written statement, the special servicer of the property, which also manages a chunk of the mezzanine or junior debt, said that a sale was scheduled to take place on June 13.
The company went on to say the action “will have no impact on our residents or on property operations.”
In response to the news, which was first reported in the New York Times, ST-PCV Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg said she was tired of seeing the community being treated “like a football.”
“Everything that went into building a unique residential complex for the middle class has been upended in the interest of the bottom line,” she said. “We are being punted towards a goal that isn’t ours.” She added that it was time to have tenants own the place. But that was before hearing about the potential Fortress bid.
The Tenants Association had partnered with Brookfield Asset Management in 2011 in the hopes of buying the complex and going condo. CWCapital had declined to negotiate though saying no business could be discussed until “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” was settled. But after the settlement, there was still no chatter about bidding or a conversion.
Council Member Dan Garodnick said anyone could bid in the foreclosure, but CWCapital itself could be the winning bidder, using its unique position as debt servicer.
“They could bid billions of dollars without writing a check,” he said, “Because they are owed money here.”
He added that the move to foreclose on the mezz debt wasn’t really a surprise, since technically the property’s already been in foreclosure for years.
“It just hasn’t been formalized because there hasn’t been any action to foreclose on the lenders,” said Garodnick. Ultimately, he said what matters is that tenants’ rights are preserved.
In an official statement, the Council member also said the great bidding war of ‘06, in which potential owners were wrongly led to believe the sky was the limit on what they could charge for rents, shouldn’t be repeated.
“We cannot allow an overheated auction with wild expectations that puts a target on the back of rent-stabilized tenants.” he said. “We have seen that movie before. Tenants, and the City of New York, cannot afford to let that happen again.”
That view was shared by Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who said any developer with eyes on this particular prize needs to know that “This is a community that will stand up for itself.” He also said he hoped the real estate industry will have learned from Tishman Speyer’s mistakes of unrealistic expectations and disregard for the Rent Stabilization Law.
“They shouldn’t bank on being able to remove any of the tenants,” said Kavanagh. The “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” class action suit will keep ST/PCV stabilized until the J-51 tax abatement expires in 2020. On the other hand, with one-bedroom apartments in Stuy Town going for rents that start at close to $3,000, many of the newer residents of the community still consider themselves stabilized in name only.
Developer Richard LeFrak, who bid on the property in 2006, is possibly interested in doing so again, according to the Times piece. Another developer, Gerald Guterman, who’s openly expressed a desire to turn ST/PCV co-op, said that now he’s not sure what he wants to do.
Noting that the announcement by CW only gives potential bidders a month lead time, he quipped, “Fortress makes an offer today. You think it’s because they own CW and they’re not giving outsiders the opportunity? How do you have time to (plan) unless you are familiar with what’s going on?”
As for the reported bid amount, Guterman said he isn’t sure how that sale price could make it possible for current tenants to buy if given the option. He also wasn’t sure if the price is worth it considering all the students and others living in apartments converted with pressurized walls.
“It’s still a number where I could do it but I’m not sure I want to,” he said.
Meanwhile, last August, while still a candidate for mayor, Bill de Blasio penned an op-ed for this newspaper, saying the city should make sure ST/PCV remains affordable.
“While Peter Cooper Village-Stuyvesant Town is privately owned, the city has an obligation to keep its homes affordable for hardworking New Yorkers and their families,” he said. “PCV/ST was created through the power of the city and its use of eminent domain – therefore, it’s the responsibility of the city to ensure that these homes and other affordability housing are never beyond the reach of middle class New Yorkers.”
A spokesperson for the mayor did not respond to a request for comment on this story, but Garodnick said he learned that a tenant-led bid would have the support of the city’s housing commissioner, Vicki Been, and the deputy mayor for economic development, Alicia Glen.
News of the imminent sale comes on the heels of a settlement over five MCIs between CWCapital and the Tenants Association and word that “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” tenants will finally be paid the money they’re owed by CW.
With Tishman having paid a record-breaking price of $5.4 billion, along with $1.4 billion in mezzanine debt, there was $3 billion in senior debt (the lenders of which are represented by CW) and $1 billion in equity.