Time to stand up against predatory equity
On Friday, June 13, after CWCapital forecloses on the mezzanine (junior) debt for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, there is a very real threat that Fortress, the parent company of CWCapital, could use a questionable contract clause to instantly become the owner of our two complexes.
What happens on that day will affect us all. It could be Tishman Speyer redux. The financial press is speculating, full of scenarios providing detailed financial road maps to our demise.
Fortress is seeking to bid $4.7 billion for a property valued at $3.2 billion. Possibly adding nearly 50 percent more debt to the property in yet another overleveraged buyout will lead to problems for every one of us. These problems will assuredly be worse than what we have faced since 2006.
A show of our strength starts at 10 a.m. on June 13, when members of our community will assemble at City Hall to demonstrate our backing of the elected representatives who right now are working to try to save us from a predatory takeover. Let’s show Mayor de Blasio that we are a community worth saving, and show the hedge funds and real estate moguls that we are a community to be reckoned with. It’s worth making a serious effort to swell the group that will be bused to City Hall and back.
The two core groups that make up our community must stay united.
The first group — the young families and responsible singles and couples — I like to call the “New Stabilizers.”
The New Stabilizers have held on, many by their fingernails, so they can convert their high rents into more affordable long-term equity as apartment owners. Members of this group are the most vulnerable to losing their homes via exorbitant rent increases. The point will come when large numbers of New Stabilizers will be driven from a community that has suited their needs. More instability for everyone.
It’s heartbreaking that New Stabilizers will have to uproot their children from our fantastic local schools that I and others here got the opportunity to go to. These parents will have the painful task of explaining to their kids why they have to make new friends as they are forced to find another home. For this group, a takeover by anyone other than the tenants is their tipping point.
The second group — long-term traditionally rent-stabilized tenants — has a target on their backs too. They’re not as easy to hit, but a predatory owner will try, using the same tactics so ferociously applied by Tishman Speyer to challenge the legality of tenants’ stabilized status. Demolition of buildings is also a possible — and perfectly lawful — means for eviction. Tearing down our aging structures and “developing” our green spaces with shiny new towers is one sure way to pay down the debt.
For all of us, a tenant-led purchase is the only defense against a new predatory landlord. If you’re a long-term rent-stabilized tenant, you’ll be able to stay in your home and enjoy the same rent-stabilized protections you’ve always had with neighbors as your owners rather than hedge funds or dynastic New York real estate families.
For all of us, a new predatory landlord means more bad leasing policies that expand the number of “converted” apartments, which create higher concentrations of roommates in dorm-like occupancy, accompanied by more of the inevitable noise and bad neighbor behavior.
Churn, transients and predatory speculation are the problems. The answers are the young stabilizing families and responsible couples and singles vesting in their community and standing shoulder to shoulder with their longer-term neighbors who may wish to remain as renters living peacefully in their homes.
We all share the desire for our children and our neighbors’ children to grow up in the same safe, unique, extraordinary city setting many longer-term tenants have had. We need to carry on that tradition.
If ever there was a time to be vocal and visible, that time is now. If we just accept what might happen on June 13, we and our children will have to face the consequences.
Don’t let Friday, June 13, be the final chapter. Join us and fill the steps of City Hall to show the world we are organized and that we are a community, not a commodity. For more information about the rally and to RSVP for transportation, visit http://stpcvta.org/june13 or call (866) 290-9036.
John H. Marsh III,
Peter Cooper Village
Answers on local effects of climate change
To the Editor:
I’d like to bring to the attention of our neighbors who were affected by Hurricane Sandy but who may still be questioning whether climate change is happening due to human continued use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas (methane) that the Sierra Club has some answers.
Their monthly meetings take place in the Seafarers & International House located at 123 East 15th Street on the northeast corner of Irving Place on the third Wednesday of the month. On May 21, I attended the third in their sustainability series called “Photovoltaics.” To my surprise and delight the first speaker was Chris Neidl recently back from India and at work again with Solar One. Chris was followed by Marlene Brown from the New Mexico Department of Energy. Both speakers answered many questions from the packed audience about solar energy for New York City.
Many of us remember how when Hurricane Sandy hit, the Solar One building in Stuyvesant Cove Park was the only place in our neighborhood that had electricity due to solar energy stored in its generator and people were coming to power their cell phones and medical apparatus. Solar One staff and volunteers brought solar panels and apparatus to the hard hit areas of the Rockaways and other coastal areas of NYC to help out.
On Wednesday, June 11, Solar One will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a boat trip from the East 23rd Street pier at 6 p.m. followed by a picnic supper and dancing under a big tent at the Cove until 10 p.m. For more information and other events go to http://www.solar1.org.
The last in the Sierra Club Spring series takes place on Wednesday, June 18 on President Obama’s climate action plan with the Judith Enck, Head of Region 2 EPA (NY, NJ and Puerto Rico) as the speaker. There have been many ideas suggested for how hard hit coastal areas like ours can be protected from future storms. This would be a good time to ask our questions and hopefully get some answers. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for socializing and refreshments. Programs start at 7 p.m. $10 suggested donation; $3 for students.
Who knows? Maybe it’s a dream, but perhaps sometime in the future Stuyvesant Town could become an Eco Village and resilient.
Joy Garland, ST