Peter Cooper buildings get new video intercoms

By Sabina Mollot

In recent weeks, residents in Peter Cooper Village have either seen new video intercom systems installed in their buildings or received notice that the work will begin soon. Although a bunch of buildings have had the project completed already, management’s been mostly mum on the issue, declining to discuss the intercoms themselves.

However, at least one PCV resident gave T&V a review of the new product, saying he liked the old system better. Because, explained Council Member Dan Garodnick, the intercom that was recently installed in his apartment can only be used by the front door.

“I don’t like it as much as I like being able to pick up my phone wherever I am in my apartment to let someone in the door,” said Garodnick. “With two little kids running around, I like being able to pick up the cordless phone wherever I am.”

Another resident in a building that had recently gotten a notice that work would soon begin said residents still haven’t been told what day the project would start. She added that she and neighbors wanted to know since the installation requires worker access to individual apartments.

Last week, T&V asked management about dates and on Friday, Brian Moriarty, a rep for CWCapital, said tenants would receive at minimum five business days notice before work begins at their buildings. “Management will post an initial notice indicating the commencement of work in the common areas and will provide a subsequent notice in advance of the apartment installation that includes the date of installation and contact information to ask follow up questions,” Moriarty said.

The intercoms were installed first, last year, at a couple of buildings that were Sandy damaged. A resident at 7 Peter Cooper Road said overall the new intercom works well, though, thanks to the screen, everyone at the door appears to have a huge nose.

Another resident at 8 Peter Cooper Road said the intercoms are hard to use because it takes a while to scroll to find the person’s name. “You have to be a rocket scientist and delivery people don’t want to spend the time,” he said.

As to whether or not the work will mean another major capital improvement increase (MCI) for tenants, there’s no way to know for sure until an application is filed with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). However, residents have gotten MCIs for intercoms in the past.

The Tenants Association said this week that it is looking into the possibility.

“We acknowledge tenants’ concerns about the new intercoms, the quality of their installation, and whether they will be subject to an MCI,” said TA Chair Susan Steinberg.

Meanwhile, the TA has also been attempting to figure out its next steps with regards to two MCIs that it had been attempting to fight through the DHCR. The DHCR had recently rejected the TA’s arguments against the MCIs, which were for roof and elevator work in Stuyvesant Town. As a result, retroactive portions of those MCIs are now collectible.

“The Tenants Association and its attorney are evaluating the DHCR decisions and are concerned about what could be procedural irregularities,” Steinberg told T&V. “We hope to have more information soon.”

Letters to the editor, Sept. 25

Conversion would allow NYU tenants to buy

To the Editor,

A letter in your Sept. 18 edition says conversion of PCVST to condos can serve to end dormitory living here by NYU undergraduates. The opposite could happen. In a conversion, existing leaseholders have the right of first refusal to buy the apartments they are leasing.

If NYU holds leases on the apartments occupied by students, NYU would have the right to buy those apartments in a conversion.  Also, NYU would be able to buy any apartments not purchased by other leaseholders. NYU obviously needs student housing in this area. A conversion could result in an increase in the number of apartments occupied by undergraduate students.

There are efforts to keep, or make, PCVST affordable housing. That’s consistent with having undergraduate students as neighbors. Students need affordable housing. NYU undergraduates will disappear from PCVST when NYU builds more dormitories, or when rents rise to a level where the owner finds it more attractive to rent to someone other than students.

Another letter in the same issue wonders what happened to the concept of converting PCVST to condominiums. The beginning point of a conversion is either a purchase of PCVST by a new owner who will pursue conversion, or a decision by the present owner to do a conversion. If the property isn’t for sale, there can’t be a new owner.  So the basic question is: How likely is it that the existing owner will sell, or convert, the property?

PCVST was built and owned by MetLife as an income producing property, because MetLife wanted a reliable source of income. When MetLife sold the property, the largest source of financing for the buyer was first mortgage bonds purchased by large institutions. They bought those bonds, because they wanted a reliable source of income, and the bonds provided that.

When the owners of the bonds took over ownership of PCVST, they acquired a property that provides the reliable source of income they want. Ownership of PCVST meets their investment objective.

The amount of income the owners can earn from the property is limited by rent stabilization, until the low interest rate J-51 financing on the property matures in June 2020 (or earlier if the J-51 financing is prepaid).  Then apartments can move to market rents as provided by New York law. Thus, in six years the owners will be able to start increasing their rental income.

The owners are large, deep pocket, institutions.  For them, six years is a reasonable wait.

As the total rental income increases, the value of the PCVST will increase. The increase in rental income will occur gradually over a considerable number of years, and the property’s value will continue to rise during those years. At some point, the owners may want to cash out, either by sale or conversion. But right now the property is meeting the owners’ investment objectives, and future of the property is positive. It will be a lot of years before the present owners sell or convert.

Floyd Smith, PCV

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