By Sabina Mollot
Nearly four months after Stuyvesant Town tenants rallied on the steps of City Hall to demand a seat at the table and continued affordability in the event of a sale, the ST-PCV Tenants Association said on Monday that Mayor de Blasio has still not taken a position on the TA’s condo conversion plan. However, the TA said that it still believes its non-eviction plan is the best way to preserve affordability at ST/PCV and tenant protections and is still hoping to sway the mayor.
This was mentioned as one of several points in a notice the Tenants Association put online on its website on Monday. While there was nothing new regarding the ongoing talks with the mayor’s office, which are aimed at preserving affordability at roughly 6,000 apartments, Susan Steinberg, chair of the Tenants Association said the TA just wanted to let tenants know the effort is still ongoing.
“It takes so long for anything to happen,” said Steinberg, “and when things are slow we want to make sure people understand that it doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.”
The notice follows many letters in this newspaper as well as countless comments made by tenants via blogs and social media speculating as to whether a conversion will ever take place and if it would even be able to pave the way for a return to stability in the community.
At this time, the TA admitted that there are still more questions than answers on the subject, and that its attorneys were also helping to explore alternative ideas.
Meanwhile, the TA noted its hope that CW and the city will “define the level and method of long-term affordability, including a potential conversion — before ST/PCV goes up for sale.”
“What we would define as affordable would depend to some degree on median income, what is considered middle class,” Steinberg said. “Three thousand for a one-bedroom, five thousand for a two bedroom is not affordable. I’m of the mind that affordable is not market rate, so a fireman could live here, a nurse could live here, a teacher could live here. Not five students crammed into a one-bedroom apartment.”
Reps for the mayor have previously said tax incentives or subsidies were a possible solution to keep affordable apartments affordable while also admitting there’s no turning back the clock for “Roberts” tenants and others paying the higher rents.
The TA also said in its release that it didn’t expect the recently filed litigation by Stuy Town’s lenders, represented by the hedge fund Centerbridge, to affect a sale other than possibly by slowing it down.
“We believe that Centerbridge is interested only in winning money damages from CW and not in owning the property,” the TA said. The TA also noted how in a recent report, CWCapital indicated that it would likely begin to “evaluate disposition alternatives toward the end of 2014/2015, subject to the ongoing litigation.”
Meanwhile, the TA realizes that in the event of a sale, Stuy Town will likely have other suitors besides the TA.
“I think that 80 acres in Manhattan is a magnet for probably all of the big name developers,” said Steinberg. “I’m sure all the big names in real estate are just eyeballing us.”
This week, Garodnick said he’s remained in frequent contact with de Blasio’s office as the financials of the property are examined.
“I am encouraged that the mayor is as engaged as he is,” said Garodnick. But, he added, “It is still very early in the process towards a resolution.”
De Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell, who confirmed the mayor hadn’t taken a position on a condo conversion, also said while the “good faith discussions” were ongoing, CW has said it wouldn’t take any action with regards to a sale.
A spokesperson for CWCapital declined to comment on the talks.