Garodnick: Bondholders say they’re owed $4.7 B

Dec11 TA crowd

Tenants pack the auditorium of the Simon Baruch Middle School for the Tenants Association meeting on Saturday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buchel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
While the future of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village remains as uncertain as ever, at a meeting held on Saturday, tenants got walked through what some of the legalese concerning the foreclosure that had been planned for earlier this year and then canceled means for the community.

This was one of the topics covered at the meeting, which was held by the ST-PCV Tenants Association and attended by around 500 residents who packed the auditorium of the Simon Baruch Middle School.

Council Member Dan Garodnick discussed how when the foreclosure was canceled, the deed of property was transferred to the senior level of the trust. He said that this means the bondholders now own the property but CWCapital continues to represent their interests. He noted that the agreement put in place means that CWCapital could represent the bondholders for a term of three years, which is renewable for a second three-year term. He added that they originally acquired the property for $3 billion and are open to the possibility of conversion but only if they get back the $4.7 billion they are owed.

When a resident asked later in the meeting why the amount had increased so much, Garodnick noted that it was due to interest and fees.
“A whole list of junk,” he said. “‘Special servicing fees,’ that’s what they claim to be owed.”

Garodnick also addressed a question from a resident about CWCapital’s parent company, Fortress. While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have pledged to not approve of any deal that reduced affordable housing, Garodnick noted that it was possible to cut Fannie and Freddie out of the process if CWCapital hands the property over to Fortress, although he noted that this scenario is unlikely.

State Senator Brad Hoylman speaks to the crowd, while Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Council Member Dan Garodnick listen. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

State Senator Brad Hoylman speaks to the crowd, while Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Council Member Dan Garodnick listen. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Along with Garodnick, other local elected officials were in attendance to address the TA’s conversion effort, the state of affordable housing and other topics.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh were also at the meeting and were joined later in the afternoon by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Stringer assured the crowd his office is committed to preserving affordable housing, especially given the recent Democratic losses in Albany.

“Our office is ready to partner with whatever plan this Tenants Association puts forward,” he said. “Even the most important and ambitious housing plan can’t make up the loss if Stuyvesant Towns and Peter Cooper Villages of the world are lost.”
Stringer added that it was his son’s third birthday, eliciting cheers from the crowd. But when State Senator Brad Hoylman, who spoke next, made sure everyone was aware that it was also Governor Cuomo’s birthday, the room was silent.

“It’s just a fact. We’re gonna need him,” Hoylman said apologetically among laughs from the crowd after the negative reaction.

Holyman then discussed the Democrats’ current fate in Albany.
“Unfortunately it’s not very different from what you see out the window: cold, dreary and windy,” he remarked.

Hoylman blamed poor voter turnout in the recent midterm elections for Democratic losses in the state. With the rent laws up for renewal next year, he said that the Republicans’ new operational majority will make protecting tenants more difficult.

“Some Republicans live closer to Cleveland than to Manhattan,” he said. “But physically making yourself known makes a difference. We have numbers on our side and a lot of smart people on our side.”

He added that legislation protecting tenants did get passed in 2011 when Republicans also had a majority so he encouraged residents to remain optimistic.

TA attorney Tim Collins also spoke to address specific questions and concerns about rent and MCIs.

Collins discussed rent and MCI concerns at the beginning of the meeting. Residents of 431 East 20th Street in Peter Cooper Village said that they had received MCIs for façade work at the end of November and residents from 601 East 20th Street and 2 Peter Cooper Road also received docket letters from DHCR about MCIs for façade work.

“How is it restoration and improvement?” one tenant asked, prompting laughter from neighbors. Collins agreed with the assessment, noting, “It’s not an improvement, it’s a repair.”

A notice from the TA that was released on Monday said that more buildings will likely be hit with the MCI for façade work. The statement encouraged residents to keep the docket letters they receive about MCIs from DHCR and send copies to the TA so it can keep track of which buildings have received them and help tenants fight the rent increases.

Another issue discussed was apartment inspections with tenants skeptical that management only needs to give a day’s notice to come in for inspections. However, Collins confirmed that this is correct. If management needs to get into an apartment to do any work or make repairs, the tenants need to be informed a week in advance but if they need to get in just for inspections, they only need to inform tenants 24 hours before.

Collins also addressed late fees that some tenants have been charged with, including tenants who have been charged but said they don’t have a provision for late fees in their lease.

“If you have been charged a late fee, talk to management because there is no legal recourse for the fee,” he said, adding that tenants with such a provision who have been charged more than five percent should be getting a refund. He noted that there is also some leniency for tenants who are late on their rent the first time and he recommended talking to management about the fee.

TA chair Susan Steinberg noted that the TA will be meeting with management on December 16 and would be able to address questions from residents raised at the meeting, including the lack of action from public safety concerning speeding electronic bikes, disruptive NYU students and residents who are in non-compliance with the floor covering rules.

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Letters to the Editor, Dec. 11

Dec11 Toon de Blasio

Thanks, Con Ed, for Saturday morning ‘alarm’

The following open letter was written by Stuyvesant town resident Sherman Sussman, who had been getting routinely woken up by vehicles entering and exiting the Con Ed property during the wee hours of the morning.

Why??? You guys were doing so good. Not perfect by far but good.

So why is it that the neighborhood needs to be awakened at 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning?

Con Ed has decided that the big orange bucket truck with its noisy movement alarm (which is unnecesesary in a non-construction site, in fact the only noise that is being made is by the alarm) is necessary to move at this time in the morning.

A. Is it because there is an emergency? I don’t see one.
B. Is it because people like myself like to get a little more sleep on a Saturday morning?
C. Or is it because Con Ed really doesn’t care what they do at whatever time they feel like doing it?

Sherman Sussan, ST

Did you say… too much heat?

To the Editor:

I must admit to being flabbergasted by a letter in this week’s paper (“Can’t take the heat,” T&V, Dec. 4) complaining about too much heat in his/her apartment. Wish I could say the same.

In my building heat has been at a minimum. I always thought that when it is under 50 degrees outside, heat is required.

Oh well, maybe 20th Street has a different climate from 14th!

H. Zwerling,
430 E. 20th St.

Appreciative of T&V’s de-cluttering tips

Dear Town & Village,

I know I’ve written you in the past about how useful and informative and interesting AJ Miller’s column is, and I’m doing so again.

For example, her “De-cluttering problems and solutions” in your October 30 issue, as an example, was a simply written yet eloquently stated column.

Well-written and practical. She’s a gem as are many of your fine writers, reporters and columnists.

Thanks.

Richard Luksin,
Minneapolis, MN

What happened to going to the bondholders?

To the Editor:

On October 20, 2012, to great fanfare, press releases, and news conferences, local elected officials and the STPCV Tenants Association said that they were taking our case directly to the bondholders. TA leaders said the time had come to “cut out the middleman.”

If CW Capital would not give us a seat at the table, they said, then CW should step aside and we would “talk directly to the bondholders.”

Two years later, we have heard nothing. Apparently, the TA prefers to have press conferences.  Perhaps despite their promises, they did not really contact the bondholders. If they did, then we the tenants deserve to know what did the bondholders say.

The TA repeatedly says that it wants a seat at the table to allow the 11,000 tenants to take charge of their destiny and ensure middle class affordability through a non-eviction condo conversion.   But now Mayor de Blasio feels that STPCV should remain a rental complex forever, and the TA refuses to challenge him on it.

The TA apparently prefers to trumpet “affordability!” like a voice crying in the wilderness, rather than tell us what the bondholders said – and require the mayor to be responsive to 30,000 residents of our community.

Mayor de Blasio needs to stand with tenants, not with the developers of affordable housing and the landlords.

The time has come to go directly to the bondholders, as the TA promised us two years ago.

Name withheld, ST