Stuy Town’s general manager discusses projects and policy
By Sabina Mollot
Earlier this month, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village’s general manager David Sorise sat with a Town & Village reporter and answered a number of questions about ongoing projects and policy in the property.
The interview, which took place at the gleaming new management office, also centered around CompassRock’s hope of managing Co-op City (which was covered in another article last week).
As for other issues that came up, one was ongoing construction and renovation work.
Stuyvesant Town buildings are now in the process of getting a new intercom system, similar to the ones now used in Peter Cooper Village.
Sorise said every building will be getting the intercoms. “Our old system is difficult to service because it is an old technology,” he explained.
When working on the year’s capital budget, management determined that replacing the system would actually be more cost effective than maintaining it.
“It makes sense — it’s something we had to do proactively. The project should be completed this year.”
Since it’s a capital project that does mean it could be applicable for a major capital improvement (MCI) increase.
Another effort is to become more energy efficient and currently building stairways are getting outfitted with LED lights. The next project is to install the long-lasting bulbs in hallways too.
“The hallways will happen later this year,” said Sorise.
The lighting will include a dimming feature that’s motion activated so that when the hallway is empty the lights are dimmed but when a door swings open, they go up to full power. The lighting in ST/PCV is expected to be a two-year project.
On the time table, Sorise said, “The logistics of an LED retrofitting over 100 buildings is more complicated than one might think.”
Following a particularly harsh winter, another big project is determining the needs of the property’s green spaces and then cleaning up and adding more color. At this time, the head landscaper is determining the amount of loss from the winter.
Another ongoing project is the completion of the new management office, with the completion of the green roof delayed due to the long winter.
However, renovation of the playground across the walkway from the office has been completed and it opened for the use of families last weekend.
As for the generator behind the playground equipment that’s positioned against the leasing office building and covered in green material, Sorise said it’s quite secure there. The generator is similar to one located by the Public Safety office, with the machines there to make sure both offices can operate in the event of another disaster or blackout. Another recent addition to the management office/playground area are some benches and tables along the walkway. The next project is to put plantings on the management office green roof.
When asked about Stuy Town’s five new studio apartments, which went on the market last December, Sorise said two have been since been rented, and the other three are still available. (Recently, listings for the studios, which came down in rent twice, were removed from Stuy Town’s website.)
Also available for rent are two First Avenue storefronts, the former RadioShack and Second Time Around consignment shop.
Noting the latter store’s departure in March, Sorise noted that the property has just not had a lot of interest from clothing retailers, but has gotten a lot of interest from food related businesses. Fortunately, this is also what residents tend to request the most.
“It’s not just about which person’s going to pay the most rent,” he said. The newest retail tenant is Chipotle.
Sorise also noted that two longtime Stuy Town tenants, Starbucks and Gracefully, have been doing well since opening second locations in Peter Cooper Village. Along with PCV tenants, business comes from the nearby VA Medical Center.
While longtime neighborhood institution Ess-a-Bagel is on the lookout for a new home in the neighborhood, a Stuy Town spokesperson said there is no deal in place with the company.
But, noted Sorise, “They would be a great tenant to have. Pommes Frites would also be a great addition.”
Sorise declined to get into what rent costs in the property’s retail spaces, noting that it varies from 14th Street to 20th Street to First Avenue.
On the topic of one the most common tenant quality of life complaints, the state of the laundry rooms, seven of them in Stuyvesant Town will get new washers and dryers, starting this week, and upgrades will continue through the year. Management has said eventually all the laundry rooms will get new equipment, just not all at once and there’s still no expected date for the completion of the project. The machines are Wascomat models, which are the same ones recently put into basements in Peter Cooper Village buildings that had laundry facilities damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
In response to another frequent resident complaint that sometimes doors are left propped open by contractors, Sorise said workers have been instructed not to do this and that now when a door is left open, an alarm alerts Public Safety. Contractors also have ID cards and are checked in by Public Safety.
But, noted Sorise, “It’s one of those things you have to constantly reinforce.”
Lately, at least in the letters section of this newspaper, another recurring complaint is that of noise from neighboring apartments. Whether the problem is constant partying or stomping around with shoes on, this has led some tenants to wonder if the rule about floors needing to be 80 percent covered has changed. According to Sorise, it hasn’t. Additionally, he said complaints about neighbor noise are investigated by Public Safety.
If substantiated, the offending apartment will get a letter in the mail alerting its occupants to the fact they’ve disturbed their neighbors. If the problem persists, then it’s time for a “stern conversation” with the legal department, and if that doesn’t work, the owner could evict.
Sorise noted that management just won the right to evict tenants in housing court who’d been “generally disruptive.” That disruption included fights mainly and loud noises in the hallway and confronting the neighbor who’d complained about it. However, this court process took a year and half.
Sorise has been a New York property manager for 11 years. When brought to Stuy Town, initially as a consultant, one of the challenges he was tasked with at the 67-year-old property was to modernize it through practices the company uses nationally as well as use of technology. He explained it was a necessity for managing a property so massive.
This even included projects like changing the way the community’s trash gets taken out in order to minimize the time bags spend out on the curb. In ST/PCV, 140 tons of trash are removed each week and that doesn’t even include recyclables. The property has its own sanitation trucks and the trash, after getting picked up, is left for the Department of Sanitation at a central location.
It was not long after CompassRock’s involvement at Stuy Town when the property was battered by Hurricane Sandy. Sorise recalled the effort at the time not only to make emergency repairs, but to make sure all tenants were checked in on. Though there was no power, CompassRock managed to send out regular e-blasts as well as make updates on social media about the status of the community for the benefit of residents’ relatives and residents who could access power elsewhere. At the request of relatives, employees would also check on residents. In the days after the hurricane, with the cooperation of tenant volunteers and elected officials, employees checked in on every apartment, with followup visits to bring medicine or other needed items. Security officers also carried some residents down dark stairwells in order to bring them to other facilities. The maintenance employees meanwhile, slept in the buildings, after working 14-hour shifts.
“You had a passionate team that always worked very hard for the property, but they really stepped up for the tenants,” Sorise said.