Pols ask Blackstone’s intentions on ST air rights

Comptroller Scott Stringer Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Comptroller Scott Stringer (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Local elected officials, while generally enthusiastic about the deal that the city has struck with Blackstone for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, still have some concerns about the details of the agreement, specifically regarding air rights.

Those four officials — Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney — addressed some of these issues in a letter to Jonathan Gray, the global head of real estate for the company, on Monday.

According to the Department of City Planning, “air rights” refers to the difference between the maximum amount of floor area that is allowed on a zoning lot and the actual built floor area. A transfer of air rights, sometimes known as unused development rights, allows that space to be transferred from one zoning lot to another, usually used to preserve historic buildings or open space. Air rights can usually be shifted from one adjacent lot to another but in the cases where historic buildings or open spaces are at stake, a transfer to a different location farther away is sometimes permitted.

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Blackstone addresses tenants’ concerns

Market raters bash deal, ask for insider priority on affordable apts.,

Blackstone says students have been top complaint of residents

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Blackstone senior managing director Nadeem Meghji, Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Council Member Dan Garodnick and ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg listen as Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Blackstone senior managing director Nadeem Meghji, Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Council Member Dan Garodnick and ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg listen as Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Following the news about a change in ownership just a few days earlier, over 500 Stuy Town residents showed up at a meeting on Saturday where a representative for the new landlord, Blackstone, answered questions.

Mayor Bill de Blasio popped by for a bit and spoke, as did U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, but the real star of the show wound up being Nadeem Meghji, senior managing director for Blackstone. Meghji started off by telling tenants at Baruch College’s auditorium that their various concerns, brought up in the days following the sale, were being taken “very seriously.” He indicated CompassRock would not continue to manage the complex, but then later said there isn’t a timeline for any change in management teams. Meghji, who was in charge of the Stuy Town deal, frequently elicited applause when responding to tenants’ questions although he admitted he didn’t yet have enough information to answer them all. He told tenants, in response to questions about student apartments, that Blackstone had been hearing about this issue more than any other.

He added that Blackstone would be seeking further tenant feedback via focus groups and a hotline.

“We know that we are going to need to earn your trust,” he said.

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Letters to the Editor, Oct. 29

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

What about the 6,000 other apartments?

I’m writing to express my extreme displeasure with the terms of the recent sale of PCVST, which the mayor and our elected officials have been touting as a victory in the press.

I believe this “victory,” unfortunately, serves the mayor’s political agenda more than it does the PCVST community as a whole. While reserving 5,000 units for affordable housing is a good thing – and an admirable goal to strive for – it will, sadly, come at the expense of the other 6,000+ apartments, including market rate renters, the majority of whom are hard-working families who want to live in PCVST because it is a great place to raise a family and is zoned in a great public school district.

These people are struggling like any other New Yorker. There are no millionaires living here. This deal has sold out more than half of this community – and yet there was Mayor de Blasio, flanked by our trusted elected officials, boasting of how he “saved” STPCV.

The mayor had a real opportunity to effect real change in this community. Instead he took the politically convenient route: finding the easiest way to add numbers to his affordable housing quota. What he failed to take into consideration is PCVST’s uniqueness. It is a whole community, not a spreadsheet. He could have used his political clout to not only save those 5,000 units, but to work toward a plan for tenant ownership, which would have ensured a true, long-lasting, and better community – and helped the community as a whole.

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