By Sabina Mollot
Capped with yet another sale of Stuyvesant Town — this time with the highest price tag ever at $5.45 billion — 2015 was certainly an eventful year for the community.
Town & Village has taken a look back to find the top ten local events of the year.
1. The highly anticipated sale of course was a big one, with the deal being cheered as part of Mayor de Blasio’s campaign platform promise to preserve or build 200,000 units of affordable housing. The sale to new owners The Blackstone Group came as welcome news to many tenants due to its representatives’ willingness to listen to tenant concerns as well as a commitment to preserve 5,000 units of affordable housing. While for others — specifically, tenants in the other 6,200-plus units, the deal simply maintains the status quo of stabilized status with market rate tents. Blackstone has promised additional announcements early in the New Year, which hopefully will include a decision, made in cooperation with the city, of how people can get a lease to the affordable units as they become available.
2. Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, while always known as a bird sanctuary and a habitat for the world’s most well-fed squirrels, also managed to attract the attention of a coyote. The young female coyote, named Stella by Parks reps who rescued her, had been found wandering around the Avenue C side of the property near the Con Ed plant. She was captured by police officers, and then later released by the Parks department into a wooded area in the Bronx.
A Parks official T&V interviewed about the incident said that coyote sightings in the city are becoming more common, and she expected that this trend would only continue. Just a couple of weeks prior to the Stuy Town sighting, another coyote was found in Riverside Park, and in 2011, another coyote had wandered into Tribeca.
3. Stuy Town officially became known as an off-campus dorm. Many longtime residents of ST/PCV have complained for years about the influx of students into the community, which is believed to be behind a spike in quality of life complaints. However, their beliefs were in all likelihood solidified when a midtown sperm bank sent mailings to every apartment in Stuy Town in search of college-age recruits.
“Go on spring break — pay for it by donating sperm,” the mailers from Manhattan Cryobank read.
The CEO of the company said Stuy Town was chosen because it’s known to be home to many NYU graduate students and other men in their early 20s through their early 30s. (Ideal sperm donors are aged 18-35 and Cryobank only accepts donors who are in possession or pursuit of four-year college degrees.)
In response to the mailers, one resident, Linda Ayache fumed, “I think the new people (Blackstone) should know about this. They bought a sperm bank.”
4. Residents of Peter Cooper, Waterside, East Midtown Plaza and other buildings on or near First Avenue and 25th Street, where the city has been planning to build a sanitation garage, continued to aggressively argue their case of why this shouldn’t happen. From expected traffic delays from over 150 sanitation trucks competing with ambulances from local hospitals to the air in the Gramercy area already being thick with toxins, neighbors have steadily voiced their opposition to the project at various public meetings.
The city, while insisting the project is not a done deal, has not given any hint that reps have been swayed by the pleas of area residents.
5. With the conviction of two Albany chamber leaders as a grand finale, 2015 was a year that included the renewal of rent regulations, or rather “The Big Ugly.”
The nickname was given to the package of bills that finally were signed into law, after running past the deadline for renewal, by tenants. This is because, while slightly strengthened, the law did nothing to repeal vacancy decontrol or reform preferential rents. MCIs were reformed so that monthly payments by tenants were lower. However, they still have to be paid in perpetuity.
6. Meanwhile, the city’s Rent Guidelines Board issued its first-ever rent freeze for tenants signing a one-year lease. The freeze was actually somewhat a let-down for tenant advocates who’d hoped for a rollback and were also concerned about the two percent increase for tenants signing a two-year lease.
Rachel Godsil, the board’s chair, said the decision reflected a balanced concern for tenants and owners.
“In light of this year’s current data, a zero percent increase is appropriate,” she said. The two percent increase is to protect owners for costs that may arise. We need a careful balance.”
7. An arrest for a rape attempt in Stuyvesant Town in June followed two other similar attacks at the end of 2014, making residents deeply concerned about safety in the complex. In this incident, a man followed a woman into the building at around 3:30 a.m. and pounced on her in the vestibule. She was however able to fight off the suspect, 20-year-old Dominique Brown, of Harlem. The case is still pending.
8. In May, community residents got to hear the city’s ideas for protecting the waterfront from future disasters, which also included cafes and an elevated park at Stuyvesant Cove. For flood protection, options for the East Side Coast Resiliency project included a permanent berm or levee, a floodwall, which would also be permanent or deployables, which would be temporarily erected to prevent flooding.
9. Another part of this project, announced in October, was the proposal of a ferry landing at Stuyvesant Cove Park. Brought up at a public meeting, the idea of a new ferry landing at that spot wound up being a cause for concern for some Stuyvesant Town residents.
As one resident, Laura Koestler, pointed out, “With the possibility of a ferry over there, I just picture what the insane crowds have become at the Williamsburg Flea.”
10. Look out, Stella. Here comes #Pizzarat. Even a wily coyote in Manhattan couldn’t compete, at least not in terms of fame, with a rat who was videotaped lugging a discarded slice of pizza down a staircase.
The video, which was shot at the First Avenue L subway station, wound up being the inspiration for countless internet memes. “Pizza Rat? It’s Splinter bringing home dinner,” read one, a nod to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and “They found ‘this guy’ in New York. He ain’t from NYC if he don’t fold it first.”