By Sabina Mollot
The new general manager of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper, Rick Hayduk, has promised tenants that Blackstone is focused on improving services and communication and in particular, said the hiring of four new plumbers should end the two to three week wait times tenants have been experiencing for repairs.
Hayduk made the comments on Saturday at a meet and greet event that was held at the tents at Stuyvesant Town’s Playground 11.
Around 150 people, mainly seniors and other longterm tenants, attended the event, as did a couple of elected officials, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Council Member Dan Garodnick.
While at a podium in front of a Stuy Town logo-covered step-and-repeat, Hayduk discussed various tenant concerns, including the recent spike in plumbing repair delays. “Our standard is two to three days and that’s what you should expect,” he said.
Hayduk also said that a hotline for tenants that Blackstone had set up after the company bought the property has been transferred to his office.
“Go through normal channels, but if (a request) needs to escalate, we’re here for that,” Hayduk said. The number is (212) 655-9870.
He also encouraged tenants to slip him notes, gesturing to his pocket while saying that several neighbors had already done so.
By Saturday, Blackstone had heard from over 30 percent of the community’s residents via surveys, as well as focus groups. Based on the tenant input, Hayduk said he understood that top concerns were plumbing, cleanliness, public safety presence and enforcement of rules.
Other major issues, which he said were brought up by tenants spanning all age groups, were loud parties from neighboring apartments and other neighbor noise and people who don’t clean up after their dogs. Additionally, said Hayduk, “Cross-generational, everyone wants to feel safe and everyone wants to be part of something.”
The new owners got some applause from the crowd when Nadeem Meghji, a senior managing director at Blackstone who was in charge of the Stuy Town deal, discussed how after hearing from tenants, it was clear that “CompassRock ultimately needed to be replaced.”
He added, “We met with third party managers and ultimately concluded the best way for us to deliver top notch service was to create a new management company.” Having the new manager live in ST/PCV, added Meghji, “gives him a different level of credibility.”
Hayduk, his wife Carol and two of their three daughters will be living in Peter Cooper Village.
Though he’s at this point only worked for the property since the start of 2016, Hayduk has worked with Blackstone properties for nearly a decade. He previously worked at the Boca Raton Resort & Club as the property’s president and before that he was regional managing director of South Seas Island Resort and the Inns of Sanibel. His career in property management and hospitality spans 30 years.
Knowing that some tenants would be concerned about his lack of experience in New York City residential, Hayduk, who grew up in Southern Westchester County, insisted he was up for the challenge.
“I’m in the business of taking care of people,” he said. “I will learn New York residential and I will learn it very quickly and in the meantime I have a lot of smart people around me.”
He also mentioned that Stuy Town would be Carol’s first experience living in an urban setting, but that his family was looking forward to the move.
Hayduk began his career in the hotel industry, in which his father also worked, and said he learned early on, from his father, about New York being a unique market. He even learned about the historical significance of ST/PCV from his father one time when they drove past the property on the FDR Drive.
Following his comments, tenants formed a line to speak with Hayduk about issues ranging from parts of the property in need of repairs to the lack of a dog run to a request from resident and rock singer Garland Jeffreys to put on a concert for neighbors.
When asked for their thoughts, several tenants told a T&V reporter they were glad to see a general manager living on the property, which hasn’t been the case since the Met Life days.
“It’ll be like the old days with Mr. Potter,” said Kristy Brown, referring to the late Bill Potter, a former English bobby who was a longtime manager for Met Life. “So we’ll be able to interact with him.”
Another resident, Barbara Stein, said she’s already begun to interact with Hayduk. After getting fed up by noise coming from the ice rink which she said echoes through her apartment during hockey clinics, Stein recently called in a complaint to the Blackstone hotline about it. Later, it was Hayduk who called her back.
As of the morning of the event, Stein conceded there was still plenty of noise from the hockey players, “but,” she said, “I’m confident he will do something.” Stein added that she wasn’t suggesting the hockey program be ended but that some sort of insulation be installed onto the sides of the rink.
Another resident, meanwhile, said he’d believe landlord-tenant relations in the community would improve when he sees it happen.
“I wonder what their motivation is by doing this,” the resident, who introduced himself as Stuart L., said of the meet-and-greet. “Because I think their goal is to push people out and go market rate and eventually go co-op and this (event) is indicative of wanting to keep people here. I don’t want to sound paranoid but I have my doubts.”
Seeming more optimistic about the future however was Garodnick, who was at the event with his two-year-old son Devin.
“This was the first event of this type that I have seen in 43 years,” said Garodnick. “And I think people really appreciate it. I’m so happy they’re moving to a resident manager because he is going to have greater clarity on what it means to be a tenant here.”
ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg, who was also in attendance, called the event “a sea change in culture.
“Blackstone understands that the value of this investment really depends on the service they provide to tenants, unlike other owners,” she said. “I don’t think they would put all this energy into it unless they mean it. They seem to want to fix things that have been broken around here for years.”
She gave an example of how since the owner took over the property, she’s heard a couple of tenants, including her father, say they finally have heat in their apartments.
Saturday’s event was one of four meet-and-greet events to take place through the week. Two others were held on Tuesday, and the last one will be held on Thursday, January 14 at 6:30 p.m., also at the tents at Playground 11.
At one of the Tuesday events, Hayduk also told tenants that the $75 lockout fee has been changed. A rep for Blackstone later confirmed that the lockout fee was rolled back to $50 plus tax. (The $54.44 would be charged on the next month’s rent statement.) In addition, the fee will be waived if it’s the apartment’s (not per resident or occupant), first lockout over a two year period.