Also: No permanent dog run, and no more marketing to students
By Sabina Mollot
On Saturday, Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk spoke at a meeting held by the ST-PCV Tenants Association to give updates on the property and to address tenant concerns from student apartments to rogue cyclists.
He also gave a long awaited answer to the frequent requests for a dog run — not happening — but indicated the defunct Stuyvesant Town flea market will return if management can find a way to do it that doesn’t increase the risk of bed bugs.
“They are horrific,” he said of the blood-sucking critters. Hayduk added that if the event were to be brought back, there would need to be so many items banned, from furniture to clothing, that, “The only thing left is a picture of dogs playing poker.”
When the resident who’d asked about the market responded to say she believed tenants would cooperate with whatever rules management comes up with, Hayduk responded, “It’s not a definitive no.”
The resident, Eve, who asked that her name not be published, added that she’s held onto things with the hope of hawking them at a future market.
“I’ve been here for 28 years. I have a lot of things to sell,” she said.
Later, Hayduk told Town & Village that he expects a flea market will take place by the end of the year, but again, he stressed, in a much more limited fashion.
“The new rules (to avoid bed bugs) will make the offerings a lot more limited but we’ll still have at least one,” he said, via email.
As for the lack of a dog run, Hayduk told residents, “This is a quality of life issue where we’ve received very animated commentary from both sides.”
But, he added, “We have no intention of a permanent dog run — period.”
Instead, management will continue hosting the occasional Dog Days events at different playgrounds, so no one in any neighboring building has to hear all the barking on a regular basis. The events held so far, he noted, have been very well-received. “The cross-generational event was overwhelming,” said Hayduk. “You had 26-year-olds with original residents and it was very heartwarming.”
Later, Hayduk added, when T&V asked about this decision, “I can’t speak to a few years down the road, but as of today and the foreseeable future, there will be no permanent dog run.”
At one point, jokingly referring to his statements as a “state of the union,” Hayduk also announced the debut of the “Oval office,” a period on Thursday evenings at 5 p.m. where either he or a senior management employee would be at the Oval to address any concerns from tenants.
He also noted that prior to the meeting, he’d gotten a call from Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct. “He said, ‘I’m here for you if you need me.’ I didn’t know how to take that,” said Hayduk. (Timoney also popped by the meeting for a bit, telling tenants they were welcome to stop by the precinct any time if they wanted to “say hello.”)
Hayduk then went on to say that after having met with around 1,000 tenants so far, he’s learned that the top areas of concern are laundry access, lack of responsible behavior from neighbors, dogs, students, Airbnb and smoking. In response, he said he’s met with the Tenants Association to get their suggestions and launched the Good Neighbors campaign, aimed at promoting courteous behavior. The recently introduced Dog Days events and the soon-to-come urns for smoking (away from buildings) are a part of that effort.
“So many of the issues in Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town are mirroring that of society today, generational differences, cultural differences, cohabitation in dense real estate in an urban environment,” said Hayduk. “So we started getting the word out, of let’s just be nice to each other. Many issues are simple courtesy and awareness.”
On the issue of noise from neighboring apartments, Hayduk said that as new tenants move in, they’ll be given gift baskets, with each one including two pairs of slippers, and a few felt pads to stick under furniture. To cut down somewhat on outdoor noise, Hayduk said the property was transitioning to using electric vehicles. For the sanitation crew, new wheels on the noisy carts will soon be air-filled tires.
On laundry, Hayduk said the owner had just spent $250,000 to replace the old washers and dryers, to fix ventilation issues in Peter Cooper Village and invest in new 150 laundry carts. The onsite laundry technician staff has also been doubled.
On students, while Hayduk didn’t commit to not renting to them, but said management no longer markets to that demographic. This is in contrast to the prior owner, who used to set up a booth at NYU’s freshman orientation events. Hayduk, however, then added that while students are always a hot topic, he’s seen a bigger influx of graduates, including a number of employees from JP Morgan. “The job growth is in technology, medicine and it’s turning out young professionals,” he said.
On safety, Hayduk said he’d been hearing about East 20th Street becoming “a collecting point where people seemed to have too much time on their hands.” He said a plan was to have neon vest-wearing Public Safety officers in the area, which ideally would scare off any loiterers. Hayduk later added that all officers now wear vests and beef up patrols in any areas deemed problematic. 20th Street, he explained, had become a frequent stop for people who don’t cleanup after their dogs.
Additionally, lest anyone get confused about the rules in the complex, management will also be putting up many new signs, with an estimated price tag of $800,000. “We’ll be modernizing the entire signage package at both complexes,” said Hayduk, “probably early 2017.”
Also coming to the complex soon — lottery winning tenants in affordable units, with the first ones moving in in early June.
Following his statements, Hayduk also answered some questions from tenants.
When one woman asked what was going on with the now under-renovation Oval Café, Hayduk said that it was being rebranded as “5 Stuy Café,” due to its address at 5 Stuyvesant Oval, and it would be opening mid-June. The new operator was the owner of Dough, a producer of “unbelievable pastries,” Hayduk said. He added that the menu was being changed and so was the entrance. Once reopened, it will be through the glass frontage that faces the Oval instead of being off to the side.
“We’ve committed to making it a social spot, not just a place where you’re able to get a coffee, but a place residents will want to meet at,” Hayduk said.
Another resident mentioned the poor state of some building elevators, particularly ripped up floors, which he believed was due to all the moving in and out. In response, Hayduk said the floors in the elevators will be replaced. He later told T&V there will be no MCI, since it’s a repair.
Another question, from Stuyvesant Town resident Arlynne Miller, was what management planned to do about neighbor noise from existing tenants. Hayduk responded that management conducts apartment inspections every two years, and checking for floor coverings was a part of that. While management would provide under-furniture padding, he said he’d been told by some tenants they just didn’t have the money for carpeting. But the tenant has to be given time to “cure” the problem, he told Miller.
When another woman complained about cyclists whizzing through the property’s inner roads at breakneck speeds, Hayduk mentioned the NYPD had recently begun a ticketing crackdown along First Avenue, but said he would mention this to the 13th Precinct.
The crowd was far smaller than usual for a TA meeting, with about 100 people in the audience at Simon Baruch Middle School’s auditorium instead of the usual 200-300. The meeting was also more low-key guest wise, without the regular crew of local elected officials with the exception of Council Member Dan Garodnick.
Instead of politicians, a few TA board members gave statements, including former TA President Al Doyle (now chair of the quality of life committee) who expressed optimism about tenants’ relationship with Blackstone.
He recalled how the TA’s meetings with prior owner CWCapital “yielded little results” because tenants never got access to actual decision makers. “With Blackstone we saw an immediate change,” said Doyle. “We have a live-in manager for the first time since the days of Bill Potter.” This prompted a round of applause from tenants who remembered the late property manager who worked for Met Life.
Susan Steinberg, president of the TA, noted earlier in the meeting that Stuyvesant Town had changed to the point of becoming a completely different place from when she moved in in 1980.
“Like Camelot, it’s no longer, there,” she told neighbors. “It’s not going to be recreated and we can’t bring it back.” However, she said that while she expected the owner and tenants to disagree on certain things, she expected the dialogue to be conducted “with civility.”
TA treasurer John Sheehy noted at one point during the meeting the association was currently fighting 12 open MCIs, all relating to façade work, affecting a total of 19 buildings. The TA’s lawyer has filed objections but has yet to hear back from the DHCR (Division of Housing and Community Renewal.)
Additionally, at the beginning of the meeting, six recently elected board members of the Tenants Association were announced. Three had been members already: Soni Fink, Steven Newmark (chair of the legal committee) and Kirstin Aadahl (secretary). Another three were new to the board: Gary Ireland, Matt Arden and Keith Powers.