Requests are for facade waterproofing, water heaters, video intercoms and ADA ramps, but Blackstone says it will walk away from $10M in potential fees
By Sabina Mollot
Blackstone’s management company for Stuyvesant Town, StuyTown Property Services, announced on Wednesday that it will be filing for four MCIs for work done in the complex starting two years ago.
The MCI (major capital improvement) projects are for: building façade waterproofing (which the owner said was mandated by law), upgrading the hot water heaters, video intercoms for Peter Cooper Village buildings and the installation of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant ramps.
If approved, the cost that would be passed onto residents in the form of a permanent rent increase that a spokesperson for SPS expects will be on average around $8 per month per apartment. While applications don’t guarantee an MCI will be approved, based on community history, the state housing agency, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, has never met an MCI it didn’t like.
MCIs will be filed for 54 building addresses, a few with multiple filings, according to SPS spokesperson Paula Chirhart. The intercom MCI will be for all Peter Cooper buildings, while the ADA ramp one will be for just two buildings, 400-410 East 20th Street and 430-440 East 20th Street, with a shared ramp at each building. As for the intercoms, the new system will have its own wiring instead of using tenants’ land lines. The water heaters are being replaced, because, according to Chirhart, at this point, the cost of repairing them would be higher than buying new. The waterproofing work is the result of inspections which take place every five years, with work being done if the inspection shows it’s necessary. That work is being done at 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 Peter Cooper Road, 511 and 531 East 20th Street and 510 and 530 East 23rd Street.
Chirhart added that out of $15 million worth of MCIs SPS believes it is entitled to, the owner will only file for around a third of that $4.9 million.
Chirhart explained waiving some of the charges is being done as a “first-time goodwill gesture,” considering Blackstone’s commitment last year not to exploit the MCI system as a way to inflate rents.
“From the very beginning of our relationship with the Stuy Town community, we have said that we will remain true to both the letter and spirit of the law on MCIs and transparent with tenants,” she said. “We will not file for MCIs unless the work being done is a needed improvement project and consistent with DHCR guidelines.”
In response to the news, Tenants Association Vice President Anne Greenberg said the association is looking into the new MCIs.
“We will do our usual thorough investigation of the MCI applications and ask the tenants to request an extension,” Greenberg said.
Council Member Dan Garodnick meanwhile said the latest round of MCIs is proof that the rent regulations are badly in need of reform.
“MCIs continue to be a way for landlords to impose incremental increases that stay on rent bills forever, and it is doing real harm to tenants fighting to make ends meet,” said Garodnick. “We need urgent reform in Albany and until that happens, I will work with the Tenants Association to challenge these MCIs if they are legally deficient.”
The aforementioned MCIs come on the heels of one for exterior restoration (façade) work that was filed for by CWCapital. That MCI, already approved by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal last month, will cost tenants $1.15 to $3 per room per month. It’s currently being challenged by the Tenants Association.
Residents who have questions about the MCIs are being advised by management to call (212) 420-5000 (menu option 3, followed by sub-menu option 3), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In somewhat related news, the rent has already gotten more expensive for drivers who park their cars in Stuyvesant Town’s garages. One irate reader informed Town & Village last week that the monthly garage fees went up by $20 with no notice. An employee at one of the garages confirmed that the price did go up at each of the property’s six garages, which are all run by QuikPark, but said he didn’t know why. A call to the company’s CEO, Rafael Llopiz, requesting comment, wasn’t returned.