TA worried about apartments being churned
By Sabina Mollot
Blackstone has recently embarked upon an “experiment” with 115 vacant apartments in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village that involves adding a new bedroom in most of them by reducing dining or living room space. The plan also will create some new studio apartments.
News of the project was announced on Tuesday by the ST-PCV Tenants Association, which is staunchly opposed to it over concerns it will just add to the “churning” of apartments rented by transients.
Susan Steinberg, president of the Tenants Association, said StuyTown Property Services first shared the plan with the TA about three weeks ago but at that time it had yet to get the greenlight of the Department of Buildings. At this point, however, the city has signed off on the project because the TA has learned construction has already begun.
Details of the apartment conversions were shared in an email that was sent to neighbors along with the TA’s reasons for asking the landlord to scrap the whole project. In particular, Steinberg said, the Tenants Association is opposed to the Stuy Town subdivisions because in Peter Cooper, living rooms are spacious enough where losing some space wouldn’t be as drastic as the conversions in Stuy Town, which, the TA said, effectively turns living rooms into foyers.
According to the email, “The new program will convert 40 vacant Peter Cooper Village units by turning the kitchen of a one-bedroom unit into a bedroom and moving the kitchen into the living room; combining adjacent one- and two-bedroom units to form a three-bedroom unit; and reconfiguring adjacent one- and two-bedroom units to create a three-bedroom unit and a studio. The new program will continue to divide Stuyvesant Town living rooms of 75 vacant apartments to provide an additional bedroom at the expense of living and dining space.”
The Tenants Association went on to blast the plan, saying it “degrades the time-tested, well-designed layout” and “will likely result in an increase in the existing transient rent-a-room lifestyle. This is the antithesis of the original concept of our community. This reconfiguration will most certainly exacerbate the dormitory and churn effects which tenants have been objecting to since subdivision of apartments began. It will add further pressure to our aging infrastructure. It will continue to destabilize our once-cohesive community.”
The TA added Peter Cooper could be the exception in that the impacted units may still attract long-term residents, which, the TA went on to remind the owner, was supposed to be “the stated goal of both management and the Tenants Association.”
Asked about the new apartments, Marynia Kruk, community affairs manager for SPS, said this project is being done in response to renters’ demand for open kitchens and other design features not currently in the buildings as well as affordability.
“We are excited to be able to offer this new product mix at StuyTown and expect it will appeal to a variety of tenants, including families,” Kruk said. “We are doing this in response to feedback we’ve heard consistently from current and prospective tenants who are requesting real bedrooms with closets, open kitchens, and most importantly, affordability. This pilot project is a reaction to that demand, whereas SPS is adapting the floorplans of one percent of the total PCVST apartment count.”
Kruk added that there is now a waitlist for would-be renters of these apartments, although prices have yet to be determined.
However, Rick Hayduk, general manager of ST/PCV, said a converted two-bedroom will be cheaper than a standard one.
“We’re offering product diversity,” he said. “We have 750 square foot two-bedrooms in Stuyvesant Town, which are about the norm (in size) for New York City, but we also have two-bedrooms at 920 square feet, which is very large.”
As for the TA’s concerns about the units contributing to the dormification of the property, Hayduk disagreed.
“Our interests are aligned,” he said. “We too want stability in the community, but we must meet the needs of today’s residents.”