By Sabina Mollot
This week, the city issued stop work orders on four apartments in Peter Cooper Village that had been undergoing renovations, due to a lack of permits. The four units were among the 115 apartments in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village that are being reconfigured to add an additional bedroom in each, and management is currently in the process of applying for the permits for the work.
The Department of Buildings issued the stop work orders after inspecting the apartments on Friday morning, the ST-PCV Tenants Association said. In five apartments, they found three violations in each, all related to work without a permit. Stop work orders were issued on only four, though, since management was able to immediately get a permit for one of the units.
Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg said it was the TA who tipped off the city to the problem as well as alerting management, who had been unaware of the lack of permits. The TA was initially only looking into the situation after hearing from several tenants in neighboring apartments to the ones being renovated, who were complaining about noise, vibrations and even walls cracking. While management has been responsive to requests for repairs that Steinberg’s aware of, a few eagle-eyed residents also noticed that permits weren’t posted in buildings.
As of Monday, the DOB website shows that applications for permits have been filed at the affected addresses, 5, 6 and 8 Peter Cooper Road and 510 East 23rd Street.
Meanwhile, according to Steinberg, the top complaint with regards to the apartments has actually been about noise. “The noise seems to be the major issue,” she said. But, she added, “They can’t do anything about the noise.”
Council Member Dan Garodnick, who was working with the TA on the situation, said, “We expect management to play by the rules, and, regardless of how they allowed this to happen, they need to deliver on their commitment to correct this practice immediately.”
In response, a spokesperson for StuyTown Property Services, Paula Chirhart, said management is working on it and also working on making sure this doesn’t happen again.
A statement from SPS said:
“On Friday, the DOB issued violations on five apartments where a general contractor was found to have started work without proper permits. After an immediate review, the general contractor recognized that the DOB violations were correct and work on those apartments was immediately halted. StuyTown Property Services is reviewing the administrative processes used by the general contractor to insure this oversight will not occur again. StuyTown Property Services strives to be a role model property manager with all city agencies as evidenced by one of the lowest DOB violations count despite operating over 11,200 apartments.”
The TA has previously made its displeasure known about 115 apartments being subdivided, citing worries they’ll lead to apartments being churned, due to the loss of living room space, especially in Stuyvesant Town. Management, meanwhile, has gotten quite a bit of interest — around 400 calls as of August 1 — in the units from residents who seem willing to sacrifice room size for an extra bedroom.
Rick Hayduk, StuyTown Property Services CEO, said the newly designed apartments are different from “flex” apartments, those that were subdivided during the Tishman Speyer era to create another room in each with a pressurized wall, because they will have a closet and regular walls.