On the first day of the housing lottery’s launch, thousands rushed to apply online, despite a number of complaints about glitches on the website.
The steady stream of applications followed a story on Town & Village’s blog, information being dropped at tenants’ doors by Blackstone, and emails to neighbors from management as well as the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.
Paula Chirhart, a spokesperson for Blackstone, said while she didn’t know the exact number, thousands of people were able to get into the system online without a hitch. She declined to provide a number of applications filed at this point.
As for the reported malfunctions, it impacted fewer than one percent of users, she said, who had problems getting into the system. A few people had told Town & Village they hadn’t been sent passwords they needed to access the site. Chirhart said they were later contacted and sent temporary passwords by 4 p.m. the same day.
Council Member Annabel Palma, prime sponsor of the SBJSA City Council photo)
The Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, which had been languishing in the City Council for 30 years up until a recent organized push helped get 27 Council members to indicate their support for it, has been blasted by critics as being unconstitutional. What’s interesting though is that no one, not even its stiffest opponents, are giving any reasons why this is the case.
We won’t pretend to be legal experts but what we know is this. Owners of small businesses in this city are in desperate need of some bargaining power because right now they have none. At any time, any business that is doing well and meeting the needs of the community it serves could still disappear overnight, whether it’s due to an obscenely high rent hike or a refusal from a speculative landlord to even offer a renewal at any price.
We appreciate the effort being made by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on a bill that would at least force property owners to negotiate in good faith with a tenant. However, with the only sure thing in that scenario being a one-year lease extension for a business at a 15 percent rent hike, it just won’t be enough to stem the tide of mom-and-pops being forced out by chains and banks.
The SBJSA, however, if passed, would give an existing tenant another 10 years. This would actually make a huge dent in bringing back the stability the city’s retail landscape hasn’t known in many years.
While many longtime residents of Stuyvesant Town would be quick to argue that there are enough college students living in the community already, one entrepreneur is hoping to become the go-to person for students seeking a sublet at the property and said he’s arranged a few sublets already.
Lucas Chu, 27, has set up a website, nycollegerentals.com, aiming to connect would be subletters with residents looking to rent out their apartments for two to six month periods throughout Manhattan. However he’s currently pushing to do more in Stuy Town and the East Village, in particular Stuy Town due to its popularity with NYU students.
“I want to make that area my focus,” Chu told Town & Village on Tuesday. He’s found the sublets there and other neighborhoods south of Harlem through online listings, but said recently tenants and would-be subletters have also begun reaching out to him. “I want to represent more apartments in Stuy Town; there’s a lot of interest from NYU students,” he said. “So far I’ve handled three. I want to do more.”
The way it usually works is, after a tenant expresses interest, “I come over and assess the apartment. I take photos, I put up a listing,” Chu said. Listings go on real estate websites like Trulia and Streeteasy.
The service is free to the tenant offering the apartment, while the student pays a fee of 13.5 percent of what the rent costs each month of the stay. In order to comply with the illegal hotels law, which says residential units can’t be rented out for stays of 30 days or less, he’s made a point to make the arrangements a minimum of two months. Sublets can be for up to two years.
Chu, in his online bio, said he used to work for the Corcoran Group but recently branched out on his own and that he learned about working in real estate, including property management, from his father.
He’s been arranging sublets over the past year, he said, noting that some people just don’t want to get locked into a one or two-year lease. He also currently runs a commercial video production company called Melty Cone. His real estate website went up about six months ago, though this week, it attracted the attention of the Stuyvesant Town Report Blog for its push to get residents to sublet.
When told by this reporter about how the growth of the student population in recent years has also coincided with an increase in quality of life complaints from longterm tenants, usually of rowdy behavior and excess noise, Chu said, “There’s always anger when change happens. I guess I’ll do my research.”
When asked for CW’s thoughts about the new subletting service, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for the owner, said while management had no relationship to the company, it wouldn’t be CW’s place to tell Chu not to market a legal service to residents.
On his website, Chu notes that NYU “recommends our real estate services to all their students.”
However, a spokesperson for NYU, when questioned by T&V, said that isn’t exactly correct, although NYCollege Rentals is mentioned on the university’s website on a page offering information to students to aid in their apartment searches. NYU spokesperson Philip Lentz, said, “The site is listed among other sites in our resources for students. It’s not an endorsement.”
The mention of NY College Rentals also notes that NYU students get a discount on the broker fee though the company isn’t affiliated with NYU. NYU’s website also says that there are around 250 graduate students living in Stuyvesant Town in apartments leased through the school.