Study shows where tenants are freezing the most in their apts.

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The “bomb cyclone” hits New York City on January 4. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel_

By Sabina Mollot

With temperatures that now feel downright tropical in comparison to the deep freeze of last month, it may be hard to imagine that the first week of the year was a record breaker for heat complaints.

However, according to a study conducted by RentHop, an apartment listings service, the “bomb cyclone” on January 4 contributed to 30,000 complaints being made by New Yorkers during the first week of the year about a lack of heat in their homes. The study was based solely on complaints made to 311 and the number was about the same as heat complaints during the first week of the year from the previous three years combined.

The study also noted that neighborhoods with the most complaints were less expensive ones and many were also high-complaint areas last year. The study also came up with a formula that “de-dupes” or ignores duplicate complaints (more than one from one address on the same day) and also “normalizes,” taking into account that some neighborhoods are bigger than others by calculating complaints per 1,000 units. The study also determined which apartments were priciest by looking at the average asking rents of one-bedroom apartment listings in 2017. In doing so, RentHop found that Erasmus in Brooklyn had the most complaints in its’ “de-duped, normalized” formula at 117.5 that week, higher than the previous year’s 79.9 complaints. One-bedroom apartments in this area go for $1,750. There were 1,516 actual complaints.

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Lottery reopens in Stuyvesant Town

Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town’s apartment lottery has reopened, this time for applicants earning a maximum 165 percent of the area median income (AMI).

The lottery opened on January 16 and would-be residents (and current residents) have the opportunity to apply until February 21, 2018. The waiting list for people who’ve already applied is still active, so no further action is required on their part.

Applications are currently being accepted for one-bedroom apartments at $2,889 and two-bedrooms for $3,543 in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village. An advertisement for the lottery puts the income limits for the one-bedroom apartments at $110,220 for a single person, $126,060 for two people and $141,735 for three. For the two-bedroom, income limits are $126,060 for two people, $141,735 for three, $157,410 for four people and $170,115 for five. Applicants also can’t have more than $250,000 in assets though sometimes there are exceptions with regards to retirement accounts.

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Watchdog says affordability preserved through Stuy Town deal was exaggerated

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Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials with tenants in October, 2015 announcing the sale of Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In October of 2015, a grinning Mayor Bill de Blasio stood alongside other elected officials to declare that the sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to The Blackstone Group and partner Ivanhoe Cambridge was the “mother of all preservations deals.”

However, the Independent Budget Office of the City of New York (IBO) is now suggesting, in a report released Friday, that the amount of affordability preserved was inflated.

The IBO estimated that while the deal was supposed to preserve 100,000 “apartment years” (the equivalent of 5,000 apartments for 20 years), 64,000 of those apartment years would have remained affordable anyway through rent stabilization. This would mean the deal really only saved 36,000 apartment years, not 100,000. The report also noted that when the sale took place, just over 5,000 apartments were already renting at below-market rates due to rent stabilization.

While there has been plenty of debate over just how “affordable” the 5,000 apartments that are preserved and leased through a lottery system actually are, according to the IBO, only three percent of those 100,000 apartment years are reserved for low-income households. Twenty-seven percent are intended for middle income households while the remaining six percent of apartment years are units that will remain rent-stabilized longer than they would have without the deal. For its report, the IBO said it considered all of the newly created lottery apartments as well as ones that remain stabilized to be benefits to the city.

Additionally, the report indicated that the city used some misleading numbers at the time of the property sale.

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ST girl recognized as Boy Scout after 11 years of Scouting

Sydney Ireland speaks at the National Organization for Women convention in 2015. (Photos courtesy of Gary Ireland)

By Sabina Mollot

Since the age of four, Sydney Ireland knew that she wanted to be a Boy Scout. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t a boy. Her older brother Bryan was a Scout — later an Eagle Scout — and she wanted to be doing the things he was doing, from earning merit badges to ice climbing in Lake Placid.

Now 15, Sydney has been active in the Boy Scouts — albeit unofficially — for over a decade, and has been along with her family, pushing for the national organization to formally accept and recognize the contributions made by female members like herself. She first reached out to the organization via an op-ed in this newspaper. She’s since done a handful of interviews on the subject and recently even got the backing of NOW.

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Stuy Town attorney aims to make practicing law a less brutal sport

Marjorie Silver has authored a book on collaborative law. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A Stuyvesant Town attorney, whose career has been shaped by alternative law, or more specifically, law when practiced in a way that’s meant to be more civil — and less traumatizing — for all involved in a case, has just released on a book on the subject.

Transforming Justice, Lawyers, and the Practice of Law was put together by Marjorie Silver, who also wrote one chapter with the other 15 chapters written by different authors.

Nearly all those authors, along with Silver, were participants in the Project for Integrating Spirituality, Law and Politics (PISLAP), which is aimed at making law more collaborative and less adversarial. The publisher is the family-owned Carolina Academic Press.

Silver, who’s been an attorney for decades and is also an associate professor at Touro Law Center, said she has always tried to encourage students to practice law in the same fashion, “in a way that’s less adversarial, more healing.”

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Democrats vying for Kavanagh’s Assembly seat

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Harvey Epstein (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Following Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh’s easy victory at the polls last week for the downtown Senate seat he wanted, two Democrat candidates have expressed interest in filling the now vacant 74th District Assembly seat.

One of them is Harvey Epstein, a tenant representative on the Rent Guidelines Board and the project director of the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center. The other is Mike Corbett, an aide to Queens-based City Council Member Costa Constantinides and a former teamster. Marie Ternes, a communications consultant who previously worked for then-Congress Member Anthony Weiner, said she is considering running.

Recently, outgoing City Council Member Rosie Mendez told Town & Village she was mulling a run for Assembly, but then later told the local blog Lo Down that she’d decided against it. Council Member Dan Garodnick has also previously said he has no plan to run.

Corbett, Epstein and Ternes spoke with a Town & Village reporter this week, although Ternes declined to be interviewed at this time since she hasn’t yet made a decision on running.

It’s expected that there will be a County Committee vote held by each party to determine who will get onto the ballot for a special election. However, it’s still unclear when the vote will be or when the election will be, since a special election must be called by the governor. Another possible, though unlikely, scenario is that there will be a primary in June when there’s a Congressional primary, or even later.

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Veterans Day celebrated in Stuyvesant Town

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Residents place flags on the Oval lawn. (Photos by Kristy Ye-Ling)

By Kristy Ye-Ling

Despite frigid temperatures, around 150 Stuyvesant Town residents gathered on the Oval on Saturday morning for a Veterans Day ceremony held by management. General Manager Rick Hayduk welcomed everyone in brief opening remarks and introduced a few veterans. Then, residents had the opportunity to place American flags on the Oval lawn. A total of 7,008 flags were planted to express gratitude towards the servicemen and women who lost their lives since September 11th, 2001. Additionally, yellow paper was tied in bands around the trees in the area where residents (eventually hundreds) wrote thank you messages to veterans.

One of the veterans in attendance was former Navy personnelman Daniel Murphy, who shared, “I was in the Mediterranean three times, the Caribbean four times.” His most memorable experience was having President Kennedy on his ship during the Cuban crisis where he led a flotilla of 86 ships as a flagship.

 

 

DEC: Contaminant recovery wells won’t be intrusive

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New York State Department of Conservation project managers Gardiner Cross and Doug MacNeal at a public meeting last Wednesday (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

With a contaminant recovery plan having been proposed for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, representatives from the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) addressed concerns of residents last week at a public meeting.

This included making assurances that wells the DEC and Con Edison plan to build in ST/PCV to collect the leftover chemicals so they can be disposed of wouldn’t be intrusive. Con Ed has been working with DEC on what’s been referred to as a “remediation” for the site, which was once home to a manufactured gas plant (MGP).

The DEC had actually directed Con Edison to begin remediation for this project back in 2011. However, DEC project manager Doug MacNeal said during the meeting that the process was delayed for the last five years because of the changes in ownership at ST/PCV.

MacNeal said that exact locations haven’t been determined for the wells yet, but Council Member Dan Garodnick, who was also at the meeting, which held at Beth Israel last Wednesday, said that he would push DEC to site them as far away as possible from doors, windows and playgrounds.

One possible location for the wells, of which there will be 10 in Peter Cooper and six in Stuy Town, would be inside the garages. Meeting attendees burst into laughter when geologist and DEC project manager Gardiner Cross said that this was because the garages already have good ventilation. However, MacNeal backed up his statement, explaining that to be up to code, a garage has to have a functional ventilation system. If it doesn’t, he added, residents should contact DEC.

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Stuyvesant Town going solar

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Rendering of Stuyvesant Town as it would appear following installation of solar panels (Photo courtesy of StuyTown Property Services)

 

By Sabina Mollot

On Wednesday, Stuyvesant Town’s owners, Blackstone and Ivanhoé Cambridge, announced plans to install solar panels on all of the roofs in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Additionally, they said, it will be the largest private, multi-family residential solar project in the country.

The 3.8 Megawatt (DC) solar energy system will span across the property’s 22 acres of rooftops.

According to the owners, once the project is completed, StuyTown will have tripled Manhattan’s capacity to generate solar power. Renewable energy developer Onyx Renewable Partners is the project developer for the installation, which is expected to begin this winter and be completed in 2019.

The installation will consist of 9,671 high efficiency solar panels and will generate enough energy to power over 1,000 New York City apartments annually. The project is expected to offset approximately 63,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is comparable to removing 12,000 cars from the road for a year.

“We are incredibly proud of the long-term partnership we are building with the StuyTown community,” said Nadeem Meghji, head of Real Estate Americas at Blackstone. “In 2015 we made a commitment to preserve StuyTown’s unique heritage and be responsible stewards of its future. This innovative solar project is one of many initiatives we designed and implemented to make the community more sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

A spokesperson for Blackstone added that there will be no major capital improvement rent increase for the project, and that early on in the new ownership, environmentally friendly projects were actually suggested by residents in response to surveys issued by management. According to the Wall Street Journal, the project will cost $10 million.

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Stuy Town resident honored for career coaching NBA players

John “Butch” Purcell, also known as the mayor of Stuyvesant Town, pictured with his pooch Ginger (Photo by Kelly Vohs)

By Sabina Mollot

Longtime Stuyvesant Town resident John “Butch” Purcell, known to many of his neighbors as the mayor of Stuyvesant Town, was honored last weekend by the Brooklyn USA Athletic Association for his career coaching basketball players.

On Sunday, he was inducted into the group’s now 37-year-old Basketball Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in Brooklyn’s El Caribe Country Club.

A number of National Basketball Association players have also been honored, which, said Purcell, is “why it’s a great honor to be inducted.”

Purcell, now 72 and retired, coached athletes from 1972-1992 at Harlem’s Rucker Park tournaments as well as for the New York Pro Basketball League. During those 20 years, he estimated he’s coached over 75 NBA players, including Julius “Dr. J” Erving. A big part of his job involved training the summer league, “keeping players in shape, keeping them in tournaments, keeping them ready for fall,” Purcell said.

Other players he coached included Charlie Scott, Billy Paultz and Kenny Charles.

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UPDATED: Con Ed recommends putting wells in ST/PCV to recover contaminants from former gas plant

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The gas works and storage tanks of Con Ed’s predecessor company in 1890. (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

UPDATE: Con Ed has changed the date and venue of the upcoming meeting. It will be on Wednesday, November 1 at 7 p.m. at Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Podell Auditorium in the Bernstein Building, 10 Perlman Place, one block west of First Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets, according to an email sent to neighbors from the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.

By Sabina Mollot

As most people who live in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village know, the property is the site of the former Gashouse District, named for the Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) stations and facilities run by Con Ed and its predecessor companies.

In recent years, the utility has been conducting an investigation in and around ST/PCV, looking for contaminants in the ground, groundwater and air. The investigation is being coordinated with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the State Department of Health.

According to the study’s findings from investigations in 2006 and 2008, contaminants were found, but located deep in the ground (at least five feet) with most even lower, and in groundwater beneath the site, though that water is not used for drinking. MGP residential levels tested in the air indoors were found to be typical. Outdoor air samples collected were also found to be normal for an urban area. Because of this, Con Ed said in an advisory this week that it’s unlikely people will come into contact with these contaminants, though air monitoring will continue.

Still, the company is now proposing a “remediation” (cleanup) plan for the site that involves, among other things, the placement of wells.

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Stuy Town garage customers won’t get expected refunds

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Stuyvesant Town’s garages are run by Quik Park. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

For the Stuyvesant Town residents who are customers of the complex’s six garages, which are run by Quik Park, the wait for a refund for $60 in rate increases that came without notice last year is finally over. This is because there will be no refunds issued to these customers after all.

In July, Councilman Dan Garodnick said he was told by the Department of Consumer Affairs that refunds were on the way for customers of Quik Park (parent company Citizens Icon Holdings) who’d been issued an improperly implemented increase. This was accurate, but apparently the Stuy Town garage customers were not included in that pool of motorists. The only refunds that will come through are for customers who’d gotten a notice that the rate hikes they were being charged were for a “Living Wage Assessment,” which happened elsewhere in the city.

Asked if there was still a possibility that the Stuy Town customers could see their money back as well, a spokesperson for the DCA didn’t have a response, but did say the department was working with the garage company (and others in the industry) to ensure customers will receive proper notice of increases in the future.

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Mind the gap

ST/PCV moms share tales of toddlers’ hands getting stuck in elevators doors

By Sabina Mollot

If your young child ever got his or her hand stuck behind the door of an elevator, you’re not alone.

Two weeks ago, a Stuyvesant Town toddler broke her finger after her hand got stuck into a gap in the moving elevator door in her building. Then, after it happened, the girl’s mother posted a warning to other parents on a local Facebook group, only to then hear from several other parents that the same thing had happened to their children over the years, in Stuyvesant Town as well as other places.

The girl’s mom also later spoke to Town & Village about the incident, which she was shocked to learn was a relatively common occurrence.

The mother, who asked that her name not be used, said on September 21, she and her daughter arrived on the T level in her building and when the elevator door opened, the girl put her hand on the inside of the door.

“I lunged, but not fast enough,” her mom said. When the door opened fully, it pulled the girl’s hand into the gap that hides the inner door, trapping her hand into a very narrow space. After a few minutes of pulling and screaming (on both the mother and daughter’s parts), they were able to get the girl’s hand free. A trip to NYU Langone confirmed that her ring finger had been broken.

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Stuyvesant Town woman seeking kidney donor

Barbara Levin

By Sabina Mollot

For the past 40 years, Stuyvesant Town resident Barbara Levin, an occupational therapist, has helped sick and disabled children develop the basic skills they need to maintain their independence, including many of her own young neighbors. However, because of a birth defect that left Levin with kidney disease — and now an imminent need for a kidney transplant — Levin is turning to the community she’s worked with for help.

Levin, who reached out to Town & Village earlier this week, said she’s been on the waiting list for a kidney from a cadaver for two and half years, but the waiting list is 7-9 years. Meanwhile, she’s already exhausted her options from friends and family. Fourteen family members as well as friends have already been tested to see if they’d be a good match and all were rejected for various medical reasons. Getting a kidney from a living donor would be ideal, she explained, because on average those last twice as long as the ones from cadavers, and they start working sooner with less of a chance of rejection.

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ST man writes book about Jewish relatives you never knew you had

Warren Alexander, author of Cousins’ Club (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After penning a satirical novel about America’s most unsuccessful Jewish family – despite their many schemes, including a basement bialy racket — Warren Alexander began hearing from readers around the world who felt they were reading about their own relatives.

“A woman from South Africa said, ‘This is my family,’” recalled Alexander. “A friend from Spain said, ‘Are you writing about us?’”

The Stuyvesant Town resident, whose book, Cousins’ Club, was self-published earlier this summer, said he was surprised at how universal the story seemed, considering much of the humor comes from distinctly Jewish cultural references. Not to mention, the pressure within the Jewish culture to succeed, particularly in a financial sense.

“You have 5,000 years of success. Freud, Einstein, Karl Marx, who have changed the fabric of society,” said Alexander. “Not only do you have to be successful for yourself and so your family will be proud of you but you have all these people, like Sandy Koufax and Steven Spielberg. There are only 14 million Jews worldwide, but Jews are 20 percent of the Nobel Prize winners. So you have that extra burden.”

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