Former PCV resident returns through apartment lottery

Nichole Levin, holding a gift bag with slippers at home on Monday, is happy to be back in Peter Cooper Village. Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, March 31, Nichole Levin, an elementary school teacher and Peter Cooper Village native, got the phone call she’d been waiting for over a year. Her application to the Stuyvesant Town lottery for reduced rent apartments had been accepted. In fact, she was told, she could move in right away, and the apartment was in the same building in Peter Cooper Village as her mother’s home.

The news came as a happy ending to what was a somewhat stressful process, due to the wait — she’d even had to extend her current lease in Tudor City by a month while sorting out a paperwork issue.

Levin, 41, has since spoke with Town & Village about her experience, and has also since moved in (on Monday).

It was last March when the lottery opened for the first time, inviting those with incomes no higher than 165 percent of the area median income as well as those earning no more than 80 percent of the AMI to apply. Levin, who teaches English as a Second Language, had an income that made her eligible for apartments for renters in the upper income tier. Last March, this was $74,850-$99,825 for a single person seeking a studio or one-bedroom. It wasn’t until September, however, that she was contacted for a routine credit check.

Continue reading

Stuyvesant Town Associated is still waiting for answer on lease renewal

Stuyvesant Town’s Associated Supermarket (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, following an op-ed being published in the newspaper The Villager in support of the Small Business Jobs and Survival Act, many Stuyvesant Town residents became alarmed after reading a sentence that mentioned the owner of the complex’s Associated supermarket was told he would not get a lease renewal.

Town & Village since reached out to Blackstone, and a spokesperson for the landlord, Paula Chirhart, said a final decision on whether to renew or not has not yet been made. Joseph Falzon, a co-owner of The Associated, confirmed this when we called although he added he wasn’t feeling confident that he’d get a renewal. He added that he was “99 percent sure” he wouldn’t.

Continue reading

Leases indicate plan to submeter, but management said language is nothing new

Susan Steinberg

ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg

By Sabina Mollot

Language in leases signed by Stuyvesant Town residents indicates that the owner has plans to submeter Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, which would make individual tenants responsible for paying for the electricity they use.

However, according to StuyTown Property Services, there is no plan to submeter the property any time soon.

The issue came up this week after a resident pointed out the language on Facebook and wondered if this meant Blackstone intended for file an application with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to have the property submetered.

In response, a property spokesperson, Marynia Kruk, told us, “The Facebook post (on the ST-PCV Tenants Association’s page) is accurate in that our current lease does have a clause about submetering or direct metering. However, this is not new language. New leases have contained the same language since 2009. Ownership has no current plan for submetering.”

Meanwhile, if Blackstone does eventually decide to submeter, it would be the second attempt by a Stuy Town owner to pass on the costs to renters. Tishman Speyer had planned to do this but then abruptly dropped the project upon losing the Roberts v. Tishman Speyer lawsuit at the Appellate Court level.

Continue reading

Editorial: When affordable housing is a prize

Last week, Blackstone reopened its lottery for reduced rent apartments in Stuyvesant Town, an announcement that was welcome news to the rent burdened but still raised the inevitable question of whether a discount of a few hundred bucks on rents that would otherwise start at over three thousand is truly affordable.

The answer is of course it is not, and it’s still hard to grasp — at least to us — how things got to the point where in order to get an affordable place to live in New York, one literally has to win a lottery. It feels a bit like a dystopian cautionary tale of what could happen when a wealthy politician, untouched by the people’s concerns about the need for affordable living, prefers to simply let the market do its thing. Oh, wait… that actually happened.

Fast forward to the present. Mayor Bill de Blasio has been quick to tout the affordable housing he’s built and preserved, as he promised to do on the campaign trail, but again, the Devil’s in the details. In the case of Stuyvesant Town, the 5,000 units committed to so-called affordability (which start at $2,800 for one-bedrooms) only become available as each rent-stabilized unit turns over. Additionally, half of those units, once vacated due to a tenant moving out or dying, will become market rate. So income eligible market rate residents and others hoping for at least some relief may be in for a very long wait. Note: We don’t blame Blackstone for this 50/50 arrangement, which seems fair, or for reopening the lottery, which as we also reported last week, prompted a few hopeful people we spoke with to try their luck.

Continue reading

Stuy Town apartment lottery reopening

feb9-screenshot

The lottery website, stuytownlottery.com, is live.

By Sabina Mollot

The lottery for below-market apartments in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village is reopening.

On Monday, Blackstone announced that those who missed out the first time could try again during a one-month window.

This reopening is specifically for applicants in the higher-income bracket for one and two-bedroom apartments since those are the unit sizes that are most common throughout the property. However, the original waiting list is still active for unit types not included in the current lottery as well as one and two-bedrooms.

Continue reading

Editorial: Squirrels: To feed or not to feed?

We definitely don’t recommend doing this. (Illustration by Sabina Mollot)

We definitely don’t recommend doing this. (Illustration by Sabina Mollot)

In mid-July, Town & Village published a story detailing recent complaints made by three parents on a neighborhood Facebook group, claiming that their children had been bitten by squirrels in Stuyvesant Town. While the squirrels in the complex are known for being overly-friendly, this was the first time we’d heard of a child getting bitten by one, let alone three. So we asked around for more opinions, which, as usual, were mixed, though most people we interviewed seemed to agree the resident squirrels were aggressive in their begging habits.

Well, as anyone who reads this paper knows, that coverage didn’t go over too well with the community’s squirrel lovers, who interpreted the parents’ concern as hatred toward the fluffy tailed critters in letters we published. In addition, this newspaper was blasted as being irresponsible. “Malicious,” “slander” and “perverse” were some of the words used to describe the article, written by Town & Village editor Sabina Mollot. Our publisher, Chris Hagedorn, even got a call from a woman who threatened to boycott every business that advertises within our pages for our treatment of the local Eastern Grey population.

Continue reading

Thank you – Over 250 toys donated to T&V drive

Gifts donated to Mount Sinai Beth Israel (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Gifts donated to Mount Sinai Beth Israel (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Readers of Town & Village have once again made the holidays a little brighter for children stuck in hospital rooms as well as the families utilizing the outpatient clinics run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel by donating over 250 toys to this newspaper’s annual drive.

Gifts for kids of all ages were donated this year, from board games to books to stuffed animals to arts and crafts supplies to games sure to cheer any fan of Star Wars.

Town & Village’s partners on this longstanding community tradition are Blackstone/Stuy Town Property Services, the management of Waterside Plaza and M&T Bank on First Avenue and 23rd Street, who all provided convenient toy dropoff sites.

Bonnie Robbins, PhD, coordinator of children and family services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, has said in recent years the hospital has faced some difficulty in getting enough toys to meet the needs of patients. This is due to the economy as well as other factors like drives for larger organizations competing for the support of individuals as well as toy retailers.

The hospital’s clinics are located throughout the city with three in the Kips Bay/Gramercy area, and for many patient families, parents often have to choose between clothes for their children or toys.

Fortunately, the turnout of this year’s drive, Robbins said, will be a big help.

“We are enormously proud and grateful to be a part of this supportive, generous community,” said Robbins. “Once again residents and businesses have opened their hearts to our children. This very successful toy drive helps us to provide a happy holiday to our kids and families, and it would not be possible without the support of our fabulous neighbors.”

The staff of Town & Village would also like to say thank you and happy holidays to our readers, SPS, Waterside and M&T Bank.

Letters to the Editor, Dec. 1

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Why I’m grateful this holiday season

I thought it would be appropriate, given the time of year, to express some gratitude and optimism during these discordant times. The Stuy Town/Peter Cooper community has been through a lot and now our country, too, is facing some tough times.

As I take inventory of areas for thanks, I choose to look locally and at our great and diverse community.  We have to be ever mindful that our ST/PCV community is actually a small and complex city, with unforeseen challenges.

I am grateful that we have finally achieved some real stability in Blackstone as our still-newish owner and for their important choice to have key staff living among us, sharing our quality of life.  I am grateful for management’s clear voice and steady hand thus far. Grateful for their choice to keep long-serving staff like Bill M. and Fred K., who keep us safe and to Kathleen K. and Tom F. who keep us warm and our homes and buildings functional. For Rick H. and the new members of his team who are making real efforts to care for our community.

Continue reading

ST-PCV Tenants Association to fight video intercom MCI

By Sabina Mollot

The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association is seeking neighbors’ help in an effort to challenge the recently announced video intercom MCI.

The major capital improvement rent increase, if approved, will impact the following Peter Cooper Village buildings: 420 and 440 East 23rd Street, 350, 360, 360 and 390 First Avenue, 2 and 3 Peter Cooper Road and 431 and 441 East 20th Street.

Susan Steinberg

ST-PCV Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Susan Steinberg, president of the Tenants Association, said this particular MCI, one of four on the horizon, is expected to cost tenants $2.13-$2.50 per room per month.

At a meeting last month, Steinberg said the four MCIs would be challenged for different reasons, including issues with paperwork.

Continue reading

Weather monitor installed in Stuy Town to keep grounds from getting over-watered

outside-455-e-14

The arrival of the new gadget is part of the owner’s effort to make the property more environmentally friendly. (Photo by Jonathan Wells)

 

In an effort to save water and prevent the grounds from being overwatered, StuyTown Property Services has recently installed a weather monitor in the complex. The solar-powered gadget, which appeared over the weekend outside a building on the East 14th Street Loop, 455, collects weather information, which then determines what irrigation levels for the landscaping need to be based on real time data.

In a press release, management cheered the arrival of the ET-300-W weather station, calling it “a smart piece of environmental technology.

“This new weather station will allow the StuyTown Grounds & Landscaping Department to ensure precise watering of our 80 acres of soil, based on the specific environmental factors and weather conditions of our property using solar cells to power the apparatus and transmit data to a nearby wireless controller.”

It measures data through a “Tipping Rain Bucket” component which records effective onsite rain fall. It can also collect data to estimate how much moisture (in the form of irrigation run times) needs to be replenished from the previous day’s evaporation.

SPS said the new piece of technology will save “a significant amount of water,” which is part of the company’s mission to make Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper “the most environmentally-friendly multifamily property in New York City.”

CompassRock closes up shop

CompassRock CEO David Sorise

CompassRock CEO David Sorise

By Sabina Mollot

The company set up to manage Stuyvesant Town after it fell into receivership has closed.

CompassRock was originally founded by special servicer CWCapital in 2012 to manage multifamily properties around the country.

However, its two biggest jobs were at the 11,200-plus-unit Stuy Town, and at Riverton Houses in Harlem, where it managed 1,229 apartments.

In January this year, CompassRock lost its contract at Riverton when CWCapital sold the property to A&E.  Then in April, the firm got the boot from Stuy Town when new owner Blackstone replaced it with its own subsidiary company, StuyTown Property Services.

CWCapital declined to comment on the current status of CompassRock, whose website has been down for months. Phone numbers listed for the company had no option to leave a message.

Continue reading

Four new MCIs pending for ST/PCV

Blackstone representative Nadeem Meghji, pictured at a meeting last October, tells ST-PCV tenants the owner will not use MCIs as a tool to inflate rents. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Blackstone representative Nadeem Meghji, pictured at a meeting last October, tells ST-PCV tenants the owner will not use MCIs as a tool to inflate rents. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

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.

Continue reading

Stuy Town flea market will return on October 1

Oct9 flea market

Stuyvesant Town’s flea market

By Sabina Mollot

In May, Stuyvesant Town general manager Rick Hayduk said the community’s flea market, last held over a decade ago, would return, though in a much more limited fashion out of fear of bedbugs.

Then on Thursday, management announced that a date had been set — Saturday, October 1, though there won’t be a rain date due to the Jewish holidays throughout the month. The event will run from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Residents were told, via email, that if they want to participate as a vendor, the first 450 residents who apply by emailing fleamarket@stuytown.com will be notified of the details.

Those who do will be responsible for bringing their own tables and chairs and no non-resident vendors or professional dealers will be considered.

Vendors must inform StuyTown Property Services ahead of time of what they intend to sell, and risk getting their operation shut down if the items for sale don’t match those on the previously approved list. Vendor tables might even be inspected for bedbugs.

Continue reading

Are Stuy Town’s squirrels getting more aggressive?

July14 Squirrel cropped

Is this the face of a food snatcher/child biter? (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Residents weigh in after complaints of kids bitten

By Sabina Mollot

Anyone who lives in Stuyvesant Town or Peter Cooper Village — or even anyone who has ever strolled through the grounds once — is well aware of one thing. The property is overrun by a population of the world’s best fed squirrels. Despite the various landlords’ feelings on the matter, many residents have, for decades enjoyed feeding the squirrels, and they in turn have been known to get up close and personal with anyone that might be willing to do so.

Earlier this summer, when a child was bitten by a squirrel in Stuy Town, the complex’s general manager, Rick Hayduk reminded residents in a May newsletter that squirrel feeding is discouraged.

But earlier this month, a Stuyvesant Town mom took to a community Facebook page to warn neighbors that she’d heard of two additional incidents of children getting bitten, and that the local squirrel population appeared to be getting even more aggressive.

The resident, Carolyn Hurley, later told Town & Village, “It’s seriously becoming a problem.”

Partially, she said it has to do with people hand feeding the squirrels nuts and other treats. “So they’re not afraid of people. And the crazy squirrel people say they don’t know the difference between a finger and a peanut. If they don’t know the difference between a finger and a peanut, why would you feed them a peanut from your finger? There’s a difference between throwing them a handful of food and getting them to touch your hand.”

Continue reading

Pooch attacked by another dog in Stuy Town

July14 Siddharth and Lorca

Siddharth Dube and Lorca in Stuyvesant Town earlier this week (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

Just two weeks ago, Siddharth Dube didn’t know if his dog was going to survive the surgery he needed after being bitten by another dog. Dube’s dog, a Portuguese water dog, was nearly 14 years old and already had spinal problems, like inflamed discs, prior to being bitten on his upper leg, close to his back as he was being walked in Stuyvesant Town. But after the surgery and six days of recovery at the vet’s office, Dube was told his pet, Lorca, was stable, and could be taken home.

Fortunately, Lorca’s once again able to walk, and this week Dube told Town & Village he is hoping not just for the other dog owner to pay the vet bill, which totaled $6,500, but for Stuy Town management to start some sort of public database of dog bites. The database, he said, could include information like the breed of any dog that bites another.

According to Dube, he’d been walking Lorca on the morning of Monday, June 27 past 19/21 Stuyvesant Oval, when the dog stopped to relieve itself. At the same time another dog owner walked by, a young blonde woman who also had her baby with her in a carriage. “I smiled at her, she smiled at me,” Dube recalled. He was on the phone at the time but quickly turned around when he heard Lorca cry out in pain behind him. “He screamed in agony; it was the worst sound I ever heard,” said Dube.

Continue reading