Letters to the editor, Oct. 3

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

TA: Stand up to Blackstone

Re: “Blackstone not required to provide polling places,” T&V, Sept. 26

“Name withheld” writes that Blackstone doesn’t have an obligation to provide polling sites. This is incorrect.

In 1946, a vibrant neighborhood with streets, schools and polling places was seized under eminent domain and turned over to Metropolitan Life, and became Stuyvesant Town.

In return, Met Life promised to maintain municipal streets, remove garbage, and provide places for citizens to vote. The Tenants Association needs to stand up to our property owner to ensure that Blackstone honors these obligations. Bring back the polling sites!

Name withheld

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Letters to the editor, Sept. 26

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Blackstone not required to provide polling places

To the editor:

Although I am disappointed that some voters will have to cross 14th Street to vote, we must remember that Stuyvesant Town management is not at all obligated to provide space for voting. Voting is a right but one that a landlord is not required to facilitate. Should the government seek to compel management to provide the space, the Fifth Amendment would require that “just compensation be provided.”

Name withheld

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Associated closing in Stuyvesant Town

Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town on East 14th Street will likely be closing by the end of this year, StuyTown general manager Rick Hayduk announced in an email to residents last Friday afternoon.

Hayduk noted in the message that management has been working with the store in an attempt to keep the market open through the holiday season, including by offering free rent, but the store reportedly still would not be able to guarantee that it could stay open through the end of the year.

The owners told management that the competitive environment for supermarkets, both locally and due to online ordering, led them to the decision to close.

Norman Quintanilla, who has been the manager at the store for the last 16 years, told Town & Village on Tuesday that they have notified employees that the last day would be December 10, but the store will likely end up closing by the end of November.

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Blackstone will rent out all vacant units in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Councilmember Dan Garodnick and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer along with Tenants Association members during a 2015 press conference to announce Blackstone’s purchase of Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The owner of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, has confirmed it will not purposely keep rent-regulated apartments vacant following criticism from local elected officials after reports that the company was doing so, Gothamist reported last Friday.

The position was a shift from earlier last week when the owner, Blackstone, would not commit to leasing all the regulated units, a strategy often referred to as “warehousing.” Gothamist also noted that the promise came after Mayor Bill de Blasio said that city officials would need to have “some serious conversations” with the company about the agreement it signed to keep the units affordable.

“We are renovating and leasing all vacant units, and we will continue to fulfill our commitment to voluntarily preserve 5,000 affordable apartments,” Blackstone spokesperson Jennifer Friedman told Town & Village, although she added that the company will still have to make “difficult choices” and “scale back certain investments” in light of the recent legislation.

Blackstone is now actively renting out all vacant units, although the company has spent the last several weeks working through how to conduct renovations, especially in recently-vacated apartments that have been occupied for decades.

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Letter to the editor, Aug. 15

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Pulling back the curtain on Blackstone

Dear editor,

I am simply sickened to learn that Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone, the company that bought Stuyvesant Town, is a large donor of Trump. This simply sickens me, yet there is nothing I can do about it, short of moving!

Tenants must understand that Schwarzman, by his donations, makes it possible to witness the philosophy of ugliness in having an incompetent person sit in the White House, and by association, share the same philosophy of caging children, targeting immigrants and others, and encouraging the chants of “lock her up” and “send her back.” It is the same philosophy of believing white supremacists have good people on both sides. The curtain has been pulled back allowing a clear look at who owns and runs this development.

Now, we know more today and must never forget who supports the man with the vile tongue.

Name withheld
Stuyvesant Town

Powers concerned about Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town being marketed separately

Apr18 Leasing office 2 closeup

A new leasing office is under construction in Peter Cooper Village. (Photo by Thomas Rochford)

By Sabina Mollot

In response to the latest branding efforts by StuyTown Property Services, which have included new logos for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village and a new leasing office now being built in Peter Cooper, some residents have been worried this was an attempt to treat the two complexes differently.

Council Member Keith Powers, who said he’d been hearing from neighbors on this issue, sent a letter to ST/PCV general manager Hayduk last Wednesday, asking him to clarify that the branding wouldn’t mean Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village would no longer have access to the same amenities.

Powers also asked if apartments in both complexes would still be available through the lottery system for reduced rents. He also wanted to know if all the marketing would mean existing tenants should now expect diminished benefits and if management planned to reduce staff levels at either complex. Powers also had a question on apartment finishes, asking if Stuyvesant Town apartments would end up looking different from those in Peter Cooper.

“As a lifelong resident who has lived in both Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, I am concerned that current plans are to put the two properties on a separate path in the short-term and long-term,” Powers wrote.

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New leasing office for Peter Cooper Village under construction

A new leasing office is under construction in Peter Cooper Village. (Photos by Thomas Rochford)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this week, residents noticed that a new leasing office was being advertised in Peter Cooper Village in the corner space previously occupied by the Petite Abeille restaurant. The slick-looking posters show smiling individuals of various ages, and the property’s very new logo for Peter Cooper.

Asked about the advertisements, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village general manager Rick Hayduk confirmed there is a new leasing office under construction just for Peter Cooper, but it will be housed in the neighboring 350 First Avenue. This is where another leasing office, primarily a center for brokers’ use, used to be until closing last year. The new leasing office was briefly mentioned in an e-blast to neighbors last week that also mentioned the Stuyvesant Town leasing office would be getting “a refresh,” as would signage and employee uniforms.

“Since our acquisition in late 2015, StuyTown Property Services’ and Beam Living’s focused attention has been on improving a resident’s experience (resident communication, situational response time, exterior aesthetics, quality of life issues, playgrounds, etc.), and we felt it was time to reset the ‘public’ image of the two communities,” Hayduk said in a written statement. Continue reading

Man charged with shooting guard at Target

Kips Bay Court (Photo via Google Maps)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested 25-year-old Christian Vargas after he allegedly shot a security guard in Kips Bay and later returned to the scene of the crime.

Police said that shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 10, Vargas kicked and attempted to pry open the front door entrance of a Target store that is under construction in Kips Bay Court at 520 Second Avenue where the victim was stationed.

Vargas allegedly spat on the guard and began grappling with him and in the course of the struggle, the victim’s 9mm pistol fell to the ground. Vargas allegedly grabbed the gun and shot at the guard, hitting him three times.

According to the New York Post, Vargas was arrested at the scene later that morning because he had dropped his wallet and keys during the incident and returned to retrieve them around 7 a.m.

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Stuyvesant Town apartment lottery reopens

Stuyvesant Town

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town’s apartment lottery has reopened on Tuesday for renters in the upper income tier of eligibility. Based on the affordability deal between the owners Blackstone and Ivanhoe Cambridge and the city in 2015, half of the apartments that become available are put into a lottery system for reduced rents. Ninety percent of those units are for tenants earning a household income of up to 165 percent of the area median income while the other 10 percent are for those earning up to 80 percent of the AMI.

According to an email sent out by Stuy Town management on Tuesday, this amounts to rent for a one-bedroom apartment going for $2,975 for households of one to three people earning incomes starting at $89,250. The maximum income for three people is $154,935, the maximum income for two people is $137,775 and for one person the maximum income is $120,615.

The savings from average market rent, $3,587, is 17 percent, according to the lottery website. Market rate one-bedroom apartments in Stuy Town range from $3,273-$3,675, based on current listings. Peter Cooper one-bedrooms range from $3,717-$4,046, according to listings. There are also converted or “flex” apartments, which are usually higher in price.

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Effort underway to make apt. renovations less noisy and dusty

Worker doing dustless masonry cutting through an air conditioner opening (Photos courtesy of Empire Core)

By Sabina Mollot

At Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, about 275 apartments are gut renovated each year, with 35-70 going on at any given time, depending on the season.

While this can boost the value of the property for the owner, for residents of adjoining apartments, the apartment transformations just mean weeks of ongoing noise from power tools and dust clouds that permeate the air.

Fortunately, Empire Core Group, the company that oversees the gut renovation of apartments in ST/PCV, done by contractors, has, within the past year primarily, begun using new tools aimed at reducing both the noise and dust levels as well as the time needed to complete the jobs.

Rick Hayduk, Stuyvesant Town’s general manager, said the effort came as a result of management getting bombarded with calls by residents who live in apartments near those being worked on.

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ST/PCV apartment lottery reopening

ST buildings

By Sabina Mollot

The last time the Stuyvesant Town apartment lottery opened was in January, with slots only being made available for applicants in the upper tier of income levels, meaning those who earn a maximum of 165 percent of the area median income. As part of owner Blackstone’s deal with the city in 2015, as apartments have become available in the complex, half become market rate while the other half become available to lottery tenants. Of the lottery apartments, 90 percent of them go to tenants earning up to 165 percent of the AMI, the other 10 percent going to those earning a maximum of 80 percent of the AMI.

However, the lottery is once again reopening, and this time, applicants in both income tiers are eligible to apply for apartments, which are available in a variety of sizes in Stuy Town as well as Peter Cooper Village. The deadline to apply is October 11 and applications can be done online at stuytownlottery.com. To request an application by mail, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village Wait List, Peter Stuyvesant Station, P.O. Box 1287, New York, NY, 10009.

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To feed or not to feed the squirrels

That is one of the questions asked by SPS after another child gets attacked by squirrel in Stuy Town

A squirrel forages for food in a garbage can in this photo taken last year. (Photo by Brian P. Loesch)

By Sabina Mollot

This one’s a hard nut to crack.

After yet another child was injured by a squirrel in Stuyvesant Town (in this case scratched), Blackstone is asking for residents’ thoughts on what to do with the property’s unofficial mascots.

Nearly a year ago, a child was scratched in the face while playing in a Stuy Town playground, and in the more recent incident, another child was scratched. Two summers ago, three different mothers reported that their children were bitten by squirrels. According to Rick Hayduk, general manager of Stuyvesant Town and CEO of StuyTown Property Services, there was another scratch incident this year in April as well.

In the most recent incident, about two weeks ago, Hayduk said the child was behind a playset at Playground 8 near First Avenue, also known as the train playground, when it happened. While the area where the young resident was at the time isn’t seen by a security camera, both parents later told Hayduk that a squirrel had been looking for food inside the child’s stroller. Upon seeing the stroller’s owner, the squirrel jumped out, clawing the child in its bid for freedom. Hayduk said he doesn’t know the child’s gender or where he or she was scratched, but does know that the child was promptly whisked off to a doctor. Asked if the injury was serious, Hayduk indicated he didn’t think it was appropriate to decide if it was or wasn’t, adding, “I don’t want to understate it.”

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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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Editorial: A pilot program in preservation

The city was quick to slam an independent report that said the affordability preserved in the property’s most recent sale was exaggerated (although this was without disputing the actual figures cited by the Independent Budget Office).

Measuring affordability through years rather than apartments, the IBO has calculated that the majority of apartments would have remained affordable even without a deal that cost the city $220 million.

Just whether or not the city got what it paid for remains to be seen, as is how stable the community will remain over the years with a combination of market rents, true stabilized rents and upper and lower lottery tier rents.

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Watchdog says affordability preserved through Stuy Town deal was exaggerated

de Blasio talking

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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