CW Capital officially owner of ST/PCV

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

CW Capital formally took ownership of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in a move to prevent a “mysterious investor” from taking control of the property, the New York Times reported yesterday.

The paper noted that an unidentified company notified the loan servicer that has controlled Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village since 2010 that it would be exercising its right to buy a key loan on the property. As CW assumed this was the first step in the unknown company’s attempt to seize control of the complex and force bankruptcy, after which a new owner would then try to buy the property for a low price, the company moved to file the deed on Tuesday and finalized the deal in court on Thursday. As a result of the deal, CW Capital paid $117 million in taxes to the city and $19.8 million to the state.

In an official statement, CWCapital confirmed it had acquired title to Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village on Tuesday through a deed in lieu of a foreclosure, canceling the auction that was planned for June 13.

“CWCapital Asset Management (CWCAM) determined this action to be in the best interest of the certificate holders and provided the greatest stability for the community,” the company said. “This ‘deed-in-lieu’ will have no impact on residents or on property operations. CWCAM has previously said that it would begin to evaluate disposition alternatives in the latter half of 2014.  That estimate has not changed.”

Although the identity of the company is unknown, the Wall Street Journal noted that the Government of Singapore’s real estate investment arm, GIC, has held a part of the mezzanine debt for years and it would have been possible for more junior holders of the debt to make a move to control the property by buying the piece owned by CWCapital, which controlled the senior most portion of the debt. It is not clear if GIC still owns that piece of the debt.

City Council Member and Peter Cooper resident Dan Garodnick said he’s optimistic about the foreclosure’s cancellation.

“This eliminates the circus that could have unfolded at a mezzanine foreclosure sale,” he said. “It is the right next step that will give time for a more considered process that can protect not only the bondholders, but also the tenants and the city.”

As T&V reported on June 5, Garodnick and other local elected officials are drafting emergency housing legislation that will be introduced at the city and state level. The legislation was mentioned in an email from the ST-PCV Tenants Association sent on Tuesday as a response to the expected foreclosure, although the council member declined to discuss details. Since the news of CW’s court action, Garodnick said he still expects to move forward with the legislation.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who is working with Garodnick on the legislation in addition to Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, was also hopeful that the city would protect affordability in Stuyvesant Town.

“The 25,000 resident population of Stuy Town-Peter Cooper is larger than many cities in New York,” Senator Hoylman said. “Imagine the response if, say, Kingston or Glens Falls or were being sold off to real estate investors! We can’t make the same mistake twice by sitting idly by as thousands of homes are being sold out from under middle-class tenants. I’m encouraged by the City Administration’s stated goal  of ‘using every tool at its disposal’ on a solution that protects affordability at Stuy Town-Peter Cooper. This is a critical test of our will and ability to change direction and make preservation of affordable housing a priority.”

Although the auction for next Friday has been cancelled, the ST-PCV Tenants Association is still planning to hold a rally in front of City Hall that day because they are continuing to fight to acquire the property with Brookfield Asset Management.

“A tenant-led purchase is the only defense against a predatory equity takeover,” the TA said in an email blast to neighbors on Thursday after the news broke that CW Capital had taken ownership of the site. “We could be sold to the highest bidder or even to CW’s parent company, Fortress Investment Group. That’s why our rally for June 13 is as important as ever.”

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Pols planning housing ‘emergency legislation’

Council Member Dan Garodnick (second to left) with Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman pictured at a January meeting of the ST-PCV Tenants Association meeting, with (far left0 TA attorney Tim Collins

Council Member Dan Garodnick (second to left) with Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman pictured at a January meeting of the ST-PCV Tenants Association meeting, with (far left) TA attorney Tim Collins (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

UPDATE: Since this story ran in the June 5 issue of Town & Village, CWCapital moved to formally take ownership of ST/PCV, a story in the New York Times reported. According to Council Member Dan Garodnick, he still expects to move ahead with the emergency legislation.

By Sabina Mollot
In response to the upcoming foreclosure sale of some of the Stuyvesant Town debt, local elected officials are drafting emergency legislation to help protect the stability of the community and others like it.
However, it’s unclear what that legislation would do or if it would impact the foreclosure process in any way.
The legislation was mention in an email sent by the ST-PCV Tenants Association to neighbors on Tuesday afternoon, in response to being asked what the association was doing about the foreclosure.
Along with scheduling a rally on the day of the sale, Friday, June 13 at 10 a.m., in front of City Hall, the email mentioned that the TA had approached the mayor as well as the attorney general to ask for help. Additionally, the TA noted, “State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, and Councilman Garodnick are working on an emergency package of legislation to be introduced at both the city and state level to help protect the long-term stability of communities such as ours.”
When asked for details on the legislation, Garodnick said he couldn’t provide any yet.
However, he said, “We are contemplating a variety of options. Hopefully we’ll have more soon. I can’t say much more than that at the moment.”
He also said that he’d been in touch with the mayor’s office about the impending foreclosure. “My sense is that they are looking at ways to be helpful,” Garodnick said.
The mayor’s office hasn’t responded to T&V’s numerous requests for comment on the subject of the Stuyvesant Town foreclosure.
Last week, Garodnick announced the formation of the Coalition Against Predatory Equity, which is aimed at keeping affordable housing from turning into overleveraged housing.
Garodnick, who’s also an attorney, added that the only parties with the power to stop or delay the foreclosure are those “in the capital stack.”
The TA said in the Tuesday email it wasn’t sure if one of the debt holders would attempt to stall the process or if CWCapital would attempt to continue to shut the TA out of the process. CW has still declined to talk business about the TA’s hope for a condo conversion plan. The company has also declined to discuss a bid reportedly being prepared by its parent company Fortress, of $4.7 billion.
“Ultimately, we can control only what we can control,” the TA said. “But we can continue to make sure our voices are heard and try in a thoughtful, aggressive, substantive way to affect what happens when CW forecloses — not just for ourselves but for those who aspire to live here in the future.”
The Tenants Association, along with asking tenants to show up for the rally, is seeking volunteers to flier buildings.
The TA is also offering bus rides to City Hall. Those who want to reserve a seat are asked to register online.

Letters to the editor, May 29

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Time to stand up against predatory equity

On Friday, June 13, after CWCapital forecloses on the mezzanine (junior) debt for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, there is a very real threat that Fortress, the parent company of CWCapital, could use a questionable contract clause to instantly become the owner of our two complexes.

What happens on that day will affect us all. It could be Tishman Speyer redux. The financial press is speculating, full of scenarios providing detailed financial road maps to our demise.

Fortress is seeking to bid $4.7 billion for a property valued at $3.2 billion. Possibly adding nearly 50 percent more debt to the property in ​yet another overleveraged buyout will lead to problems for every one of us. These problems will assuredly be worse than what we have faced since 2006.

A show of our strength starts at 10 a.m. on June 13, when members of our community will assemble at City Hall to demonstrate our backing of the elected representatives who right now are working to try to save us from a predatory takeover. Let’s show Mayor de Blasio that we are a community worth saving, and show the hedge funds and real estate moguls that we are a community to be reckoned with. It’s worth making a serious effort to swell the group that will be bused to City Hall and back.
The two core groups that make up our community must stay united.

The first group — the young families and responsible singles and couples — I like to call the “New Stabilizers.”

The New Stabilizers have held on, many by their fingernails, so they can convert their high rents into more affordable long-term equity as apartment owners. Members of this group are the most vulnerable to losing their homes via exorbitant rent increases. The point will come when large numbers of New Stabilizers will be driven from a community that has suited their needs. More instability for everyone.

It’s heartbreaking that New Stabilizers will have to uproot their children from our fantastic local schools that I and others here got the opportunity to go to. These parents will have the painful task of explaining to their kids why they have to make new friends as they are forced to find another home. For this group, a takeover by anyone other than the tenants is their tipping point.

The second group — long-term traditionally rent-stabilized tenants — has a target on their backs too. They’re not as easy to hit, but a predatory owner will try, using the same tactics so ferociously applied by Tishman Speyer to challenge the legality of tenants’ stabilized status. Demolition of buildings is also a possible — and perfectly lawful — means for eviction. Tearing down our aging structures and “developing” our green spaces with shiny new towers is one sure way to pay down the debt.

For all of us, a tenant-led purchase is the only defense against a new predatory landlord. If you’re a long-term rent-stabilized tenant, you’ll be able to stay in your home and enjoy the same rent-stabilized protections you’ve always had with neighbors as your owners rather than hedge funds or dynastic New York real estate families.

For all of us, a new predatory landlord means more bad leasing policies that expand the number of “converted” apartments, which create higher concentrations of roommates in dorm-like occupancy, accompanied by more of the inevitable noise and bad neighbor behavior.

Churn, transients and predatory speculation are the problems. The answers are the young stabilizing families and responsible couples and singles vesting in their community and standing shoulder to shoulder with their longer-term neighbors who may wish to remain as renters living peacefully in their homes.

We all share the desire for our children and our neighbors’ children to grow up in the same safe, unique, extraordinary city setting many longer-term tenants have had. We need to carry on that tradition.

If ever there was a time to be vocal and visible, that time is now. If we just accept what might happen on June 13, we and our children will have to face the consequences.

Don’t let Friday, June 13, be the final chapter. Join us and fill the steps of City Hall to show the world we are organized and that we are a community, not a commodity. For more information about the rally and to RSVP for transportation, visit http://stpcvta.org/june13 or call (866) 290-9036.

John H. Marsh III,
President,
Stuyvesant Town-
Peter Cooper Village
Tenants Association​

Answers on local effects of climate change

To the Editor:

I’d like to bring to the attention of our neighbors who were affected by Hurricane Sandy but who may still be questioning whether climate change is happening due to human continued use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas (methane) that the Sierra Club has some answers.

Their monthly meetings take place in the Seafarers & International House located at 123 East 15th Street on the northeast corner of Irving Place on the third Wednesday of the month. On May 21, I attended the third in their sustainability series called “Photovoltaics.” To my surprise and delight the first speaker was Chris Neidl recently back from India and at work again with Solar One. Chris was followed by Marlene Brown from the New Mexico Department of Energy. Both speakers answered many questions from the packed audience about solar energy for New York City.

Many of us remember how when Hurricane Sandy hit, the Solar One building in Stuyvesant Cove Park was the only place in our neighborhood that had electricity due to solar energy stored in its generator and people were coming to power their cell phones and medical apparatus. Solar One staff and volunteers brought solar panels and apparatus to the hard hit areas of the Rockaways and other coastal areas of NYC to help out.

On Wednesday, June 11, Solar One will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a boat trip from the East 23rd Street pier at 6 p.m. followed by a picnic supper and dancing under a big tent at the Cove until 10 p.m.  For more information and other events go to http://www.solar1.org.

The last in the Sierra Club Spring series takes place on Wednesday, June 18 on President Obama’s climate action plan with the Judith Enck, Head of Region 2 EPA (NY, NJ and Puerto Rico) as the speaker. There have been many ideas suggested for how hard hit coastal areas like ours can be protected from future storms. This would be a good time to ask our questions and hopefully get some answers. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for socializing and refreshments. Programs start at 7 p.m. $10 suggested donation; $3 for students.

Who knows? Maybe it’s a dream, but perhaps sometime in the future Stuyvesant Town could become an Eco Village and resilient.

Joy Garland, ST