Third round of ‘Roberts’ checks may be on the way

ST buildingsBy Sabina Mollot

Last October, residents of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village who were represented in the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” class action lawsuit saw a second wave of payouts from the initial $68.75 million pool.

Now it’s likely that there will be a third round of checks, according to Michael Liskow, who’s one of the attorneys representing tenants from the firm Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz.

As a condition of the second payout, if there was more than $100,000 left after a deadline for checks to be deposited passed, then there would be another distribution. If there was less than $100,000 left, then the remaining funds would be split among two local nonprofits, the ST-PCV Tenants Association and the Peter Stuyvesant Little League.

The 120-day deadline has already passed for most of the recipients but attorneys won’t know the exact amount that’s left in the pool until around March 15. This is when the deadline will have passed for all eligible class suit members. However, as of this week, there was over $150,000 left, Liskow said.

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More ‘Roberts’ money on the way for some Stuy Town residents

garodnick

Council Member Dan Garodnick discusses the payouts. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot 

Nearly 2,000 residents of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village who were part of the “Roberts vs. Tishman Speyer” lawsuit, which proved apartments were illegally deregulated, will soon see another round of checks.

Attorneys on the case said there was about $450,000 left in unclaimed damages from the suit, which in 2013 resulted in a $173 million settlement for tenants ($68.75 million of that amount being cash and the rest in rent reductions).

On Saturday, the checks were discussed by City Council Member Dan Garodnick at a meeting of the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

Garodnick, who’s a resident of Peter Cooper Village, told neighbors that in order to be eligible for the money, the class action suit’s plaintiffs would have had to file as current, not former, tenants, and have received more than the minimum payout, which was $150. They also would have had to deposit their original check.

In this case, “The checks should be coming in the next few weeks,” he said. Residents will then have 120 days to deposit the money. After that, any unclaimed money, if less than $100,000, will be split evenly between two local nonprofits: the ST-PCV Tenants Association and the Peter Stuyvesant Little League.

According to Garodnick, there are 1,973 people who are eligible for the payout, which would make the average check around $228. This time, no one has to file any paperwork to get their damages.

“This was a big tenant win for our community and for the city,” said Garodnick, who was a member of the “Roberts” class action suit. “I am glad that those who were harmed continue to see compensation.”

Lawyers for tenants said there were over 27,000 tenants and former tenants who were awarded damages from former landlords Tishman Speyer and Met Life. The damages were 100 percent of what the tenants overpaid based on calculations from a very complicated settlement formula, minus 30 percent for legal fees and other fees.

New GM promises improved service and more accessibility

Rick Hayduk (right), the new general manager of ST/PCV, speaks with tenants at a meet-and-greet event on Saturday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Rick Hayduk (right), the new general manager of ST/PCV, speaks with tenants at a meet-and-greet event on Saturday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The new general manager of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper, Rick Hayduk, has promised tenants that Blackstone is focused on improving services and communication and in particular, said the hiring of four new plumbers should end the two to three week wait times tenants have been experiencing for repairs.

Hayduk made the comments on Saturday at a meet and greet event that was held at the tents at Stuyvesant Town’s Playground 11.

Around 150 people, mainly seniors and other longterm tenants, attended the event, as did a couple of elected officials, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Council Member Dan Garodnick.

Rick Hayduk speaks at Saturday’s event.

Rick Hayduk speaks at Saturday’s event.

While at a podium in front of a Stuy Town logo-covered step-and-repeat, Hayduk discussed various tenant concerns, including the recent spike in plumbing repair delays. “Our standard is two to three days and that’s what you should expect,” he said.
Hayduk also said that a hotline for tenants that Blackstone had set up after the company bought the property has been transferred to his office.

“Go through normal channels, but if (a request) needs to escalate, we’re here for that,” Hayduk said. The number is (212) 655-9870.

He also encouraged tenants to slip him notes, gesturing to his pocket while saying that several neighbors had already done so.

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This Week in T&V History

By Sabina Mollot

Town & Village newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village since 1947 and this week we took a look back to see what was going on in the community 50 years ago. Here are a few stories from the September 2, 1965 issue.

Plea for air conditioning
Despite being a holiday week, this time 50 years ago was actually a relatively busy one in Stuyvesant Town — not to mention hot. One front page story detailed a local politician’s plea to the owner, Met Life, to install some air conditioning. In a letter to a Met Life Vice President for Housing Raymond Ringler, State Assemblyman Paul J. Curran stated, “I realize that the last poll of Stuyvesant Town residents showed that only a small percentage were willing to pay for the extra installation and maintenance costs for air-conditioning. However, that survey took place many years ago and it would seem that a least a new survey is now warranted.” He added that he thought there must be a way to do this while not raising rents too much higher, like only installing at A.C. in certain buildings as Met had done at another property, Parkfairfax Houses in Virginia.

Congressman: Fill in and build housing on East River
A Brooklyn Congress member, Emmanuel Celler, said he expected Congressional action on a proposal to make a stretch of the East River from 17th to 30th Streets non-navigable in order to permit construction of housing, schools and shops. The housing would be for United Nations and Bellevue Hospital personnel as well as middle income residents, and the school on the site would be the proposed United Nations International School. While that portion of the river wasn’t used for navigation, it had been classified as navigable, Celler explained, which is what was keeping any developer from being able to obtain a title for the area. It would be up to Congress to declare it non-navigable, and up to New York Army engineers (headquartered at East 16th Street) to determine the plan’s feasibility before Congress did so.
William F. R. Ballard, the chairman of the City Planning Commission, said that some preliminary discussions had been held on the use of the proposed filled land and that several sponsors were already interested in developing the area, though it would be “premature” to name them.

Candidate Lindsay at opening of Sloan’s
A front page story covered the ribbon cutting at Sloan’s, a new supermarket at 20th Street and First Avenue. Pictured at a photo at the ceremony were a smiling Vincent Albano, a local GOP leader; Max Sloan, the president of the supermarket; and doing the actual ribbon cutting (the second of the day) was the community’s Congress member and Republican-Liberal candidate for mayor, John Lindsay. Controller Abraham Beame, also the Democratic candidate for mayor, conducted the first ribbon cutting of the day and gave out chocolates and lollipops to kids, which were supplied by the store. Lindsay and Beame missed each other by a few minutes. It was Lindsay, a former Stuy Town resident, who got the star treatment though, posing for pictures next to a display of canned Lindsay brand olives (no relation to the candidate) and signing autographs.

Resident accused of fraud
A Stuyvesant Town attorney was one of six men that had been charged with fraud in a federal case for allegedly using over $6,900,000 belonging to VTR, a tire and soft drinks franchise, for their own benefit. Joseph Saik, of 3 Stuyvesant Oval, an officer and attorney for VTR, was named in the civil action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC accused the men of switching funds without the approval of other directors of VTR, which had offices at 404 Fifth Avenue. The men then were accused of using the funds for various enterprises, including purchases in 1963 of a controlling interest Central National Bank in Jacksonville, Florida.

The holidays in Stuy Town throughout the years

Santa (Town & Village publisher Charles G. Hagedorn) arrives at the Oval where he took over 250 photos with kids in 1949. (Photo from T&V archives)

Santa (Town & Village publisher Charles G. Hagedorn) arrives at the Oval where he took over 250 photos with kids in 1949. (Photo from T&V archives)

By Sabina Mollot
While much of the talk about Stuyvesant Town these days is about how much the place has changed in recent years, one thing that’s managed to remain the same is the community’s celebration of Christmas and Hanukkah.
Putting up Christmas decorations and a nativity scene on the Oval along with an ornamented tree has been a tradition for decades. Another longstanding tradition has been having Santa take pictures with residents, from kids to seniors. It was in 1949 when Charles Hagedorn, the publisher of this newspaper, donned a Santa suit to hear the Christmas wishes of over 250 children in Stuy Town. The appearance was sponsored by the Town & Village Camera Club with proceeds from each photo taken going towards the Town & Village Polio Fund for the Willard Parker Hospital. (A total of $253 was raised.)
In the Stuy Town community, other traditions during Christmas time have included tree lighting ceremonies, caroling and the occasional concert. Hanukkah too has also been recognized, celebrated over the decades with menorah lightings led by a resident rabbi and activities for kids and families.

Letters to the editor, Sept. 25

Conversion would allow NYU tenants to buy

To the Editor,

A letter in your Sept. 18 edition says conversion of PCVST to condos can serve to end dormitory living here by NYU undergraduates. The opposite could happen. In a conversion, existing leaseholders have the right of first refusal to buy the apartments they are leasing.

If NYU holds leases on the apartments occupied by students, NYU would have the right to buy those apartments in a conversion.  Also, NYU would be able to buy any apartments not purchased by other leaseholders. NYU obviously needs student housing in this area. A conversion could result in an increase in the number of apartments occupied by undergraduate students.

There are efforts to keep, or make, PCVST affordable housing. That’s consistent with having undergraduate students as neighbors. Students need affordable housing. NYU undergraduates will disappear from PCVST when NYU builds more dormitories, or when rents rise to a level where the owner finds it more attractive to rent to someone other than students.

Another letter in the same issue wonders what happened to the concept of converting PCVST to condominiums. The beginning point of a conversion is either a purchase of PCVST by a new owner who will pursue conversion, or a decision by the present owner to do a conversion. If the property isn’t for sale, there can’t be a new owner.  So the basic question is: How likely is it that the existing owner will sell, or convert, the property?

PCVST was built and owned by MetLife as an income producing property, because MetLife wanted a reliable source of income. When MetLife sold the property, the largest source of financing for the buyer was first mortgage bonds purchased by large institutions. They bought those bonds, because they wanted a reliable source of income, and the bonds provided that.

When the owners of the bonds took over ownership of PCVST, they acquired a property that provides the reliable source of income they want. Ownership of PCVST meets their investment objective.

The amount of income the owners can earn from the property is limited by rent stabilization, until the low interest rate J-51 financing on the property matures in June 2020 (or earlier if the J-51 financing is prepaid).  Then apartments can move to market rents as provided by New York law. Thus, in six years the owners will be able to start increasing their rental income.

The owners are large, deep pocket, institutions.  For them, six years is a reasonable wait.

As the total rental income increases, the value of the PCVST will increase. The increase in rental income will occur gradually over a considerable number of years, and the property’s value will continue to rise during those years. At some point, the owners may want to cash out, either by sale or conversion. But right now the property is meeting the owners’ investment objectives, and future of the property is positive. It will be a lot of years before the present owners sell or convert.

Floyd Smith, PCV

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‘Roberts’ tenants on how settlement, court win impacted them

Jennifer Kops, pictured with daughter Kiki at a Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade in 2013, has moved within ST/PCV three times in four years. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Jennifer Kops, pictured with daughter Kiki at a Peter Stuyvesant Little League Parade in 2013, has moved within ST/PCV three times in four years. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Last week, residents and former residents of ST/PCV who were members of the “Roberts” class action finally received their long awaited damages checks.
As Town & Village first reported, over 5,000 of them received non-payment deductions and class members who were former residents were subject to retroactive MCI fees.
This week, T&V spoke with a few “Roberts” tenants to ask how the damages as well as the lawsuit itself, which led to lowered rents for many, changed their lives (or didn’t.)
Here’s what they had to say:

Jennifer Kops, a Stuyvesant Town mother of two who works as an administrative assistant, said she didn’t get anything in damages. She thought she’d be getting $434 but didn’t see a dime after legal fees, MCIs and nonpayment deductions. She grew up in Peter Cooper Village and after divorcing, returned over four years ago with children Jack and Kiki. In that time, she and her family have lived in two one-bedroom apartments in Peter Cooper and now a two-bedroom in Stuyvesant Town.
“We’re fine, but the suit didn’t do anything for me,” said Kops. She moved the last time since the upgrade to a two-bedroom was $3,350 a month, only $100 more than what she’d been paying at her last apartment. “Stuy Town is always a little cheaper,” she said.
Though making the rent has never been simple, “we wouldn’t want to leave,” Kops said.
Kops had been on the board of the Tenants Association for a few years, her kids are in the Peter Stuyvesant Little League and she is currently involved in the PTA at her daughter’s school, PS40. There she’s met other moms in similar situations to her own, tenants in Stuyvesant Town, who’ve turned living rooms into bedrooms with either pressurized walls or bookcases for their kids. This is what Kops had done in her last place, but found life in a one-bedroom too difficult.
“The kids are getting older and I needed more space myself. I don’t like sleeping in the living room.”
The new place is on the main floor and she often hears the conversations of the maintenance employees whose lounge is below her apartment, but that’s her only gripe.
“We hear their morning roll call and we can hear them yelling at each other,” said Kops, “but we overlook a garden area. It’s actually very quiet and peaceful.”

Maurice Owen-Michaane (right) and his husband Michael got a $13,000 payout.

Maurice Owen-Michaane (right) and his husband Michael got a $13,000 payout.

Former resident Maurice Owen-Michaane, who lived in Stuy Town for five years until September, 2012, said it wasn’t “Roberts” that changed things for him or his family, but other factors like constant construction that made him think the complex was going downhill and more importantly needing more space after having a baby.
So he moved to Washington Heights where he now lives with his husband and son, and apparently, many other families nearby.
“There are lots of families and kids and strollers,” he said. “It’s nice up here.”
This week, Owen-Michaane went straight to the bank after receiving his $13,000 in damages, which, he said, will be used to send his son to pre-school and pay some of the couple’s student loans, which total $200,000.
“We’re not going on some big vacation,” he said.
Additionally, out of the damages, $1,600 was taken out for retroactive MCI fees. Not having known about that, Owen-Michaane felt that a heads up from the attorneys or tenant leaders “would have been nice.”
Owen-Michaane, who works in real estate sales for the firm Maz Group NY, added, “No one told us anything.”
That said, overall, Owen-Michaane said the suit was definitely still a win for tenants.
“It was a victory for the little guy, the middle class, who usually get forgotten,” he said.

“Roberts” tenant Jill Pratzon, who owns an art restoration business, said after getting her check, she felt misled about the entire lawsuit.
Pratzon, who moved into Stuy Town with her son and husband, a high school teacher, towards the end of the Met Life era, said due to “Roberts,” she got a $90 rent reduction. This brought down the rent for her one-bedroom apartment on Avenue C to just over $3,000. In damages, after deductions, she and her husband each got checks for $37.50.
“I feel like a fool for staying,” said Pratzon, who got a $500 increase at the time of their first renewal when Tishman Speyer took over the property. The couple’ son had just come home from brain surgery, and they asked management to consider not increasing their rent. In response, it was lowered to a $400 increase. Pratzon said she was told at the time that the owner was planting a lot of trees and that she’d love living there because it would be like the Garden of Eden.
“I come home after dark,” she said. “I don’t have time to enjoy the f—ing greenery.”
When Pratzon moved in it was because the building had an elevator and her son was in a wheelchair. “Then he was out and this lawsuit happened and I thought it was going to mean something,” said Pratzon.
Pratzon, who’s 52, said she’s recently begun taking on more clients, working longer hours, six days a week. Now she and her husband are the oldest people on their floor. People in two other apartments moved out this week.
“Everyone is young and coming and going,” she said. “We introduce ourselves and then a few months later, they’re moving out. They’re professionals or about to be young professionals. I’ve got no grievances with them. It’s management.”
Pratzon also pointed out that in order to afford the rent, her family has no savings.
“We’re hanging on with our fingernails. I felt for years that New York doesn’t want us, me with my small business and my husband who helps at-risk kids in Brooklyn.”

Jill Campbell at her new apartment in Williamsburg

Jill Campbell at her new apartment in Williamsburg

Jill Campbell, a documentary maker, moved into Stuyvesant Town in 2008. The following year, with the “Roberts” case being won by tenants, she was attending tenant meetings and hearing about how the apartments were re-regulated and later, about the Tenants Association’s hope of going condo. At one point, she recalled her rent going down slightly as a result of the case, but just last month, after the most recent increase, she felt she couldn’t afford it anymore. And this was after haggling and getting a significant amount shaved off the bill. Campbell asked that the amount of her rent and what she received in damages not be published. However, she noted that due to legal fees, the damages were less than what she thought she’d be getting.
Overall, Campbell, who now lives in Williamsburg, said she doesn’t feel like the lawsuit impacted her, other than if she hadn’t gotten her hopes up for lower rent similar to what those in unrenovated units were paying, she would have moved out sooner.
But that wasn’t the only reason for leaving.
“It felt like we were living in a dorm,” she said. “Especially on weekends when they would leave pizza boxes scattered on the hallway floors.  The door badge system particularly felt like an invasion of privacy as I had to register any guest that I wanted to provide a key for. The price tag was way to high to live in a dorm. All the ‘Roberts’ expectations and the town meetings surrounding the case did was to raise false expectations that my rent would be lower and that one day I might buy the place at an inside price. When both of those did not materialize we had no choice but to leave.”
While she doesn’t feel the suit did much for “Roberts” tenants, Campbell said she believes it did help the older residents in that it stopped the wave of primary residence challenges aimed at getting them out.
“I think it was good for the old-timers who now have peace of mind,” she said.

Software writer Nick Furness, a resident since 2001, said he first lived in Stuyvesant Town in a two-bedroom, then moved into a one-bedroom in 2003 when the rent got higher than he could afford. He and his wife, a handbag designer, were okay until the rent there got to be around $3500. They then started looking around at other places and though they found other places in the East Village that were slightly cheaper, “they were horrible.” Plus, Stuy Town rent at least included utilities and the large windows offered a lot of light.
After the market crashed, in 2008 or 2009, Furness said he was able to negotiate a significantly lower rent. He wasn’t aware of the “Roberts” litigation at the time and now wonders if it was the reason he was able to get Tishman Speyer to agree to reduce his rent to around $2600. Since then it’s been slowly “creeping back up,” said Furness and he now pays a little over $3,000.
“We’re happy to pay it because it’s the going rate for apartments in this neighborhood.”
In damages, the Furnesses were due $17,000. After fees, the amount was around $11,000. He was a bit surprised by the amount, admitting he hadn’t read all the fine print of the settlement. “It’s like how no one ever reads the iTunes contract.”
At the end of the day, while Furness said he wished attorneys had done more to protect tenants from high fees, he believes he’s better off with a rent regulated home.
“With the rules in place,” said Furness, “I feel happier staying here than I would being in the free market. When the market went up stupidly, our rent went up 30 to 40 percent. That would have been hard to bear.”

Throwback Thursday: This week in T&V history

1964 Little League champs

1964 Little League champs

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Town & Village newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for over 65 years and we’ve decided to start taking a look back to see what was going on in the community 50 years ago. Here are a couple of snapshots from the June 18, 1964 issue of Town & Village.

Met Life’s battle over pet dog
Dogs weren’t allowed in the complex in 1964 and as a result, a Stuyvesant Town family found themselves in a court battle with property owner Metropolitan Life over their pooch. A cover story in the June 18 issue said that the dog was a 15-pound French poodle and had been living at 16 Stuyvesant Oval with the family for the past eight months. The story noted that it wasn’t Met Life’s intention to evict the tenants but to evict the dog, and it went on to say that the pooch’s owner, a lawyer by the name of Murray Leonard, intended to represent her in court.

The owner based his case on recent court decisions that held in similar circumstances that residents could house a dog if it could be proven that the canine was not a nuisance to others. The Leonards had been living in Stuyvesant Town since 1948 and Leonard’s wife said that the dog was a gift and it was not their intention to purposely violate their lease.

Alleged Nazi found guilty of rioting
A police blotter item in this 1964 issue of the paper noted that a Peter Cooper Village resident was found guilty of inciting a riot in connection with a civil rights demonstration the previous July. The story said that PCV resident Anthony Wells, 23, who was an alleged member of the neo-Nazi National Resistance Party, was one of eight men accused of seeking to incite violence against black people who were demonstrating at a White Castle diner in the Bronx. Police found a cross-bow, guns and knives in the alleged Nazi’s station wagon.

PSLL team champs
Members of the Peter Cooper-Stuyvesant Little League team, the First Federal Savings & Loan Indians, gathered at home plate after beating the Village & Towne Sweet Shoppe Cubs and being named the World Series champions in a close game the previous Saturday.

Remembering Roy Goodman and more civilized days in Albany

Roy Goodman in a photo that ran in Town & Village in 1977

Roy Goodman in a photo that ran in Town & Village in 1977

By Sabina Mollot
On June 3, 2014, Roy Goodman, the Republican New York State senator who represented part of the East Side of Manhattan, including Stuyvesant Town, for 33 years, died at the age of 84.
According to his daughter Claire Pellegrini-Cloud, Goodman’s death at a hospital in Danbury, Connecticut, was most likely caused by pneumonia.
He had also, for around a decade, been battling Parkinson’s and relied on a wheelchair to get around. His death came as a surprise however, since he’d been active and was just returning home to Manhattan from a trip to see one of his six grandchildren graduate from Harvard. He also attended a number of other events at Harvard, his alma mater, recently, including an awards dinner. On the way home from the graduation trip, an aide noticed that Goodman’s hands were turning blue and called 911. Goodman was admitted to Danbury Hospital on Thursday night, but wound up taking a turn for the worse over the weekend.
“He was surrounded by family up until the last moment,” Pellegrini-Cloud said. “It was a peaceful death.”
Throughout his lengthy political career, Goodman was known for his socially liberal views. He was a supporter of women’s rights, from protection against domestic violence to the right to choose, as well as of LGBT rights and services for people with HIV/AIDS when the disease was just coming into public awareness. He also fought for tenant rights and affordability and was instrumental in the prevention of Riverwalk, a towering luxury development that would have cut off ST/PCV residents’ access to the waterfront and blocked their views of the river. While tackling the city’s fiscal crisis during the 1970s, he still pushed for continued funding of the arts. He also worked on city charter revision and ran the State Senate’s committee on investigations.
Though he left office over a decade ago, with his passing, former colleagues have been wistfully noting the official end to an era when Republicans and Democrats enjoyed a far less contentious — and far more productive — working relationship.
Since his departure from office in 2002, when he was succeeded by Liz Krueger, there have been no Republicans elected anywhere in Manhattan.

State Senator Roy Goodman (left) with Vincent Albano, chairman of the New York County Republican Committee, in a 1979 Town & Village photo

State Senator Roy Goodman (left) with Vincent Albano, chairman of the New York County Republican Committee, in a 1979 Town & Village photo

At that time, noted Pellegrini-Cloud, Goodman was disappointed at the sharp right turn his party had taken, and that “people couldn’t rise above personal vendettas to work together. He was very solution oriented.”
She added that this attitude extended to Goodman’s family life. When she was growing up, Goodman would make sure each of his three children, Claire, Randolph and Leslie, got equal airtime at the dinner table. When there were disagreements, “He would say, ‘Let’s not be so quick to judge that person. Let’s see it from their point of view,’” said Pellegrini-Cloud.
Meanwhile, she disagreed with a detail in a recent story in the New York Times, which first reported on Goodman’s passing, that said her father was seen by some as a snob.
“He was known for mixing it up with anyone,” she said. “Yeah he used flowery language, but he was a great believer that the average person could understand that. Why dumb it down?”
Steven Sanders, the Assemblyman who represented the ST/PCV area for 28 years (25 of those alongside Goodman) recalled working with the senator to fight Riverwalk as well of another development farther north in Tudor City. That Harry Helmsley project would have destroyed residents’ park space. Sanders, on the morning of his wedding day, heard that a bulldozer had come to the site, and promptly headed over there to join the tenants in forming a human chain. Goodman, meanwhile, managed to secure an order from a judge to stop work despite it being a weekend.
He also recalled how due to legislation sponsored by Goodman in the Senate and Sanders in the Assembly, the cost of major capital improvement rent increases (MCIs) for tenants was reduced.
“Since MCIs as we know are paid in perpetuity, the cumulative savings for tenants became hundreds of dollars in each year,” Sanders said. They also worked together with the owner of Waterside Plaza, Richard Ravitch, and the Waterside Tenants Association to create an affordable housing contract for tenants at the complex when its Mitchell-Lama contract expired in 2001.
He also recalled how back in the 1980s, he and Goodman, along with then Town & Village Publisher Charles Hagedorn and Bill Potter, then the general manager of Stuyvesant Town, would meet for lunch every few months. The spot was usually Capucines, a restaurant on Second Avenue at 19th Street that recently closed.
“It was social and an occasional discussion of some community issues,” said Sanders, who is now the only surviving member of that group. “Imagine that… Republicans and Democrats, and the representative of the landlord Met life along with the publisher of the Town & Village joining together as colleagues.”
But, added the former assemblyman, who left office eight years ago, “Roy and I come from a different time. That notion of governing seems to have been lost. Politics has been exceedingly contentious. It’s all about winning and losing. We had our tussles every two years when I supported my candidates and he supported his, but then we’d have a drink or lunch and we would do community work for our district. We will not see his like again.”
Krueger, whose first run for office was against Goodman, said she remembered her opponent’s humor when he ultimately defeated her.
“His graciousness and good humor were on full display from that campaign’s beginning to its end, when, victorious after a six-week recount, he jokingly dubbed himself ‘Landslide Goodman,’” she shared in a written statement last week.
According to a Times article, he had a similar attitude when he lost a mayoral race in 1977 to Ed Koch.

Roy Goodman (right) with Frank Scala in a 2006 campaign  flier for Scala’s Assembly run

Roy Goodman (right) with Frank Scala in a 2006 campaign flier for Scala’s Assembly run

Frank Scala, the president of the Vincent Albano Republican Club, was a friend of Goodman’s and had his endorsement when he ran an unsuccessful campaign for Assembly in 2006 during a special election.
This week, Scala pointed out that most people living in ST/PCV are unaware of Goodman’s involvement in the creation of Stuyvesant Cove Park a decade ago.
While still in office, he’d allocated $1.2 million for its construction. “If it wasn’t for Roy Goodman the park wouldn’t have been built,” said Scala.
Goodman had also encouraged Scala to revive the Albano Club after it had been inactive for years.
In 1981, Goodman became the Republican New York County Committee chair and remained in that position for 20 years.
After leaving office, he served as CEO for the United Nations Development Corporation and was a participant in a handful of organizations supporting the arts. Up until the time of his death he lived on the Upper East Side, where he grew up, the grandson of Israel Matz, founder of Ex-Lax.
In an interesting coincidence, Goodman’s death occurred within 24 hours of the time his wife of over 50 years, Barbara, died eight years ago.
On both days, Pellegrini-Cloud remembered there being loud, violent thunderstorms, and only after the more recent one, she spotted a rainbow.
“I like to think it was my dad’s stairway to heaven, going to join Mom,” she said. “It was incredible.”
Condolence visitation for Goodman was held on Sunday, June 15 from 6-8 p.m. at Frank E. Campbell, 1076 Madison Avenue at 81st Street. The funeral service was on Monday, June 16 at Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue and 65th Street. The burial was private.

Hoylman resolution honors Lee Lorch, late desegregation hero of Stuy Town

Lee Lorch

Lee Lorch

By Sabina Mollot
Lee Lorch, the leader of Stuyvesant Town’s desegregation movement, who died on February 28, was honored this week in Albany with a resolution introduced by State Senator Brad Hoylman.
Unlike a bill, a resolution of this nature is something that’s passed by the entire legislative body, and in this case was done to honor Lorch’s legacy as a civil rights hero.
“It’s an opportunity for the Senate to acknowledge, in an official way, someone’s life work,” Hoylman explained.
He got the idea for the resolution after it was suggested to him by former ST-PCV Tenants Association President Al Doyle. Doyle brought it up after Lorch died at the age of 98.
Lorch, who had a long career as a mathematics professor, moved to Stuyvesant Town after serving in the Army’s Air Corps during World War II. He believed that Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village should have been open to non-whites and practiced what he preached by letting a black family live in his apartment for a year while he was away on a job at Penn State. He also, with a small group of neighbors, formed the Town and Village Tenants Committee to End Discrimination in Stuyvesant Town. The group eventually swelled to 1,800 members and after a succession of political and court battles with owner Met Life, Met backed down on its discriminatory leasing policy. However, this wasn’t before Lorch lost his job as a professor at City College and later other colleges due to his activism and he was still eventually driven out from his Stuy Town apartment. In 1959, he moved to Canada and remained there until his death.
In his presentation to his colleagues in the Senate, Hoylman described Lorch as “an unsung, great hero of the Civil Rights Movement” and “a man of great courage and conviction.”

This week in T&V history: MetLife Chairman Ecker dies

By Seth Shire
Town & Village newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for over 65 years and we’ve decided to start taking a look back to see what was going on in the community 50 years ago. Here are a couple of snapshots from the March 26, 1964 issue of Town & Village.

Ecker Obituary
This issue of T&V had an obituary for Frederick Hudson Ecker, 96, honorary chairman of Metropolitan Life who, the story claims, was “most responsible for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.”
Reading about Mr. Ecker provided an interesting contrast between what Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village originally stood for and what the two developments have since become. The article quotes from a bronze plaque, which, it explains, was placed at the base of the flagpole in Stuyvesant Oval on August 30, 1947, on the occasion of Mr. Ecker’s 80th birthday. An excerpt from the plaque says that Mr. Ecker “brought into being this project, and others like it, that families of moderate means might live in health, comfort and dignity in parklike communities, and that a pattern might be set of private enterprise productively devoted to public service.”
Nowhere does the plaque mention the deregulation of apartments, sub division of apartments or admitting entitled, inconsiderate, drunken, improperly raised college students who treat our home as if it were their dorm. The plaque, unfortunately, has been gone from the grounds since 2001. Surprising?

Typewriter stolen
This 1964 edition of Town & Village reports crimes and money lost.
“Mr. Charles Schlichtger, 280 Avenue C, reported to police that a typewriter had been stolen from his locker in the motor repair shop at the same address.”
Fifty years ago, the theft of a typewriter might be the equivalent of someone’s laptop being stolen. Today, I don’t think one could even give away a typewriter, much less have one stolen.
Another incident in that week’s blotter noted that two people were missing money, one of which was due to a robbery at 129 Third Avenue, which at the time was the Blue Sea Restaurant. The blotter said that a porter at the restaurant was held up by “two male Negroes” who stole two cases of whiskey and some cash.
Funny; in all of my research through old police blotters, I do not recall seeing any crime reports in which the perpetrators were identified as Caucasian or white.

‘Roberts’ payments delayed again

Tenants Association President John Marsh (pictured last fall) alerts tenants to the latest delay in "Roberts v. Tishman Speyer" payments. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The ST-PCV Tenants Association (President John Marsh pictured last fall) alerted tenants to the latest delay in “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” payments. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot
Residents and former residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village who were waiting for their checks from the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” settlement will have to wait a while longer.
The second distribution of payments, this time the damages CWCapital is responsible for paying, has been delayed, the ST-PCV Tenants Association announced on Wednesday.
The Tenants Association, while not a party to the class action lawsuit, alerted neighbors in an email on Wednesday at the request of the “Roberts” attorneys.
“The delay is attributable to complexity in the claims administration process, but is expected to be a short one,” the TA said it was told by attorneys.
This is the second delay, with the first one being in the fall for tenants’ payments from Met Life.
Lead attorney Alex Schmidt of the firm Wolf Haldenstein told Town & Village the latest delay was due to a couple of reasons, the first being that CWCapital believes that many tenants owe back rent, which would be taken out of the damages, and the other was that many class members filed claims after the May 15, 2013 deadline.
“If they’ve expressed a good reason for filing late there no reason not to pay them,” said Schmidt. But, he noted, with each new claim, the amount of damages that’s spread among the pool changes.
The portion of damages former owner Met Life was responsible for, which is considered a separate pool from the CW damages, was paid at the end of last December.
Though he wasn’t sure when those owed money by CW would be paid, there “shouldn’t be an extended delay,” Schmidt said. He added, “We’re still ahead of where most class actions are. It’s rare to get distributions done within even a year of a settlement being approved.”
Out of a $173 million settlement for tenants in apartments that were illegally deregulated by former owners MetLife and Tishman Speyer, close to $69 million will be paid out to tenants. The rest of the money is in the form of rent savings.
Unlike the Met Life payments, in which class members received 110 percent of what they owed, there won’t be 110 percent payments for the CW payments for current tenants. There will be 100 percent of the overpayments paid back minus legal fees and expenses. This is because of how many current tenants (or specifically those owed money by CW who still lived in ST/PCV on May 15, 2013) ended up filing. (Current and former tenants are also in separate pools.) Current tenants filed for their damages at a 99 percent rate of eligible class members while over 50 percent of former tenants in the class filed.
Schmidt said for a class action suit, this was a “very good” result. He also noted that current tenants, while getting a smaller payout, also get the settlement’s benefit of rent savings. So, he reasoned, “It’s not inequitable.”
As for the tenants who CW believes owe back rent, there are quite a few out of the 11,800 people who filed claims. Schmidt didn’t have the exact number available, but said, “CW’s calculations turned out to be far more complex than anyone anticipated.”
Those who are not believed to be in arrears with their rent will be paid first, and those who are will still receive a portion of their damages. To get any amount that’s in dispute, the tenant or former tenant will have 45 days to object.
“If they’re not accurate I’m sure there’ll be a lot of objections,” said Schmidt, who says he plans to negotiate any claim of payment owed with CWCapital or if the parties fail to reach an agreement, ask the court to resolve the matter.
A spokesperson for CWCapital did not yet return a request for comment.

CWCapital to market ST for sale soon: report

ST-PCV Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg, pictured at a a rally against mid-lease rent increases in May (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

ST-PCV Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg, pictured at a a rally against mid-lease rent increases in May (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

CWCapital is expect to market Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village in the middle of this year, according to a report on Globest.com. However, the article goes on to say a sale is not expected to be completed in 2014.

CWCapital did not respond to a request for comment on the story, and has not spoken about the possibility of a sale for some time, explaining to the ST-PCV Tenants Association, a would-be buyer with partner Brookfield Asset Management, that talks could not happen until the resolution of “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer.” That could happen soon though, since according to the “Roberts” attorney for tenants, Alex Schmidt, checks for rent overpayments as a result of the class action lawsuit, could be headed tenants’ way from CW in January or February. Payments from former owner Met Life were sent out to affected tenants in late December.

However, the company could also be waiting to resolve the ongoing negotiations over five major capital improvement (MCI) rent increases with the Tenants Association. The TA said this week that talks were still ongoing over the MCIs, which were charged on tenants’ rent bills this month after being approved late last year by the state housing agency.

Meanwhile, Susan Steinberg, chair of the Tenants Association, said on Wednesday that the fact that CW could be marketing the property for a sale soon was not a new development.

“We had seen this statement in a similar report several months ago, so this does not come as a surprise,” she said. “CW doesn’t have to go far to ‘start marketing the asset,’ since all along the TA/Brookfield partnership has been ready, willing and able to start the conversation about a tenant-led purchase that would satisfy the bondholders. We would like to think such a conversation will happen before too long.”

‘Roberts’ tenants should soon see checks from Met Life

"Roberts" attorney Alex Schmidt  (Photo by Sabina Mollot, graphic by Edward O'Rourke)

“Roberts” attorney Alex Schmidt
(Photo by Sabina Mollot)

UPDATE: The judge has approved the payments to go out, and according to attorney Alex Schmidt, checks should go out no later than Friday, December 27.

By Sabina Mollot

Oh Santa, I love it!

This holiday season, current and former residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village who are members of the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” class action suit will have something to celebrate ― checks for their damages from Met Life.

According to tenants’ “Roberts” attorney Alex Schmidt, pending a judge’s approval later this week, the residents who are owed money for rent over-payments from when Met Life was still the owner will see that money by the end of the year. This money stems from the period of January, 2003 and mid-November, 2006, the later date being when Tishman Speyer bought the property.

Though nothing will be finalized until Thursday when the parties meet with the judge, Schmidt, of the firm Wolf Haldenstein, said at this time he doesn’t believe there will be any surprises.

About 12,000 of the 27,500 class members of “Roberts” are owed money from Met Life, and those people will actually get 110 percent of what they overpaid as determined under the complicated damages formula. The reason they’re getting 110 percent is that not everyone who was eligible for damages actually filed for their share of the pool.

Additionally, noted Schmidt, many of those people “are also eligible for later damages from CWCapital.”

As for those current and former tenants, Schmidt said he is hoping for them to be compensated by January or February. The reason those payments are taking longer to process, he said, is that CW believes around 1,100 of those people owe back rent or have nonpayment issues. Those tenants will have a 45-day period to appeal this claim once notified, said Schmidt. Additionally, there is also the matter of around 100 people who filed their paperwork to partake in their share of the damages pool after an extended deadline of May 31, 2013.

“So there is an issue about what to do with those claims,” said Schmidt.

The deadline had been extended from its original date of May 15, 2013 after a push by Schmidt, local elected officials and the ST-PCV Tenants Association to contact class members to let them know that getting damages wasn’t automatic; they’d have to file. Upon being contacted, some of those individuals said they were not even aware they were entitled to money.

Not surprisingly, the push worked, many more tenants filed and this was also a reason for the delay in getting payments out. Attorneys had hoped to get the first round of checks out by October, but the massive amount of paperwork took a while to sort through, said Schmidt.

Damages range per person with some getting a minimal payout of $150 and others getting thousands. One individual who overpaid for a long time, said Schmidt, is entitled to around $200,000.

Out of a $173 million settlement for tenants in apartments that were illegally deregulated by former owners Met Life and Tishman Speyer, close to $69 million will be paid out to tenants. The rest of the money is in the form of rent savings.

The settlement has not been without controversy though since it also led to acting owner CWCapital being allowed to raise rents mid-lease for around 1,100 tenants. (Following an investigation by the attorney general into allegations of tenants being misled by leasing reps, 150 of those tenants received rent rollbacks.)

The settlement, approved by a judge in April, concluded over six years of litigation over the former owners of ST/PCV’s deregulation of apartments while receiving J-51 tax abatements, which are for rent stabilized properties.

Spokespeople for Met Life and CWCapital have not yet responded to a request for comment.

Tenants protest mid-lease rent hikes

Tenants protest outside the leasing office on Saturday. Photo by Sabina Mollot

Tenants protest outside the leasing office on Saturday.
Photo by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

Following the discovery last week that close to 1,300 residents were being hit with mid-lease rent hikes that have been as high as $2,200, the Tenants Association, along with a handful of other tenants, have taken their grievances to the leasing office.

The plan has been to have “sustained” picketing, with sign-holding tenants warning potential renters and passersby on First Avenue about the increases as well as various quality of life issues like the lack of laundry rooms in some buildings and bedbug sightings in others.

On Saturday alone, TA members said they spoke with with around 50 people outside the leasing office.

John Marsh, president of the Tenants Association, said protesters were telling anyone thinking of renting not to accept verbal representations by leasing agents. “Have everything in writing.”

Most people they spoke with, added Marsh, ending up being concerned about how mid-lease hikes and other issues like broken elevators could affect them. Others, however, simply ignored protesters as they went in and out of the leasing office.

After being asked by a reporter if he’d be moving in, one person in a small group of people leaving the leasing office, would only say, “We read our lease.”

Additionally, CWCapital fired back at the TA by having its leasing agents escort

Tenants Association Chair  Susan Steinberg talks to a neighbor outside the leasing office on Saturday. Photo by Sabina Mollot

Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg talks to a neighbor outside the leasing office on Saturday.
Photo by Sabina Mollot

prospective renters to model apartments after meeting them at the back of the leasing office. ST/PCV security also, on Saturday morning, called the cops on protesters, asking officers to force protesters to stand behind barriers that were put up over six feet away from the leasing office, close to the curb. However, according to protesters, the cops said the tenants were fine where they were, as long as they remained peaceful and didn’t block traffic. A couple of security officers remained outside the leasing office though for as long as the picketing continued.

As for those who were there on Saturday, around a dozen residents were participating, most of whom were longtime tenants, unaffected by the rent hikes that have been issued to “Roberts” class members.

“My heart’s breaking for the community,” said Susan Kasloff, a 17-year resident as she handed out flyers by the First Avenue Loop.

Marsh and TA Chair Susan Steinberg were also on the scene, as was TA Board Members Steven Newmark and Kirstin Aadahl. Both Aadahl and Newmark are “Roberts” class members, though she got a mid-lease increase and he didn’t. Aadahl said she’s been telling people who enter the leasing office to ask questions such as whether there have been bedbugs in the building. “Because we’re finding out that some tenants are being told after they sign their lease.”

She also said despite the hike she got, she’ll be sticking around. The increase was for $550, but this follows another increase of $200 when she last renewed her lease in February.

“We love living in Stuyvesant Town, but it’s going to be very hard,” said Aadahl.

According to Marsh, the TA is exploring its options, and there has been talk among tenants about a rent strike. However, Marsh said if anything, it would be a rent slowdown, and this would only be done as a last-ditch option since “Roberts” class tenants have a clause in their leases that would allow the owner to hit them with a $50 fee for not paying their rent on time. More longterm tenants however could technically participate in a rent slowdown and not pay their rent for three months before CWCapital could try to evict them, said Marsh. At this time, however, the TA is not recommending that anyone withhold or delay paying rent.

Tenants Association President John Marsh and residents Sandra Lynn and John Giannone Photo by Sabina Mollot

Tenants Association President John Marsh and residents Sandra Lynn and John Giannone
Photo by Sabina Mollot

In response to the protesting, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for CW, said that the special servicer was acting within its rights following the settlement.

“The rent adjustments were negotiated as part of the settlement and approved by the nine tenant representatives, their attorneys, and the court,” he said. “We intend to implement the agreement in accordance with its terms.”

The rent hikes came on the first day that CWCapital was legally allowed to issue them, which, tenants were warned back in January, the special servicer could do following the “Roberts” settlement. What kind of increase tenants got varied from $100 to $2,200 with most impacted tenants getting increases of hundreds of dollars. Residents were also initially told they’d have two weeks to decide whether they’d be staying or moving. However, the next day CW announced residents would get an extra month.

Residents T&V spoke with on Saturday, though, didn’t seem impressed by the concession.

Two residents protesting outside the leasing office on Saturday, Sandra Lynn and John Giannone, said they hadn’t gotten increases, but have been hearing horror stories from neighbors who did. Giannone said he found out about them when neighbors knocked on the door to ask if they’d gotten one. “They got a statement under their door that said their rent was going up $1,100 with no explanation,” he said.

Another resident who approached the protesters said she was unaware of exactly what her rent hike was, though it wasn’t for her lack of trying. The woman, who didn’t want her name printed, said she was listed one new price somewhere in her lease renewal document and another elsewhere in the paperwork, and said she’s been unable to reach anyone in the leasing office to ask what she’s supposed to be paying. It’s either $600 or $800 more. After going in, she was told that no one in there could answer her questions and was referred to the property’s legal department. However, when she tried to negotiate the rent increase with an attorney, she said he wouldn’t budge. Interestingly, when she later walked into the leasing office with her boyfriend and the two posed as would-be tenants, they were given the impression that there was some wiggle room in price for new tenants.

In other “Roberts” related news, the case’s attorney for tenants, Alex Schmidt, said on Monday that an effort to extend the deadline for class members to file for their damages has been successful. The original deadline was May 15 and the new date is May 31. However, if residents don’t file their paperwork by then, their share of the nearly $69 million in rent overcharge returns will go back to CWCapital and MetLife.

The extension will likely be seen as good news by a member of the class action suit who approached Steinberg on Saturday to ask what it was all about. The resident wanted to know if he was entitled to anything even though he thought he may have gotten someone else’s paperwork. No one in the apartment, he explained, is named Roberts. However, after getting filled in on what Roberts meant, he said he’d be filing.