StuyTown Property Services recently informed the Board of Directors of the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association that they are embarking on an “experiment” to reconfigure vacant apartments. Although construction has already begun, StuyTown Property Services has not yet notified the community.
The new program will convert 40 vacant Peter Cooper Village units by turning the kitchen of a one-bedroom unit into a bedroom and moving the kitchen into the living room; combining adjacent one- and two-bedroom units to form a three-bedroom unit; and reconfiguring adjacent one- and two-bedroom units to create a three-bedroom unit and a studio. The new program will continue to divide Stuyvesant Town living rooms of 75 vacant apartments to provide an additional bedroom at the expense of living and dining space.
The Board of Directors of the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association opposes the reconfiguration of the Stuyvesant Town apartments, which reduces living rooms to foyers in order to increase sleeping spaces. The arrangement, which degrades the time-tested, well-designed layout, will likely result in an increase in the existing transient rent-a-room lifestyle. This is the antithesis of the original concept of our community. This reconfiguration will most certainly exacerbate the dormitory and churn effects which tenants have been objecting to since subdivision of apartments began. It will add further pressure to our aging infrastructure. It will continue to destabilize our once-cohesive community.
However, we consider that, with the exception of the studio apartments, the reconfigured Peter Cooper Village units may attract long-term residents, the stated goal of both management and the Tenants Association.
The Term Sheet executed by the City and Blackstone when the latter purchased the property states in part:
"The agreement protects both the current tenants of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, as well as the Property’s legacy as a home for moderate- and middle-income New Yorkers for the generation to come. The Purchaser and the City are committed to the good stewardship of this unique community, and its long-term viability.
"In addition, the Purchaser intends to maintain the unique characteristics of the Property . . . by creating an environment that is conducive to residents establishing a long-term connection to the community."
The Tenants Association believes the terms and the spirit of the purchase should preserve the functionality of the original Stuyvesant Town living spaces in order to maintain, not violate, a viable and gratifying living experience in an unusual urban setting.
Concerned that Trader Joe’s and Target would be perceived by Blackstone as “affordable” grocery options, thereby paving the way for Blackstone to either lease to a more expensive grocery store or plan for another type of commercial facility in the space currently occupied by Associated, the Stuyvesant Town—Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association wrote the following on June 5, 2017, to Rick Hayduk, CEO of Stuytown Property Services:
I’m not sure to what degree you have ever shopped in either Trader Joe’s or Target, but these retailers do not provide the complete grocery experience that an Associated or Morton Williams do. Trader Joe’s is good for shoppers seeking gluten-free, vegan, or organic products. Except for certain fruit and vegetables, their produce is pre-packaged. They do not have fresh meat and fish, are limited in popular items, such as sodas (i.e., you can’t go in there for club soda or seltzer, or other commonly purchased sodas), and you can’t even buy just plain rice. Paper products are in very limited supply. Target is great for sodas, snacks, and canned or packaged items, and has a good supply of paper products, but they are limited as to fresh offerings. Neither of those stores offers a deli or salad bar or hot food to go.
I find strange the fact that Morton Williams pulled out because of the future presence of Trader Joe’s and Target because the customer base is different for all three retailers.
The enthusiasm to maintain our Associated Supermarket is not just about the price point. Many seniors have expressed how friendly the staff are and how the store goes out of its way to provide extra little services for them. When the construction of the new L train entrance at Avenue A commences, seniors and the mobility impaired will have even more of a challenge to access a nearby store. Just crossing to the south side of 14th Street in a construction zone could endanger them. We need a reliable, affordable grocery store on the premises.
Several months ago, the Tenants Association took action in response to our concerned residents and developed a petition to keep Associated. It was signed by hundreds of shoppers and ultimately delivered to Blackstone. We will continue to reach out to you and advocate on behalf of our constituency until the issue has been resolved.
Please share this concern with your peers at Blackstone when you discuss the store’s space with them.
The letter was signed by Susan Steinberg, TA President.
The city’s annual process for determining rent increases for rent-stabilized apartments has begun. The increases will affect leases that renew between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018.
How much will the increases be? In a preliminary vote, the Rent Guidelines Board recommended a range of 1%–3% for one-year leases and 2%–4% for two-year leases. Although the RGB’s staff reports projected increased costs for landlords, they also showed that net operating income for landlords far exceeded their costs (details below).
Wednesday, June 14, 2–8 p.m.: You can testify in person—two-minute limit—to the RGB at the U.S. Customs House at 1 Bowling Green (4 and 5 trains to Bowling Green). You must register to speak. Before the hearing, call (212) 669-7480. You can also sign up at the hearing.
Tips for testifying in person:
- Make it personal—why you deserve a rollback or a low increase
- Keep your remarks to the two-minute limit by timing yourself
Interpretation available in Spanish and Mandarin. If you need a sign language interpreter or an interpreter for a language other than those mentioned, make a request by June 1 by calling (212) 669-7480 or writing to the RGB at 1 Centre Street, Suite 2210, New York, NY 10007.
Can’t attend or have a lot more to say? Other ways you can submit comments by June 22:
Mail: NYC Rent Guidelines Board, 1 Centre Street, Suite 2210, New York, NY 10007
Fax: NYC Rent Guidelines Board, (212) 669-7488
Final vote: Tuesday, June 27, at 7 p.m. at Baruch College’s Mason Hall, at 17 Lexington Avenue (corner of 23rd Street).
How are landlords doing? According to RGB staff reports:
- Landlords’ operating costs went up 6.2% this year; they’re projected to go up 4.4% next year.
- Excluding fuel and steam costs, landlords’ operating costs went up 4.5%.
From 2014 to 2015, net operating income (revenue remaining after operating expenses are paid) grew 10.8%. This is the 11th consecutive year that NOI has increased.
On average, in stabilized buildings, 2014–2015:
- Rental income increased by 4.4%
- Total income rose by 4.4%
- Operating costs increased by 1.1%
- Net operating income (NOI) grew by 10.8%
What about tenants? Half of New York tenants pay more than 32% of their income to rent.
The RGB meeting schedule and videos of its meetings are at http://www.nycrgb.org/html/about/meetings.html. Copies of its reports are at http://www.nycrgb.org/html/research/cresearch.html.
The Annual Meeting of the Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, Inc., will be held on Wednesday, May 31, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, 423 East 23rd Street. At that time, members will vote to fill three seats on the TA Board of Directors. All members who are current in their dues as of May 22, 2017, the record date set for the meeting, are entitled to vote.
The Board of Directors, on the recommendation of the Nominating Committee, has endorsed the following persons to be elected to those seats:
Sherryl Kirschenbaum, who raised her two children in Stuyvesant Town, is now retired as a registered nurse at Beth Israel Medical Center. A longtime volunteer and building leader with the Tenants Association, she trains and oversees the activities of the volunteers who respond to resident inquiries to the TA’s Message Center, keeping them abreast of the up-to-date information they need in responding to resident queries and complaints. Sherry became a board member in 2013.
Judith Preble Miller has lived in Stuyvesant Town since 1975. A practicing attorney and supervisor for the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Practice for nearly 40 years, she serves on the TA’s Legal Committee and as the Board Chair of the STPCV Tenants’ Association Foundation, Inc. Judy joined the Board in 2010.
Sandro Sherrod, a technology director at NYU Medical Center, has been a resident of Stuyvesant Town for 25 years. A past chair of Community Board 6 and past president of the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club, he serves on the Board’s Communications and Outreach Committees. Sandro was elected to the Board in 2013.
Other TA members interested in being elected to the Board were provided the opportunity to be nominated by submitting a petition signed by 30 current members of the Tenants Association no later than April 11, 2017. Because no such petitions were submitted, only the three persons endorsed by the Board have been nominated. All three are incumbents on the Board.
Since the election is uncontested this year, in an effort to minimize expenses, no proxies or ballots will be distributed. The election will be conducted at the Annual Meeting.
The Nominating Committee consists of the following members of the Tenants Association: Kevin J. Farrelly, Soni Fink, Gary Ireland, Keith Powers, and Patricia Sallin.
Tues, April 25, preliminary vote at Cooper Union: Rally at 6 p.m., vote at 7 p.m. Rent freeze? Rollback? Or increase?
Wed, June 14, 2 p.m.–8 p.m.: Tell the RGB in person (2 minutes) what you think should happen with increases this year. U.S. Customs House, 1 Bowling Green.
Tues, June 27, 7 p.m.: Final vote. Baruch College, Mason Hall, 17 Lexington Avenue (corner of 23rd St.).
Albany recently renewed a generous tax break for developers tied into providing new affordable housing for the city. It hasn’t worked so far and, renewed, will still not be meaningful. Worse, this tax break, known as 421-a, used to expire at the same time as the rent laws, giving tenants leverage in negotiations. Prior to the vote during the budget process in Albany, the TA sent a letter to elected representatives stating our objection to the renewal of the tax break.
Tuesday, April 4—6:30–8:30 p.m.
The plan to protect us from the floodwaters of the next superstorm.
Manny Cantor Center, 197 East Broadway (M14A to Grand St., M9 to East Broadway, or F train to East Broadway)
The city has completed a proposed amendment to its plan for the $4.21 billion in Federal disaster aid to help with recovery from Hurricane Sandy. You may comment on the plan until April 24.
Thursday, April 6—6:30–8:30 p.m.
Mount Sinai Beth Israel Community Forum
Mount Sinai Downtown Union Square
10 Union Square East (between 14th and 15th Sts.)
2nd floor conference room
Learn more about the Mount Sinai Beth Israel transformation.
Sunday, April 9—Deadline
High school, college, and graduate students; recent grads; and recent veterans can intern in various units of the Mayor’s Office.
Free Tax Preparation
NYC Free Tax Prep allows New Yorkers who earned $64,000 or less in 2016 to file their taxes for free. For more info, consult the Department of Consumer Affairs website.
And looking ahead:
Saturday, April 15—Deadline
The City Council’s Committee on Aging and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus seeks input from LGBT seniors about their housing needs.
Tuesday, April 18—6:30 p.m.
13th Precinct Community Council
230 East 21st St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves.
Hear a monthly update from the local police, and bring your concerns directly to them.
More events and information at Community Board 6’s page News You Can Use.
The Annual Meeting of the Stuyvesant Town Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, Inc. will be held on May 31, 2017. At that time, members will vote to fill three seats on the TA Board of Directors.Read more
Thursday, March 9, 2017, 7 p.m.–9 p.m., at Town and Village Synagogue, 334 East 14th St. RSVP to eastsideL-train.eventbrite.com
The MTA and the NYC Dept. of Transportation are holding an interactive community workshop for residents of the east side of Manhattan about the L train closure. The agencies will provide information on the Canarsie Tunnel repairs and solicit community feedback on possible alternate travel options during the planned 18-month closure. Elected officials and representatives from the MTA and DOT will be there to hear your ideas and answer your questions.
Read the press release.
See the letter from various elected officials to the MTA and DOT.