FOR ENGAGEMENT WITH
STUYVESANT TOWN - PETER COOPER VILLAGE TENANTS
DECEMBER 6, 2009
Three years ago, Tishman Speyer Properties, L.P. and BlackRock Realty Advisors bought Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for $5.4 billion, premised on the notion that they could quickly turn rent-stabilized apartments to the market. They engaged in aggressive tactics toward tenants, including serving legal notices on many long-time, perfectly legitimate people who had lived in the community for a generation. We fought back at every turn, and they did not achieve their goals.
Today, the property is worth less than $2 billion, and the Court of Appeals in Roberts (J-51) v. Tishman Speyer last month re-regulated all of the apartments that previously had been rented at the “market rate.” On November 6, Tishman and BlackRock turned the loan over to mortgage servicer CW Capital. According to the Fitch ratings agency, the property doesn’t produce enough income to pay the debt and a reserve fund probably will be depleted by year-end. It is well understood that Tishman and BlackRock need to restructure their debt, as the property verges on default.
The tenants of this community believe that their interests should be protected. In light of the fact that a considerable portion of the senior debt in this transaction is owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – two government-owned companies charged with protecting affordable housing, and bailed out by considerable federal taxpayer funds – there is also a public responsibility to do so.
Tenant Goals for Restructuring
Any plan supported by the Tenants Association and local elected officials, including a tenant-initiated bid, will need to significantly protect the affordability of the community for both current and future tenants. It will also need to ensure a proper level of maintenance and protect the configuration and unity of the Property.
1. Long-term Affordability
We welcome scenarios which create long-term affordability on the property, either through a model of home ownership and/or permanent rent protections.
2. Adequate Maintenance
The lack of funds for maintenance can cause deteriorating conditions in a community. The tenants of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village wish to avoid a reduction of service by ensuring that adequate funds are set aside for the purpose of maintenance. We will want to see a clear plan for achieving day-to-day maintenance, as well as a 5 – 10 year plan for all operational needs.
3. Protect the Historic Configuration of the Property
There are efforts underway to secure landmark status for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Tenants will oppose efforts to develop on open spaces. We believe that the historic configuration of the property should be protected.
4. Unification of the Property
Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village were built for veterans returning from World War II. Its buildings are the iconic post-war development for middle-income families who wanted to build a life in New York City. We believe that there should be no legal distinctions made between Peter Cooper and Stuyvesant Town. They are, together, one community, and should stay that way.
The tenants of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village want to work to preserve this community as affordable housing, with adequate maintenance and robust open spaces, where people at the middle of the income spectrum can live and raise a family in peace and safety. We believe that any future owner of this property must respect the principles set forth above, and we look forward to finding the right partner to achieve our goals.