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Management has two priorities: 1) Making sure money is made, hence upgrading and filling up apartments is their goal. "Amenities" are important in selling the place, though few residents use them. 2) If someone needs medical attention, Public Safety will be there, if alerted.

Quality of life issues are not that important, however. They tend to be ignored, despite "the rules." So you will see a lot that isn't taken care of properly, and complaints will be met with a creative excuse and a smile.

"Peace and quiet" must be a cruel joke, though this property is sold that way. There can be no peace and quiet as ALL apartments must be upgraded, which includes the installation of an AC unit below the window. Aside from the continual construction about the neighborhood, there is a new and noisy subway extension being built along East 14 st and the shut down of the L line. "Choosing" to live in NYC, now the newest mantra, is a fabrication when the talk is of ST and PCV, which was traditionally quiet, with no construction noise.

Though money was always important, it is now more important than ever. Money rules many things, as you will find.

At this point, 30 years into living here and seeing many things, I can state that Management and their reps are BS-ing us. I can't say that loudly enough: We are being BS-ed. I don't see any genuine change. Sorry.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Few Locations, A Small Number of Residents--So What's the Problem?

This week's TOWN & VILLAGE contained an article on the pipe banging that's been affecting many residents of Stuyvesant Town, with wake-up calls as early as 5AM. I already noted this "amenity" in a previous entry. Tishman Speyer's response, quoted in the paper:

"There are a few locations on the property where a small number of residents are experiencing increased pipe noise...."

I can't stand dismissive BS, and I would suppose all the tenants who are being affected would also find such a statement infuriating and condescending. Always trying to put on a brave, no-problem face, Tishman Speyer continues to insult its tenants as it tries to sell the complex to the rest of the world. Isn't it about time that TS should start firing these "spokespersons" for their company or at least give them new instructions?

Meanwhile, the Tenant Association's forums continue to be down for "maintenance," an excuse that by now is becoming its own peculiar, if not cruel, joke. A letter in TOWN & VILLAGE and commentary on the Lux Living blog indicate that a new, more proactive tenants organization may be in the works

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tishman Speyer's Surprise Wake-up Calls for Last Minute Shoppers



Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village last minute shoppers were given a delightful surprise this early Sunday morning by not just one free wake-up call, but two!

The first wake-up call came between the hours of 5:00AM and 6AM, when the pipes in many buildings began banging like crazy--and persistently.

"This is typically a sure fire way of waking up tenants," explained George Hatzmann, the managing director of ST/PCV for Tishman Speyer, whom I woke up at his Long Island home with a call at 9AM, wishing to find out more about this surprise Sunday amenity. "We realized this week," Hatzmann went on after two yawns, "that many of our tenants still have not finished or even started their holiday shopping, and today is a great day for early morning bargains at places like Macy's and Lord & Taylor. So what better way to send our Season's Greetings to residents than to provide this wake-up call, so that they can get their asses in gear and shop till they drop. Of course, just between us and off the record, I hope our rent-stabilized tenants do shop and drop--drop dead--so we can change over their apartments to market rate ones. But please don't quote me on this, I'm in enough shit already with that statement I made about pushing harder to get one of our disabled RS tenants out of Stuy Town!"

I assured Mr. Hatzmann that I would keep this confidence to myself, and then proceeded with my questioning, in between his sleepy yawns. What about the second wake-up call, which happened after 6AM, the snowplows, salt trucks, etc, with all their beeping and motor noises?

"Ha, that was fun!" Hatzmann replied jovially, interrupting a deep yawn in his excitement. "We already had that planned out last night. We figured there would be a tenth-of-an-inch of snow coming down during the night; that gave us the excuse, however flimsy it may seem. Anyway, if the banging pipes didn't wake up residents, surely our running and beeping snowplows would. And those boys do like to ride around in those things and back them up all the time!"

On behalf of all last minute shoppers in our community, I thanked Hatzmann and his company, Tishman Speyer, for being so considerate to us tenants this Sunday morning. But I had one concern:

"Is this going to be an MCI?"

"Oh, no, no," Hatzmann assured me. "We are already maxed out on MCIs that we will be hitting residents with starting next year. No, this is just our gift to tenants. Take it in the spirit in which it was intended."

"Thank you, Mr. Hatzmann. I hope you have a very pleasant holiday, you and Mr. Jerry Speyer and Mr. Rob Speyer."

"Yeah, you too. But next time don't call me up this fucking early. I need my sleep!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Once Upon a Midnight Dream....



Holiday Season Message to the Tenants of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village from Tishman Speyer (A Fantasy in One Act)

Dear ST/PCV tenants:

We at Tishman Speyer realize that we've been on the wrong footing with our Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village tenants for a while now. We admit that our management skills regarding this property and you, the tenants, have been sorely lacking. We also admit that we made a mistake in acquiring this property for such a lofty, credit-busting sum as 5.4 billion dollars. Nevertheless, what's done is done. Now, as the new year approaches, we have decided to turn over a new leaf, as it were, and rework our relationship with you and set in place a new commitment of service and dedication.

We will value all tenants--the market rate tenants, as well as the rent stabilized tenants. This means that market rate tenants will not see exorbitant raises in their leases and that rent-stabilized tenants will not have to fear unwarranted Golub notices or spying, via Key Cards, to make sure they are where they are supposed to be.

We will not cultivate an attitude toward our seniors of waiting with impatience to see them move on to the great beyond so that we can turn their apartments to market rate ones. We particularly value our seniors who have worked and struggled in this city, and have brought up ST/PCV families here. These seniors are the golden treasures of our complex, and we wish them many healthy and prosperous years to come. Seniors, we will always be there for you and your concerns.

Oh, and those Key Cards--forget about them! We are doing away with them and going back to the traditional method of opening doors--with a key. No more will you have to drudge over to the far end of Stuyvesant Town at Ave C to pick up a card for yourself or your guest, and wait among the crowds--or worse, be shut out half an hour before closing because the staff there do not want to work overtime.

We will work closely with the Tenants Association and form a partnership with them, so that all the issues that affect you--from laundry room problems to filthy hallways, from lack of heat to overheating--will be dealt with correctly and expeditiously. We will have management do periodic reviews of the interior of each building to make sure it looks like a decent place to live. Expect fresh coats of paint and easy to clean faux-marble floors where there now exists stinky and dirty industrial carpeting.

We make a commitment to you to listen to your problems and respond to your phone-calls, instead of ignoring them, as we have been wont to do. So, if we can't respond to you right then and there, expect a return call that day--or the next at the latest. We will stop outsourcing our billing questions to foreign countries where none of your questions can be answered, even after a dozen attempts.

We will decrease the amount of NYU students here. It's not that I, nor you, dislike students (we all were students once and some of us have children who are students), but we have begun to realize that having an influx of this type of transient element here is destabilizing to the tenant environment we wish to cultivate. There's a reason for the existence of dorms and Stuyvesant Town was never intended to be a dorm.

We will set aside 5% of newly available apartments to returning veterans from the Iraq War. Their rents will be the medium rent of current rent-stabilized tenants. This will be our company's way of not only saying thank you to these service men and women, but will reflect upon the original values of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, built as a haven for veterans after World War II. Furthermore, in an effort to continue the honorable tradition that Stuy Town was founded on, we will stop market rate tenancy at 50%. The remaining 50% will be secured for affordable middle-class housing, to include the veterans already mentioned. The middle class is the true heart and soul of New York, and we do not want to lose such a class forever.

The Oval Essentials have been a bust, and rightly so. We created these to sell the complex to upscale prospective market rate tenants, but these essentials have created division, while eliciting cruel laughter, also. We cannot do away with these spaces at this point, but we will free up the Essentials, with periodic open houses and a rotating plan of availability of use for all tenants.

To celebrate the New Year and our new commitment to you, there will be a New Year's Eve party for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village tenants at the Oval, catered by some of the best food establishments in the city. We promise not to serve soggy wraps or luke-warm lasagna at this event, and will provide fresh baked goods from Veniero's and De Robertis Pasticceria.

Unlike other events that were, we admit, used for promotional purposes, this one will not have our photographers or video people present, nor will we try to sell you anything. So goodbye to that ever-present red Verizon FiOS stand. This event is for you, period.

This will be an expensive party, to be sure, but it is our way of thanking you for putting up with all the construction this past year, the confusion, and the disregard we have had for you.

Above all, we want to establish a new partnership with you, as we value all of you, not only as tenants, but as human beings. We hope that as we show that we value and respect you, that you will return the favor. All of us, united, can move forward in these troubling times with decency and concern for our fellow man.

All this is our commitment to you.

Thank you, and have a Happy Holiday Season and a Great New Year,

Jerry & Rob Speyer

Monday, December 8, 2008

Alert: Rally to Repeal Vacancy Decontrol - Tuesday 6:30 - 8:30 PM at 64th St. and C.P.W.

From the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village
Tenants Association:

- All Buildings

Greetings!

Tenant Announcements

To know your neighbor is to keep your neighbor. Market Rate neighbors don't have a chance to stay your neighbor. Help give them that chance and help preserve affordable housing for future generations of all New Yorkers. Support, demand, and rally for the repeal of Vacancy Decontrol.

Tenant friendly State Senators now control the Senate
for the first time in 43 years.

The Gang of Three have settled, yielding Senate leadership to Malcolm Smith (D) of Queens. More below ...

The tide is turning. Make it happen!

NEXT WEEK!

12/9: Mass Rally to Repeal Vacancy Decontrol

Mass Rally to Save Rent-Regulated Housing!
Close the Vacancy Decontrol Loophole!

Tuesday, December 9th, 6:30pm-8:30pm - 64th and C.P.W.

ST/PCV-TA endorses this event and will have a delegation. Please help make it a big one by showing up.

Join a thousand tenants and allies in demanding our state politicians end vacancy decontrol and preserve rent-regulation.

Vacancy decontrol is the greatest threat to New York's affordable housing. This winter, we can end it and save 100,000 rent regulated units on the verge of elimination.

Through vacancy decontrol, landlords can take a vacant apartment out of rent-regulation when the rent-regulated tenant vacates.

Location:
Society for Ethical Culture
2 West 64th Street at Central Park West
1 train to 66th St; A, B, C, D to Columbus Circle
traducción espanol
wheelchair access
childcare provided

To RSVP, for more information, to volunteer, contact:
danielle AT housinghereandnow.org or 646-202-3962
http://newyorkisourhome.blogspot.com

****************
12/12: Annual New York State Policy Conference

Including a panel on repealing Vacancy Decontrol

Our allies at The Center for Working Families are hosting their annual New York State Policy Conference. Elected-officials, community advocates, constituency-based organizations and policy experts will gather to develop and unite around a common vision for progressive action in 2009. Join them and bring your voice to the table for housing justice.

"In This Together": Policies for the Common Good
Friday, December 12th, 9:00am to 3:00pm

Kimmel Center, New York University
60 Washington Square South, New York, NY
PLEASE RSVP Space is limited
Altaf@cwfny.org
(718) 222-5754, Ext. 240
Issue Panels include:
NYS POLICY SOLUTIONS FOR TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES * GREEN JOBS CLIMATE CHANGE * HOUSING * EQUITABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT JOBS * CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Speakers include:
Keynote: Steve Fraser, author, Wall Street: America's Dream Palace
Honorable Richard Brodsky, NYS Assembly
Andrea Batista Schlesinger, Drum Major Institute
Elisabeth Benjamin, Community Service Society
Annette Bernhardt, National Employment Law Project
Honorable Neil Breslin, NYS Senate
Carrie Brunk, New York Jobs with Justice
Lavon Chambers, Laborers Local 10
Peter Colavito, SEIU32BJ
Honorable Richard Gottfried, NYS Assembly
Adriene Holder, The Legal Aid Society, Tenant Member RGB
Keynote: Honorable Malcolm Smith, NYS Senate
Brad Lander, Pratt Center for Community Development
Myles Lennon, Urban Agenda NYC Apollo Alliance
Honorable Vito Lopez, NYS Assembly
Jim Tallon, President, United Hospital Fund
Bob Master, Comm. Workers of America
Frank Mauro, Fiscal Policy Institute
Mike McKee, Tenants PAC
Ed Ott, NYC Central Labor Council
Karen Scharff, Citizen Action of New York
Elizabeth Yeampierre, UPROSE NYC Environmental Justice Alliance
And many more!

***************

More on the Gang of Three settlement

More Albany News

---------------

Please forward this e-mail to a neighbor and print one out and give it to a neighbor(s) without Internet access. You will help us to save time and money and reduce our need to distribute flyers.

***********
Your Tenants Association is run exclusively by volunteers.
Please help defer the cost of legal, communication, and meeting expenses and save time and effort. Donate online.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Case of the Missing Cabbages Still Not Explained



The Thursday edition of TOWN & VILLAGE contained an article "Disappearing plants in ST explained," which addressed the mystery of the disappearing plantings in front of Stuy Town's Community Center. According to a representative of Tishman Speyer in the by-line free article, "The begonias were recently removed as scheduled in order to protect them from exposure to the cold. They will be replaced this week with plantings that thrive in winter months."

Yes, but it wasn't begonias we were talking about. The cabbages, which thrive in winter months, arrived one week and were gone the next. So why was the cabbage patch put there and removed so quickly? If it's a mistake, say it's a mistake, and be done with it. And, yes, now the barren piece of ground is covered by different plantings.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Case of the Missing TA



Have you heard from your Tenants Association? Have you seen its message board? Have you read on the main page of the TA's website an explanation of what the problem is?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Case of the Missing Cabbages



There were thousands of them, all over Stuyvesant Town. Cabbages being planted either for their aesthetic value or for food for the Speyers when the economy really tanks and even the multi-millionaires will have to wait on the soup line.

A couple of weeks ago, Stuy Town workers were planting a nice cabbage patch covering the entire island area picture above, in front of the Community Center. One week they were there--all new plantings--and the next week they were gone!!!

Here today, gone tomorrow. But why?

There is no reasonable explanation for planting something one week and removing the plantings the next. Work hours, time, money, sweat wasted.

So, some "planner" screwed up, or else a new fact emerged about the cabbage patches. Perhaps it was found out that they are an excellent breeding ground and food source for vermin--like rats and mice. (I don't think we have any bunnies hopping around here in Stuy Town.)

There are still cabbage patches all around Stuy Town, but some have mysteriously disappeared after being newly planted. The people have a right to know why! At least for a good laugh at management and confirmation that these chumps have little idea what they are doing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tenants Association Problems

The Tenants Association message board has been down for maintenance (supposedly, that's the reason) for what seems three weeks. Initially there were promises of it being offline just for several days, but then the end day kept being progressively pushed back when the expectation never met the reality. It's still down, as of today.

I know some basics about message boards, but at this point I've no idea what is keeping that board offline for so long. It could very well be that one person is handling it all and doesn't have much time to spare to work on it. Or something else may be up.

Whatever the situation, the Tenants Association has been recently catching some flack from a small group of people over its perceived inactivity in the face of numerous concerns of the people who live in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Knowing what I know about such matters, it is my educated guess that the persons doing the work at the Association are limited in their time to handle all the matters that are either placed before them or that they can see for themselves. Perhaps the Association needs something as simple as volunteers, so that the gears can move more quickly and expeditiously.

There are, however, some genuine communication and transparency problems that should be addressed. Though I belong to the Association, I don't have a grasp of how decisions in the organization are made and who makes them. When the Tenants Association has a meeting, it is usually with politicians, who listen and address tenants concerns. And nothing gets done. What the Tenants Association should have are periodic meetings (certainly once every three or four months) for just the tenants, in which problems are brought up and potential solutions and strategies discussed and some hopefully set in motion.

The idea of tenants picketing Stuy Town's leasing office is a good one, but there are no voices in a tenants group situation, or leaders, who can chart a course for something like that without there being some get-together of tenants as I've suggested above.

Some of the problems with the TA have to do with the transitory nature of a good number of tenants in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper. NYU students, for instance, could care less about what happens here in five years or in one year. I even wonder how many market rate tenants are sincere about living in this complex for its duration, or if they have a sense that they may be transitory, too, given how much they are at the mercy of the landlord regarding their rents.

TA meetings are chiefly attended by seniors, which is unfortunate. Not because these are seniors (seniors can give Tishman Speyer more fight and hell than the youngesters can), but because we need everyone at those meetings who can possibly make it. Perhaps many people don't come because they have surrendered to the feeling that nothing can be done and that no positive change can occur. Which is also unfortunate. Because I do believe that with numbers and with planning we can accomplish much to make Stuy Town and Peter Cooper a better community than it currently is and where Tishman Speyer wants to take it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tishman Speyer to Hit ST/PCV with Huge MCI for Plantings



No, I haven't heard anything official, but it is a certainty that Tishman Speyer will ask for a huge MCI for the plantings the company has been doing (and in many cases redoing) all year. This massive project involved at least 200,000 plants, 10,000 trees and more than 3,000 shrubs, and it is still continuing, with newer plants, trees and shrubs either replacing earlier plantings (some of which have died) or filling in areas that lack such greenery. According to MCI law, TS cannot ask for such a MCI unless it is combined with considerable repaving work--and, of course, we know that's been happening all summer, and now fall, long. While a MCI cannot raise rents of rent-stabilized tenants more by 6% per year, it can, if large enough, be spread over several years. So RS Stuy Town/Peter Cooper residents can look forward to an 18% increase in their rent, if this MCI is allowed to happen. Market-rate tenants are not safe from an increase, either, as surely Tishman Speyer will raise the rent on market-raters, justifying such an increase by the "renovations" it has done to the complex. Tishman Speyer will also use tales of property owner woe in these troubling economic times to try to rationalize even further that the huge MCI increase needs to happen to save their investment (actually, the investment of other people's money, but that's another issue).

The Tenants Association and tenants need to coalesce and fight this MCI request when it happens. These plantings were not necessary. In many cases, they were wrongly done and money was wasted (and still is) trying to correct mistakes. In other cases, older groundskeeping was purposefully let go to waste, so that an "improvement" would be mandated. (Case in point: the Oval area, which was beautiful when Met Life left, but deteriorated badly under TS management.) In many areas, pavings of roads and pathways also were not necessary, or if they were, they followed fairly recent previous pavings that were sloppily or inadequately done. Tenants should not have to pay for the bad work done by firms hired by the landlord.

The joke is that not long ago previous landlord Met Life decided to cut down trees in order to "open up the oval for a more expansive view." You can read about this project here. So continues the bizarre planning at Stuy Town/Peter Cooper. One project accomplishes one thing, the next project overrides that project, then a new project destroys that project, and on and on it goes. The only thing that is a constant is that the tenants suffer.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Democrats to Control State Senate - What We Must Do


A face you can trust? State Senator Tom Duane (D).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

The election is over. Next year the Democrats will control the State Senate. According to the frequent pronouncements from State Senator Tom Duane (who at tenant meetings would repeatedly raise his index finger--1--to state what was needed for Dem control of the Senate and salvation), this will mean that pro-tenant legislation will get passed and that we will have a tenant friendly Senate representing us. Stuy Town Reporter will try to stay positive for now, and take Duane and other Democrats at their word. But in order for them to be reminded of their promises, it's good to call or e-mail them every once in a while, beginning with now.

This is what we have been promised:

1) The repeal the Urstadt Law (which would place rent decisions back in the hands of the city, rather than the state)
2) A reversal of vacancy decontrol laws
3) The abolishment of MCIs that result in perpetual rent increases

In a Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village tenants' meeting on October 19, this was part of the exchange between tenants and Duane and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh:

Speaker #1: Senator Duane, how quickly will we see a repeal of the Urstadt Act?

Senator Duane: If Democrats succeed in winning the State Senate, it should happen in the first term.

Speaker #2: The law regarding MCIs (Major Capital Improvements) is flawed. There is a reverse incentive for doing things economically, because the more you spend on a project the more you can charge back to tenants. You could let a property run down completely and get an MCI to improve it and benefit from it. Also, regarding the rent exceeding $2,000 with a household income of $175,000; there have been contradictions. Please explain.

Duane: Up until now it has been slow going working with the DHCR [the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, which handles MCIs] but the Democratic Minority has been working with Senate Majority members on trying to reform the regulations on MCIs. Let me say that with Democrats in the majority, we would have more influence with the Governor’s agencies because the Majority would be controlling their budgets.

Assemblyman Kavanagh: The household income has to be $175,000 for two consecutive years. With a strong Democratic Majority in the Senate, we expect to be able to change that. The cut off rent would be increased and the household income would be raised to around $325,000. There would also be a very strong bill to change MCIs from permanent to temporary.

These are the contact e-mails:

duane@senate.state.ny.us
KavanaghB@ assembly.state.ny.us

Getting pro-tenant legislation passed is imperative. Otherwise, the middle-class will be completely driven out of the city (certainly Manhattan), neighborhoods will disappear, and all we will be left with are sliver condos dotted on the ground floors with Starbucks, banks, and mega drug stores. Don't let this happen to our city!

Next year it will be imperative to also get rid of Mayor Bloomberg. Not only did the Mayor spit with complete disregard on democracy (along with 29 city council members), but he is pals with real estate developers, including Jerry and Rob Speyer, who are running Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village (into the ground). In fact, the New York real estate website, THE REAL DEAL, reported that Jerry Speyer is a "frequent advisor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg." No wonder Bloomberg took a drop-dead Stuy Town/Peter Cooper hands-off approach to the sale of this complex. As long as Bloomberg is in office, we will continue to be screwed as middle-class tenants. Get this lying and manipulative Boston-born and bred bum out of office!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tishman Speyer Gives Up on ST/PCV -- Will Start Knocking Down Buildings Next Week



Finding out that another city code violation fiasco is looming (ST/PCV gas lines not in accordance with city regulations), Jerry and Rob Speyer of Tishman Speyer held an emergency meeting on Sunday in Mayor Bloomberg's weekend hideaway in the Bahamas with the New York City mayor, and came to the decision that it's just not worth it anymore to keep Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village running, as is, for current tenants.

Bloomberg has called for an emergency session of the CCC (Corrupt City Council) this Friday, and the immediate passage of eminent domain to get rid of tenants is assured. Only Peter Cooper Village resident Councilman Dan Garodnick is expected to vote no. The first demolition of what is now known as Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village could come as early as next week, paving the way for a brand-new mega housing complex, the likes of which has not been seen anywhere in the world.

As everyone knows when Tishman Speyer purchased Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village in 2006 for 5.4 billion dollars, it was the land property that was of most value, not the buildings on the property. The far-thinking Tishman Speyer already has plans for the mega complex, to be named Speyer City. "These plans were drawn up with others, such as condo conversion, way back when we were considering buying the property," remarked George Hatzmann, Tishman Speyer's managing director of ST/PCV. "Now, in this emergency, we've taken these plans out of the mothballs, so to speak, and are going to proceed to implement them in a hasty and disorganized, but ultimately beneficial to us, manner."

When finished, Speyer City will have 100 massive glass towers, each shooting 70 stories into the sky. The borders of Speyer City will contain exclusive boutiques, managed by female NY students and paid for by their parents, and a Starbucks and Duane Reade on each corner. Currently, there are over 25,000 residents of ST/PCV. Speyer City is designed to have 150,000 tenants, making it the most populous housing complex in the world--and undoubtedly the most luxurious.

"We really have to advance expeditiously on this," added Hatzmann, "just in case the election gives the state senate a tenant friendly majority next year and the mayor doesn't get re-elected to his illegal third term."

Buildings along the perimeters of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village will be the first to be torn down. As for the central area, "We are just going to blow up everything in the middle and get rid of it in one fell swoop," Hatzmann said. Vito's Construction Company, NJ, and Salvatore's Demo, Bay Ridge, will handle the demolishing, and 500 non-documented Mexican workers will do the sweeping.

What about Stuyvesant Town's renowned fountain that has been such focal point of interest and is always featured in ads for prospective market rate renters?

"We will build an even more spectacular fountain with the generous donation of the Tisch family," replies Hatzmann. The Tisches already have a fountain named after them in Washington Square Park and this one will be called Tisch Two, or, affectionately, "TT."

The current Oval area, to be renamed Oval Speyer, will also house spectacular entertainment facilities, including a 5,000 seat IMAX theater (Speyer Theatre) and a mini-circus, Le Cirque Robert, featuring year-round performances by the clown ensemble, Bozo's Billions. Access to Oval Speyer will be on a membership basis ($2,500 initiation fee/$200 per month membership fee).

Mayor Bloomberg commented to Daily News Real Estate brown-nose reporter Jason Sheftell on the forthcoming mega complex and the removal of current tenants.

"This will be a massive evacuation of the tenants," Bloomberg related to Sheftell,"who will be warehoused in the facilities of an abandoned mental asylum, Happy Pilgrim Hospital, in Staten Island until we can find proper housing for them. Current market rate tenants will get preference in Speyer City once it's finished, but of course their rents are expected to more than double, considering the true luxury living that will be put in place here."

What about the rent-stabilized tenants, who currently constitute 65% of the population of ST/PCV? "If they can't afford Manhattan, then they really have no business here," Bloomberg stated. "The city will be building affordable housing somewhere in the far reaches of Brooklyn and Queens, and I'm sure we can accommodate all rent-stabilized tenants there."

Current tenants will be driven over to the Staten Island facility, courtesy Stuyvesant Town's many fast-driving golf carts. Each tenant will be allowed one carry-on baggage per person. The evacuation process, which will run day and night, is expected to take two weeks. Any kids lost along the way are not going to be the city's problem or concern. "Just make sure you hold onto them," the Mayor remarked. "The city can't be responsible for your negligence."

In the event that the evacuation will take longer than two weeks, Stuyvesant Town's four dumpsters will be called in for extra duty, and the remaining residents thrown in and hauled away. In keeping with current policy, dumpster use will occur between 2:30AM and 4:30AM.

And what of the complex's many seniors, for whom such a move can prove particularly traumatic, if not fatal? "Well," opined Mayor Bloomberg, his face souring, according to Sheftell, "you have to die some time, so it may as well be now."

Dogs will not be allowed in the Staten Island facility. ("It's going to be too packed with humans to allow for animals," stated Hatzmann. "And, besides, we're tired of amateur photographers taking pictures of dogs and what dogs do naturally.") So under the city's new "Go Green and Waste Not Policy" dogs will be given over to restaurants in Chinatown where they can be cooked and served as "Lux Peking Duck." In an odd demonstration of Tishman Speyer's by-now legendary bizarre planning, there will be a dog run set up near the former Staten Island mental asylum, despite the absence of dogs.

All is not doom and gloom for ST/PCV residents, however. "Each tenant will get a plant of their choice to take with them to the Staten Island facility, " said Hatzmann. "Treated and watered well, these will be nice momentos for tenants to have of the time they spent with us in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village."

When Rob Speyer was asked if he had any parting words to tenants, a beaming Speyer said:

"Yes--so long, suckers!"

------------------
Below: Staten Island's abandoned mental ward, Happy Pilgrim Hospital, will be quickly restored to its former beauty in time for the first arrival of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper tenants. Yes, residents, I know what you are saying to yourselves: "Peace and quiet at last!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gas Troubles



Three buildings in Stuyvesant Town--522, 524 and 526 20th Street--have been without gas since last Monday, October 20th. It appears that a tenant in one of the buildings alerted Stuyvesant Town to a smell of gas hanging in the air. The Fire Department arrived and confirmed that there was gas leak somewhere, which caused the shutdown of gas in all three buildings. Teams of contract plumbers, each escorted by a security guard and a locksmith, had to enter all apartments to begin a phase of installation of exterior shut-off values to the kitchen gas pipes and the removal of existing gas connections to residents' stoves. If a door to a resident's apartment was locked by a top, non-Stuy Town lock, the lock was broken to allow the gas team to enter.

Based on statements from the gas teams, residents were hopeful that the problems would be fixed by Wednesday, but that turned out to be, no surprise, a false hope. As of the following Monday night, October 27th, the work doesn't appear to be any closer to being finished, though landlord Tishman Speyer has informed tenants through the screen intercom system that "the first phase of work has passed testing."

With no gas, residents have no way to cook food or boil water, and must resort to a microwave, if they have one, to heat food. In the Election Room near 1st Ave, Tishman Speyer has been providing free dinner and breakfast for residents of the affected buildings, catered by Bruno's Deli, but dispensed with the breakfast by the end of the week.* At dinner time, the better food is quickly gone, leading residents to hustle over as soon as chow time begins (6PM) in hopes of getting a full meal. Last week sodas and canned beverage teas were provided, as well as bottled water, but today, Monday, only water was available.

No gas also means that residents of the affected buildings have no way of drying laundry in their buildings.

Obviously, the patience of residents is rapidly ebbing away.

Tishman Speyer's gas troubles may be far more impacting than the trouble at these three buildings. According to a quote on the Lux Living website, one of the plumbers informed a tenant that the gas line connections to apartments in the tenant's building were "illegal." This instantly brings to mind Tishman Speyer's recent pressurized wall fiasco. If the gas line connections to all apartments in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village are illegal, then the complex may well see a massive plumbing project that will make the pressurized wall problems seem trivial by comparison.

* Update: Tuesday, Oct. 28th. Residents were informed after 9AM via the screen intercom that breakfast was being served today, Tuesday, from 7AM to 9AM. In reality-- "had been served." Sorry if you missed it, folks.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

No More Free Electricity



As we wrote here in August, and suspected, Tishman Speyer will begin installing meters inside Stuyvesant Town and Peter Copper Village apartments, and have residents pay for their own electricity. An article in today's NY Post gave some details: "The metered system is expected to be announced to the complex's 19,000 residents in the next few days. It will be rolled out as part of a larger plan to reduce overall energy usage by 20 percent over the next three years."

Though the article doesn't mention it, there may be a possibility that Tishman Speyer will have to slightly lower rents by law, as this new metered system will take away a previous free offering. If this is so, there's a chance that residents who conserve energy may actually wind up paying a bit less rent each month, even with the additional electrical charge. But as of now, it is unclear whether a rent reduction will occur, and if it does, what that reduction will be. Rent stabilized residents who had a choice of installing air-conditioning must be particularly peeved, as when they made that choice (which raised their rent) they factored in free electricity.

While Stuy Town Reporter is not adverse to energy saving, it has to be noted that Tishman Speyer is most definitely "going green" (in more ways than one!) to put in place cost-saving elements in running this complex, even at the expense of its tenants. The recently installed Mac-Gray washing machines and dryers are a part of this greening of ST/PCV.

Oval Lounge Attack Confirmed



Today's Town & Village newspaper confirmed that there was, indeed, a violent incident at the exclusive party for brokers held at the Oval Lounge last week, October 16th. Quoting a police source: "It was a short and sweet arrest. One guy hit the other guy on the side of the head with a bottle." The victim suffered injuries to the left side of his head.

Of interest, when the possibility of violence at the Lounge was brought up on the Tenants' message board, with regard to alcohol being served (which it can be if a catered event has a server with a liquor license), a naysayer scoffed at the apprehension.

Well, it happened. Add another black mark to the Tishman Speyer ledger. An embarrassment for the company, to be sure.

Of course, should the Oval Lounge prove the attendance failure it currently is, Tishman Speyer may well want to hold Fight Clubs inside that can be safely viewed outside through the Lounge's glass windows. I'd go and see that!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oval Essentials--a Bust?


Top: The lights are on at Oval Film, but aside from an American Leisure employee, no one is there. Below: Oval Lounge doesn't show much more life, either.



-----------------------

The premiere week of the Oval Essentials has answered one question: Will the Essentials prove so popular that there won't be space to let in all members?

Judging by the extreme low turnouts on Monday and Tuesday, the answer is a resounding NO. Each time Stuy Town spies passed by an Essential, they saw minimal use, in many cases no use, with only a black-clad American Leisure employee standing around, doing nothing and looking very bored. The most used Essential was, no surprise, Oval Kids, but even there the action wasn't impressive. Oval Film was dead, and Oval Lounge almost dead, with, at one time, a lonely member or two playing billiards. Oval Study was occupied, now and then, by what looked like a couple of NY students, but empty otherwise.

Undoubtedly the weekends will generate more members making use of the Essentials, but if this type of attendance continues, watch for Tishman Speyer to change Oval Lounge to Oval Starbucks and Oval Film to Oval Blockbuster. At least some income, and movement, may be generated with such transformations.

Tishman Speyer has put in a lot of effort and money expenditure into these Essentials, of which they appear to take a special pride. But now the Essentials stand cold and basically abandoned, a sorry spectacle of a misbegotten plan.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stuyvesant Town Report Exclusive! Oval Lounge Party Time


A wall of sophisticated plastic pine trees separates the revelers of Oval Lounge from the low-class peons outside.
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We're not sure if either of the Speyers (Jerry or Rob) turned up in this evening's party-time exclusive at Oval Lounge, but we do know who this private party was for. Brokers. Yes, brokers.

So Stuy Town workers and American Leisure sweated their you-know-whats to get everything in order, outside along the Oval and inside the "Essentials," for a bunch of brokers. Not only was the work fierce to get everything reasonably perfect on time, but the presence of security was at an all time high. We counted three security guards in front of Oval Lounge, three more placed between the Lounge and the 14th Street Loop, and two closer to 1st Ave. A security car hovered near the kid playground, not far from the Lounge, and, for sure, other security personnel were at other points in the complex. Added to this was the presence of black attired American Leisure staff, who were placed in front of both playgrounds, undoubtedly to help guide any brokers who should get disoriented in the Stuy Town maze. (Although an Oval is an oval.) Anyway, isn't it nice to know where your landlord, Tishman Speyer, places its security priorities? Not for you, but for brokers. (I'm sure that the very visible security presence was also mandated to impress [fool] the brokers into thinking that Stuy Town actually has such a presence.)

Oh, and we saw security--now hold onto yourselves--actually tell bicycle riders to get off their bikes and walk them through the area around Oval Lounge. So, enforcement of the "no bicycle riding" rule comes only when the brokers, or other hotshots, are in town. Another suitably insulting to tenants priority for Tishman Speyer.

Now, you may be asking why is Tishman Speyer going through all this trouble for a group of brokers if sales of market rate apartments are going very well for TS, which is what TS claims? Good question.

One answer would be that sales are not that good, but another answer could be that TS wants to generate a waiting list (or close to a waiting list), to then raise the price of market rate apartments even higher than they are because, according to the spin, Stuy Town is a hot rental property with many people desperate to get in. So be very glad you could get that one bedroom for $5,000. There's a line in back of you eager to pay $6,000!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oval Film - Legal?



Yesterday, as part of its open house, Oval Film was showing IRON MAN from the recently released DVD. Now unless Tishman Speyer/American Leisure received a license to show this film, its showing was illegal. Here's the lowdown on exhibiting films from DVD, as addressed by Richard Linderman on the NJ Law Blog:

How often have you seen the FBI warning screen preceding a movie and wondered, does this warning apply to me? A common issue raised by community associations is whether the association can show a motion picture or DVD at a site within the association, possibly the pool, clubhouse, or community room. The Federal Copyright Act, Title 17, U.S.C. Section 101(1) and Section 106 make it unlawful to show a film in public without the explicit permission of the film’s copyright owner. Renting or purchasing a cassette or DVD from the local video store or library gives the customer the right to view the film, but not to show it in public. The Copyright Act defines “public” in this context as “any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” According to Senate Report # 94-473, Page 60; House Report number 94-1476, Page 64, public performances of movies are illegal unless they have been authorized by license. Even “performances in ‘semi-public’ places such as clubs, lodges, factories, summer camps and schools are ‘public performances’ and subject to copyright control.” Furthermore, both for-profit corporations and non-profit organizations must secure a license to show videos, regardless of whether an admission fee is charged. Non-compliance with the Copyright Act is considered infringement and can carry steep penalties. Unlicensed exhibitions are federal crimes and can subject the association to a penalty ranging from $750.00 to over $100,000.00 per exhibition for knowingly violating the Copyright Act. Even inadvertent violators of the Copyright Act are subject to substantial civil penalties ranging from $750.00 to $30,000.00 for each illegal showing, plus other possible penalties under the Copyright Act.

Tishman Speyer/American Leisure would have to get a license from the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation to exhibit DVDs in Oval Film. Does it have such a license? Will those who rent out the space for private movie parties have such a license?

And what about the exhibition of sporting events? Gasp, there may be some trouble for Oval Film here, too (and Oval Lounge). A license may likewise be needed, depending on whether the event is considered public or private, a commercial venture or not, and if it's exhibited on a monitor larger than 55 inches.

Now you may be thinking that Tishman Speyer and company would certainly dot their "i"s and cross their "t"s, but don't forget the recent pressurized wall fiasco, in which TS was caught red-handed not following city building code rules.

So stay tuned. Who knows? We may see the FBI invading Stuy Town soon!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oval Kids Not Kid Safe!



I took a tour of all the Oval Essentials today. While there is much to write about, I want to focus on this issue tonight. It concerns a safety problem in Oval Kids.

There are various shelf doors, kid-level, about the place and all of them have metal handles with sharp right-angle ledges. Any child that accidentally hits one of these handles with his or her head may suffer a cut, if not a serious injury (let's say to the eye). I'm going to report this to the Essentials staff (American Leisure), but I would also urge others to do likewise. These handles must be changed!

Otherwise, the area seems safe, though I don't know how secure the glass walls are if a kid goes running or tripping into them. So, aside from those handles, Oval Kids appears safe, but is very noisy. It's really a kid madhouse, with poor acoustics to dampen the noise. I don't think an adult can last longer than half an hour in there, if that.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hurry! Hurry!


Saturday afternoon and workers are rushing to finish Oval Kids in time for tomorrow's open house at 11am. Can they make it in time?
-----------------------------------------------------------

None of the Oval Essentials are still 100% complete, but today marked the start of open house for two Essentials--Oval Study and Oval Film--with Oval Lounge and Oval Kids holding open houses tomorrow. Remarkably (well, not really) Oval Kids is way behind schedule, with the patio still a mess and the interior an equal mess. If this opens tomorrow, it may well be called Oval Death Trap, as surely parents will have to watch out that their kids don't trip over work either sloppily done or still not done. So bring your cameras and collect yourselves in front of Oval Kids between 11am and 2pm to see how many accidents you can manage to catch in the making!

Meanwhile, just so you peasants know, the patio areas of the Oval Essentials are NOT FOR YOU. Members only. Get it!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Power On For Oval Essentials


Tishman Speyer requested tenants to turn off unnecessary lights and appliances to conserve energy, but gives a full glow to a closed and empty Oval Lounge, with even the HD TV set on. Must be part of the sales pitch.
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The Oval Essentials (limited to 1,000 essential paying members) are going to be premiering soon, but two of them--Oval Lounge and Oval Study--are just about done and very viewable through top/bottom glass windows. Despite not being open, all the Essentials are now fully lit and glowing, with even the Lounge's HD flatbed screen turned on to some finance channel. (The Bloomberg Channel perhaps?--and I'm serious.) It seemed just the other day that landlord Tishman Speyer was asking tenants to conserve energy, but as already proven with TS' rental office on 1st Ave, the conservation of power is not something the landlord thinks about as being aplicable to the company. Just the peasants should follow these requests.

In walking around at night, checking out these Essentials, I had several impressions.... Tishman Speyer has permanently removed the oasis-like feel of the Oval by introducing four brightly lit commercial concerns in the heart of Stuy Town, and making the place feel like a condo project in Queens. And, yes, these are commercial enterprises, as there is a charge to enter them, and they will be rented out to interested parties. Their presence is not unattractive, however, at least at this point when they are empty, and each Essential gives a perspective to the length of the Oval that wasn't there before. Problems are sure to rise with use, however. I feel sorry for the tenants who live near these Essentials, particularly the Lounge, as they will have little peace until the Essentials close for the day, which could be as late as 11pm. It's possible that when rented, the Essentials will be open later than that. Each Essential has a patio area, which again means noise for the tenants near the Essential if the patios will be heavy used. (And just think of the horrors that these tenants had to endure this summer with all the construction noise! They really should have gotten a rent decrease during this torturous time.) The Essentials are small, so that, if popular among the select 1,000 members, there's going to be a problem with fitting everyone in comfortably. Oval Study is going to particularly tight, and already one sees how bunched up the four computers are, sitting on a very small round table. Each Essential juts out with a glass roofing, and one wonders if this is ever going to be a safety issue should a branch, or some other object, fall on this glass.

According to Town & Village newspaper, there's going to be an open house of the Essentials from October 11 to 19, excepting October 16, when all Essentials will be closed. I'm not certain if this is accurate information, as there's been an e-mail sent out from the Essentials' crew that the open house will be for guests of Essential members. We'll just have to see what the situation will be. If open to anyone, it may the only time most of us will get a chance to feel the places out. Somehow, I don't think we will be impressed, but I do want to check out that mini-theater at Oval Film.

Below, Oval Study. Note the computers bunched up on the right.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Overturning the Term Limit Law

No way, unless it's taken to a citizen referendum. Don't let Bloomberg get away with this. He has been planning this before the current economic meltdown, but is now using the meltdown as an excuse to give himself a third term. If he wants a third term, the people should decide 1) to overturn term limits and 2) to vote for him in the mayoral election next year.

Two numbers to call to make your feelings known:

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn: (212) 788-7210
Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village Councilman Dan Garodnick: (212) 818-0580

Garodnick is opposed to repeal of the law via the City Council, but the more support he has from his constituants, the better.

Oh, and here's a nice photo of Bloomberg and Rob Speyer at a high society event, with First Deputy Major Patti Harris in between:



When the sale of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper was happening and tenants requested input from Mayor Bloomberg to help middle-class housing in the city, he washed his hands of the entire affair, basically saying, "Drop dead, tenants" or, in Bloomberg-speak, "If you can't afford Manhattan, what the hell are you doing here?"

Bloomberg has done positive things for the city, for sure, but he and his adminstration have drastically changed the spirit and look of the Manhattan, driving out the middle class and turning homey neighborhoods into sliver condos with the same ground-level banks and expensive coffee shops. Dubai on the Hudson, it's called, and we want no part of it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bad Idea # 498?



In its effort to beautify Stuyvesant Town, landlord Tishman Speyer has begun to paint (yes, paint) the steps around the complex a bright gray. This could be a classic case of putting lipstick on a pig or at least on a complex that has the uninspired projects-like look of affordable middle class housing, which is what the complex was intended to be at its inception and design.

There was nothing wrong with the cement steps to begin with. They looked natural and part of the earthy and green tones of Stuy Town. But painting steps is not a good idea, because these steps will get heavy use, which means speedy paint wear, chipping and smudging. And just wait until the skateboarders have their fun. It's safe to say that pretty soon these freshly painted steps will look like crap and appear low-class looking, which cannot be what Tishman Speyer had in mind. In the event that this paint job will not work out to Tishman Speyer's satisfaction, there will be no way to go back to the original look with coats of paint layered over them. The only option in that situation would be to break up and remove the steps and put in new ones. More money, more noise. Does Tishman Speyer think these things through?

You don't have to answer that question.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Outrageous Lying NY Daily News Article on Stuy Town


NY Daily News real estate correspondent Jason Sheftell standing in front of a door that's a little more high class than the ones found in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village.

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If you live in Stuyvesant Town or Peter Cooper Village, you may be surprised to learn that we have 1) rent-controlled tenants and 2) that these tenants--or their rent-stabilized brothers and sisters--rent some apartments starting at $300 and up. Yes, $300. If you walk around the Oval, you also may be surprised to find out that it has "perfectly manicured lawns," and you also may be surprised that landlord Tishman Speyer has "improved community partnerships" and "upgraded playgrounds" (which were upgraded, but by previous owner, Met Life).

These fantasies and outright lies were put forth in today's Daily News by Jason Sheftell, the paper's real estate correspondent, in a shocking piece of puff that, while it gives nods to some of the complex's problems, manages to appear nothing less than a PR piece written by someone working for Tishman Speyer. Who knows? Perhaps Jason Sheftell is pals with Rob Speyer, or perhaps his friend is George Hatzmann, Tishman Speyer's Managing Director of NY Development, who is pictured in the article beaming in front of the Oval fountain, perhaps Sheftell wants some future job with Tishman Speyer, or just perhaps he doesn't know how to write a factual and accurate article on a community he is not a part of.

Whatever the story, shame on him, and shame on the NY Daily News for publishing something like this.

This pseudo-idyllic picture is particularly odious:

"Amid the controversy, children's laughter was all you could hear last Sunday at Stuyvesant Town's main square, called the Oval. Residents old and young sunbathed, played catch on perfectly manicured lawns, dipped their feet in one of New York's only large-scale fountains, shopped at an outdoor produce market, kibitzed on park benches and soaked in life at the greenest 80 acres of residences in all of New York City. You couldn't find disenchantment out there if you tried."

Who calls the Oval a "main square"? How many old residents does one ever see sunbathing? (I can think of only, at most, four, amid dozens upon dozens of young people.) Oh, and playing catch in the Oval, which is clearly not a perfectly manicured lawn (perhaps Sheftell was thinking of the artificial grass in the north playground?), is against Stuy Town rules, as is soaking one's feet in the fountain.

As for not finding disenchantment in Stuy Town out there (even if you tried)--did you actually try?

------------------------------

Sheftell's article also appears online at:

http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2008/09/25/2008-09-25_longtime_stuyvesant_town_peter_cooper_re.html

Contact for NY Daily News to voice your displeasure at the article and Mr. Sheftell:

Phone: (212) 210-2100
Letters to the editor: voicers@edit.nydailynews.com

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Sandman

The beautification of the 20th Street Loop continues, courtesy The Sandman:



Tenants nearby report that The Sandman comes at around 5:30 AM to loudly make his deposit. The price of beauty is never without cost.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rough Riders

So you are a landlord and want your grounds to look nice. You spend a good amount of money for maintenance. You want your property to look its best, not only for your tenants, but for the pride you have in the ownership of something that's attractive to look at. Well, if you were such a landlord, you wouldn't let your bozo golf cart/mini-vehicle riders do this to your grounds:





Some examples, and there are more, of the rough riders in Stuyvesant Town who mar any landscaping their vehicles cut through.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Stuyvesant Town Report Exclusive! Here's Mud in Your Eye!



Mud has arrived to the Oval. No, not the mud that's on the lawn, there's plenty of that to be sure, but Mud, the hipster "anti-establishment coffee machine of NYC's East Village." Since moving to Stuy Town many years ago, I've had the sense that Stuy Town is anti-establishment and now landlord Tishman Speyer has confirmed that by bringing Mud to our complex. Can't get any cooler than that. Thanks, Rob.

You can hardly miss the orange Mud truck as it sits on the south side of the Oval, right near the kid's playground. It was there yesterday, a bit vocal with its boom-box, but the music seems to be gone today, Saturday. (Damn, some senior citizen must have complained!)

Now, Mud can be a great idea, a great coffee, and I'm sure a portion of residents who find the coffee stores on 1st Ave or 14th Steet just too exhausting to walk to, will enjoy the perk of coffee and muffins at the Oval, as seen here:



.... But are we not losing sight of the fact that the Oval is now becoming a commercial property area? The forthcoming Oval "Essentials" are commercial ventures, hidden under the term "amenities," the Green Market is clearly a commercial venture, and now we are going to have an orange coffee/muffin truck standing at the Oval throughout the day. Nothing stops Tishman Speyer from putting in such movable commercial enterprises at other points in the Oval. (Though I do wonder about zoning laws.) Hey, wouldn't it be convenient to have a toilet paper truck at the north end of the Oval?! And what about a diaper truck on the other side of the above playground? Mom could really use that!

Mud also sells other stuff than just coffee and muffins:



No, those are not some resident's clothes hanging out to dry because the laundry dryers aren't working, those are cool T-shirts you can buy that look like you've worn them for ten years. Wearing these, Stuy Town hipsters can now pretend they are real "street" when they venture into the Lower East Side and meet up with fellow Yunnies and rich-kid NYU students who are also pretending they are street.

BTW, here is Mud's website. Now, tell me, ain't that cool?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Neglected Oval

It used to be the pride of Stuyvesant Town. The Oval. A central gathering place and focal point of a community. A fountain, a lawn, and an encircling border of trees, plants and flowers that made one feel so very separate from the madness of Manhattan. It was, indeed, an oasis. Tranquil and lovely.

This is what it was, but since Tishman Speyer took over as landlord of this complex, the Oval has been progressively neglected, so that now it is ugly beyond measure. Here is what Tishman Speyer's neglect has done to the Oval....

Flowers and plants were once abundant here:



And here:



And here, as in so many other places:



There was no bare ground here, just nice, well-maintained grass:



The lawn is now a tragedy. Even without rain, water bubbles up from somewhere below to infest the ground, which once upon a time was covered with, yes, nice healthy grass:





Overlooking the Oval is the new landscaping of dead trees and weird, excessive ugly plantings:



I have it from a good source that Tishman Speyer intends to deal with the Oval once other projects are finished. Once again, we will see workers slaving over an area of Stuyvesant Town, with the resultant mess and loss of access. Tishman Speyer has purposefully let the Oval deteriorate to open up the necessity of redoing the Oval. And yet it was so beautiful a few years ago, when MetLife's newly hired landscaper took to making the entire area aesthetically delightful. Responsible for the destruction of this artistic work, Tishman Speyer will attempt to give us a replacement. Given how horrid much of the landscaping has been under its administration, I can't say that any of us can look forward to what's ahead.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Non-Stuy Town Resident Terrorizes Community - Security Nowhere Around



We've received a couple of reports of a non-resident who walks her two large muscular dogs through Stuyvesant Town at will. "I was sitting in the Oval when I heard this savage barking coming not far away from where I was on the bench," reports one Stuy Town resident. "I turned to look and saw these two dogs, barely restrained by their owner, trying to get at a smaller Stuy Town dog. Luckily the owner, a 50-ish year-old woman in cut-off jeans, was able to draw her dogs away with some effort, but I was actually afraid for the Stuy Town dog, whose owner was also trying to hold back her dog from getting into a fight." Then, we received the above photo from another resident, who snapped it after seeing the woman make a lengthy journey through the Oval--and, yes, over the lawn--and then out of the complex via the 14th Street Loop. Our photographer wrote that other residents seemed very wary of these dogs, making sure to be out of their way as the dogs walked past them. In case you are wondering (and why should this be a surprise?), it was confirmed that there was no security within eyesight during the entire time this woman and her dogs toured Stuyvesant Town.

I'm not up on my dog breeds, but could those two be pit bulls or related to pit bulls?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stuy Town to Tishman Speyer: We're as Mad as Hell and We are Not Going to Take This Anymore!



I was going to write about something else today, but as I was going through the latest postings on the PCVST Tenants Association message board, I began to see a pattern emerge, a pattern of unified simmering rage against our landlord, Tishman Speyer, and the way things are being run (badly) in this complex. In one thread, fed-up market raters had enough of the administration not responding to their calls and e-mails about the pressurized wall debacle and were threatening a lawsuit. In another thread, an exasperated poster wondered why nothing was being done about a dumpster nearby his building, a dumpster the contents of which are removed at odd times in the night, including 3AM--this after Tishman Speyer promised to remove the dumpster in February 2008! In yet another thread, the renting of apartments to corporations was raised with outrage. Apparently this "hotel/motel" rental is generating the presence of company transients who are here one week/month and gone the next. Still another thread had an increasingly heated debate on the outcome of Tishman Speyer's overall plans for this community. Are we seeing the guaranteed end of affordable housing here and the lifestyle many of us knew or is there still hope in a fight against the overwhelming powers that be?

I have lived in Stuyvesant Town for a fairly long time. Not all my life, but for a good chunk of it. I and my neighbors who have lived here more than few years have never seen this place look so bad. We have never experienced this place so noisy, so filthy, so lawless. We have never seen a landlord either so ignorant of what is going on here (and how is this possible?) or so arrogantly disdainful of the complaints and numerous sufferings of his tenants.

Many of us have had enough. We are as mad as hell and we are not going to take this anymore.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Neglected Security



It's 10 pm. Do you know where your security is? It's 10 am. Do you know where your security is? Pick any time of day, and you can ask the same question and probably get the same answer: I don't know.

Over the past several months, there's been a noticeable decline in the visible presence of security, of "boots on the ground," particularly in the Oval where such a presence is desperately needed. Thankfully, there's been no major crime committed on the grounds (as yet).

There have been numerous reports of bicycle thefts, however, and such Stuy Town rules as no bicycle riding in the complex and no dog walking through the Oval lawn are being flagrantly ignored. Though on a very minor scale when compared with armed robbery or rape, these breeches have bred a sense of lawlessness in Stuy Town. When added to the miserable condition of the Oval lawn and its immediate surrounding landscaping, residents are talking and complaining about a breakdown in the management and maintenance of Stuyvesant Town.

In ye olden days (not that far distant actually), there was a brick security booth, of good size, at the southern tip of the fountain area. One would always find a security person inside, and he was able to monitor much of the Oval grounds from that vantage point. Then when the fountain was redone, a smaller booth, made of wood, appeared to the east of the fountain. Then, that disappeared, and a security office was crafted out of the building that will now be housing Oval Study. The new placement caused a reduction in the ability of a security officer to monitor most of the Oval because of distance and tree and plant growth that blocked the view. With the construction of Oval Study, a new wooden security booth appeared (see photo above) not far away, but still woefully positioned in terms of viewable access to the entire area of the Oval or even the smaller fountain area. Now, anyone can do anything they want around the fountain and not be seen by security, even if the booth is manned, which frequently it is not. (And to think that the rent deposit box is there, too! Hey, want some checks?)

What's going on? Posts on the PCVST tenants message board have addressed the issue, with a couple of facts emerging: Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town used to have about 80 security officers, but now that number is down to 50--a 40% reduction, as noted by board member nospinzone. This number, as an indication of what is out there at any one time, is cut down dramatically when shifts are taken into account. Apparently, also, a cadre of security officers left for other jobs, and Tishman Speyer has not been keen on hiring new security officers, putting many of its security hopes into electronic surveillance, which cannot help anyone at the moment a crime is being committed, of course.

From my experience, there's been a slight increase in the presence of security personnel of late.* I suspect it's directly related to the complaints emerging from the tenants message board over the lack of boots on the ground. But this is not enough. There has to be at least one security officer present in the Oval area, always. Just the way it used to be. And he has to be making the rounds of the Oval, rather than sitting in that dreary wooden box that is supposed to house him during his shift and from where he can see almost nothing.

[*8-29-08: Since this post, I've unfortunately seen a return to the sorry state of a security presence in Stuy Town. For three days in a row, whenever I walk through the Oval, I do not see any security. Pitiful.]

Saturday, August 23, 2008

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try Again and Again and Again....



Residents of Oval 21 were shocked to come back from work the other day and see the beautifully designed landscaping on the building's northern end gone and replaced by evidence of work crews digging up the ground--again. Yes, gone was the lovely jungle of dirt-crusted ferns and dead or dying newly planted trees that Mexican day laborers planted two months ago, and in their place was a tractor, an ugly fence that didn't even have the courtesy of saying "pardon our appearance," and signs of furious work all around.



This spot has been a particular bane for landlord Tishman Speyer, with scenes of periodic upheavals testifying to something amiss. Though it is believed important piping runs through that area, rumors persist that housed deep down is the beating heart of the idea of affordable housing, and that Tishman Speyer is doing its best to kill it and cover up the crime. I don't believe these rumors and just assume it's the typical mess that TS gets itself into whenever the company's improvements struggle against the natural order of things. Once work is finished (again), we can expect to see the return of the Mexican day laborers and an approximation of the stunning foliage that was already there.

Coming up on this blog: Pressurized walls, the dog issue, the connections between Mayor Bloomberg and Tishman Speyer.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stuyvesant Town Report Exclusive! The Rob Speyer Magical Mystery Tour


Above: Exclusive photo of The Rob Speyer Magical Mystery Tour taken by one of our photographers, who apologizes for its poor quality. Speyer (pictured in the tan suit to the left of center) is the President and Co-CEO of Tishman Speyer and without doubt one of the visionaries of what's been happening in the Stuy Town complex and what will happen.

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As reported by a member of Stuyvesant Town message board, Tishman Speyer President and Co-CEO Rob Speyer and a group of about nine suits (minus one suit due to an arm in a sling) descended Tuesday morning upon Stuyvesant Town for a tour of the complex. The member accosted the group as they passed him by, telling them what a horrible job they were doing, to which Rob Speyer answered, "Thank you." According to another resident, the group headed around the Oval and into the eastern area of Stuy Town in an examination of what appeared to be, generally, problematic front spaces at some Stuy Town buildings. Notations were being taken down by a nice young man onto large sheets of building diagrams.

It is hoped that whatever improvements will be made as a result of the tour will actually make the place look better rather than worse. It is hoped these improvements will not cost tenants further rent increases. It is hoped that while examining certain problematic areas in Stuyvesant Town, the general chaos and shabbiness of the entire complex was noted. Dare we hope, dare we dream?

The tour should have included the inside of buildings, too. A check of the carriage room, a look into the elevators, the hallways, the laundry rooms, the stairs, an examination of the residents' doors and the paint that so easily chips away. Perhaps next time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Insult of Oval Essentials



They are now called "Oval Essentials." Part of the Oval amenities due for completion sometime in September, these spaces comprise the Oval Lounge, Oval Kids, Oval Film and Oval Study. They are strategically placed at four corners of the Oval, the central hub and lifeblood of Stuyvesant Town. Unless you live on the borders of Stuy Town and never go into the interior, you will be unable to miss these new spaces as you walk by. And, don't forget, they are now "essential," so if they are not a part of your life, you are less of a person that you thought you were. What's the matter? Can't afford the small initiation fee and monthly charge?

Tishman Speyer, in creating these "Essentials" and mandating a charge for them, furthers the division of the Stuy Town community into those who have and those who haven't. We are already seeing how different classes of people were created and/or nurtured by TS decision making and "improvements." We now have the following cliques of people, not all actuallized since TS came into the picture, of course, and some interchangeable: 1) rent stabilized tenants, 2) market rate tenants, 3) NYU tenants, 4) tenants without dogs, 5) tenants with dogs. At various times, members of each group bitch about the other group, creating bad feelings and rifts in what used to be a unified community. Now we are going to have two more cliques (although one of these should be rightfully called "the peasants"): those who have the "Essentials" and those who don't.

It is easy to foresee the looks of loathing that will be directed at those enjoying the "Essentials," as those without the essentials will be going to or returning from work. Or the dejected looks of our community's retirees on fixed incomes who will not be able to partake of those essentials, though they've been around long enough to remember when all of Stuyvesant Town's true essentials were available for free to everyone here.

It is also easy to foresee the kids who will be nagging their parents without essentials to join the "Essentials" because of Oval Kids. Perhaps some of their friends will have essentials, but they won't. See Jack cry. See Jane weep. See Jack cry some more. See Jane weep some more. See Jack and Jane's parents join Oval Essentials!

I truly feel sorry for those parents who, on a tight budget, may not be able to afford these essentials, which will leave their kids feeling as if they are in the poor house rather than in Stuyvesant Town, the "ultimate living experience in Manhattan."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

When Will Stuy Town Have Peace & Quiet Again?



New residents of Stuyvesant Town may be surprised to learn that there was a time when even on the weekdays you could wake up to the sound of birds chirping outside your window instead of jackhammers hammering and drills drilling. There was no 7AM wake-up call from Tishman Speyer, and life here was tranquil, an oasis in Manhattan that was true luxury living.

It would stand to reason that eventually all the construction we are seeing, and living through, will come to an end--but is that so? And if there is an end to it all, when will it occur?

Right now, the 20th Street Loop is being repaved, both the roadway and the sidewalks. Work is still not finished, though it looks as if just one week more may be needed to complete the project, if that. The noise, filth and disruption that tenants in that area have had to endure for many weeks will now be the experience of another loop in the Stuy Town complex. So the suffering continues. At least there's a limited amount of loops to play with.

The four Oval amenities that are being crafted out of four corner buildings in the Oval are still not finished. Sometime in the middle of September they should be done, which will be a great relief to the tenants that live around those spots. Still, trouble may be brewing when these Oval amenities (called now "Oval Essentials") open up and produce, perhaps, nighttime crowds that will give little peace to the tenants nearby.

The dumpsters. There are two large dumpsters near the borders of Stuyvesant Town that are emptied in the middle of the night (like past 1AM) and make life a living hell for the tenants in those areas. No relief is in sight, despite the promises of Tishman Speyer to move the dumpsters to a garage facility where, hopefully, the noise will be considerably less intrusive to tenants.

Somehow, however, one has hope. But one should not hope too much. It is very possible, if not probable, that Tishman Speyer has another construction/disruption project in the works, if not several of them. (And if a few can double up as MCI increases--why the hell not, according to TS.) As has been mentioned on the Stuy Town Tenants Association message board, a good possibility exists that meters for gas and electricity will be installed in each apartment for the obvious purpose of relieving Tishman Speyer of paying the gas and electric bills of their tenants. (Free gas and electric has been an honored tradition in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper since the complexes were built, but Tishman Speyer has been eradicating tradition with a vengeance.) Rumors abound that a gate will be built around Stuyvesant Town--another project with a 7AM wake-up call. Perhaps new sidewalk lamps and illumination will have to be installed, because, after all, the overkill of newly planted trees and plants has created too many shadows and dark nooks and crannies where none existed before. And the central Oval area has been ignored for the entire summer and is crying out for rehabilitation, which, beware, may include a white picket fence around it.

So, you see, there can always be something that still needs to be done, some new project thought of by a man sitting in a nice suit in a nice high-rise office that justifies his nice salary.

The irony is that all of this may be a moot point down the line. If, as some predict, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper are eventually going to be demolished to make way for 60-70 floor towers, all our sufferings and all the work and all the man power will have been in vain. But don't bet for one moment that whatever MCI increases paid for such work will be retracted.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Ultimate Living Experience


Above: Stuy Town in better days. A security booth to the right of the fountain, typically manned 24 hours a day, is now gone, leaving the security presence in that area at an all time low. The Oval lawn was well maintained, but now is filled with pockmarks, exposed dirt, puddles and mud. Dogs, previously forbidden in Stuy Town, are now investigating and relieving themselves on the Oval lawn where lie itchy sunbathers, though dog walking on the lawn is against ST regulations. Aggressive noise from the continual construction work being done throughout Stuy Town and around the formally tranquil Oval intrudes from 7AM on.

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This is what the splash page of the official Stuyvesant Town website states about the complex:

"There is so much to love in Stuyvesant Town. With spacious and contemporary apartments, an unrivaled host of amenities, access to over 500 social events, and all within downtown's most desired location, Stuyvesant Town represents the ultimate living experience in Manhattan."

The truth is a bit different. The apartments may be spacious if you go by certain box-like Manhattan standards, but some of them became less so with the addition of pressurized walls (meant to fit in an extra bedroom) and then the removal of said walls because of building code violations, to be replaced by a newer plan that provides even less space for the living room, out of which the new bedroom was carved. As for contemporary, well, only your designer would know, but the buildings themselves are clearly project-like, inside and out, and poorly cleaned and maintained by understaffed workers. "Unrivaled host of amenities"--they haven't arrived yet, and from the looks of it, they will be a joke. (More on these amenities in a future blog entry.) "500 social events"? I have no idea where the landlord Tishman Speyer got this figure or what it constitutes. Perhaps TS just opened up Time Out Magazine and started counting any events listed there. After all, you do have access to anything in Manhattan, just as a transient does who lives in the Men's Shelter on 1st Avenue and 29 St.

So we have the lies and we have the truth. And the truth is pretty ugly, as this blog will reveal.