Monday, December 28, 2009
- Jerry and Rob Speyer will come up with a surprise deal, with Chinese investment, to hold onto Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. The Media will start reporting about "the comeback" of the Speyers in ST/PCV in late 2010.
- In late 2011, Tom Duane will tell the Tenants Association of ST/PCV that he is "very, very sorry, really, really very sorry" that the NY Senate was not able to renew rent protection laws.
- Within five years the first building in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village will be knocked down to make way for a 60 floor high-rise. This will be followed by eradication of more old buildings. The remaking of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper will be a ten-year plan, but will take an additional four years to accomplish. By then, most original rent-stabilized tenants will either have moved out because of continual construction noise or have been killed by falling bricks.
- Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper will be renamed Speyer City. The most magnificent building in the complex will be called Speyer Tower. Mayor-for-Life Bloomberg will attend the commemoration, with Jerry and Rob Speyer beaming by his side. Bloomberg will state that "this is a great day for New York" and herald Jerry and Rob "as exemplary citizens who make the city work."
- A horrible accident will occur on the walkway around the Oval involving a dog and a cyclist. The cyclist, racing madly to get his delivery of Chinese food on time, will ride into a long retractable leash, at the end of which is a dog. The cyclist will go flying, and the dog's head will go flying, too. Various lawsuits will arise out of this tragedy, but the cyclist, because he is an illegal immigrant, will not face any financial jeopardy. In fact, his medical costs and physical rehabilitation will be paid for by the taxpayers under the new Health Care Bill of 2010. He, in turn, will successfully sue Stuyvesant Town and the dog owner, and retire to a beach front mansion in Cancun, with 12 beautiful Latinas to cater to all his needs.
- Ziggy and Roundly Roger will get into a physical altercation at a Tenant meeting. 99.99% of those present will not know what the fight is about.
- It will be found that Stuyvesant Town's notorious dumpsters do not fit, nor work properly, in the special garage built for them along Ave C, causing their unwelcome return to the Ave C loop. Councilman Dan Garodnick assures tenants living near the dumpsters that the dumpsters will finally be moved by Summer 2010, but they are still around in the summer... in the fall... in the winter....
- Dog owners will finally get their desired dog run. Pieces of chocolate cake will appear mysteriously about the grounds every once in a while.
- An expose of Stuy Town security will reveal that when the blinds are down in the monitor room at the Management Office, no one is present.
- Tishman Speyer will request and receive a MCI for road and pathway repair to replace the faulty paving for which they already received a MCI.
- NYU journalism student Joy Garrido Ernanny will become very smitten with one Stuy Town blogger and plead with him to marry her. Already "taken," the blogger will have to continually ward off the persistent and passionate advances of the distraught Brazilian beauty.
- The missing plaque honoring MetLife's chairman F. H. Ecker and will still not be found. Rumors will persist that it is located in the same place as Jimmy Hoffa's body.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
As Jerry and Rob Speyer pride themselves on what they've done to Stuyvesant Town [The Speyers said they are proud of their work revitalizing Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Tishman Speyer has spruced up the grounds, adding bushes and flowers, new intercoms, a fitness center and a movie screening room.], the truth is that they have damaged this community and this property, probably forever. Everyone who has lived in Stuyvesant Town for a number of years, and who remembers how it once was, knows this to be a bitter fact.
The photo above, taken today, speaks for itself.
Monday, December 14, 2009
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The landlord and tenants of a vast New York City apartment complex have reached an interim rental agreement for 4,000 apartments hit with illegal rent increases, attorneys for the two sides said on Monday.
The interim deal affects apartments whose rents were raised to market levels from rent-stabilized levels in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, which were bought for $5.4 billion in 2006 by a joint venture of commercial real estate owner Tishman Speyer and the real estate arm of money manager BlackRock Inc.
The interim deal covers just January and February rent, but the two sides agreed to hire an independent third-party expert to determine a longer-term stabilized rent level.
The case has been closely watched in the New York property industry because other buyers of rent-stabilized apartment buildings planned to follow the same investment strategy of increasing rents to market levels.
New York's top court ruled on October 22 that rents on some rent-stabilized apartments had been raised illegally to market levels. The high court sent the case to back to the trial court to decide issues such as damages and rent levels.
To resolve the case out of court, the two sides have been negotiating a host of issues, including setting stabilized rent levels, control of the escrow account holding rent increases paid since March, damages, and identifying who would be eligible to participate in a class-action lawsuit against the landlord and the former landlord, MetLife Inc.
The iconic properties encompass 80 acres, 52 buildings and more than 11,000 apartments on the east side of Manhattan.
The tenants sued after the landlord announced plans to bring rents up to market levels and sell units as condominiums.
The properties have lost about $3 billion in value since they were acquired in 2006, mainly because of the U.S. commercial property bust, experts have said.
The two sides said in a joint statement that they had also reached agreement on a more inclusive, six-month pact covering "a wider range of unresolved issues." These include giving the tenants control over the escrow account and settling on the composition of the class in the class action. It did not address possible damages resulting from the ruling against the landlords.
The six-month agreement is contingent on consent by CWCapital, the special servicer acting on behalf of the property's senior lenders.
BlackRock shares were down 69 cents to $225.32 in afternoon trading.
From Bloomberg.com this addition:
Current and future tenants will also be treated as rent stabilized.[Emphasis mine.]
Tishman and BlackRock also said today they reached “a more inclusive, six-month agreement covering a wider range of unresolved issues beyond those addressed in the interim agreement.”
That agreement would extend rent adjustments to June. It needs to be approved by CWCapital, the special servicer of loans on the complex, the statement said.
All of this is historic for New York City and affordable housing.
I love the no comment, once again, from Bud Perrone.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The issue of the dumpsters has gone on long enough. The noise of these screeching monsters is unbearable at night and in the very early morning hours. For too long management, our tenants association and our politicians (yes, including Dan Garodnick and his office) have passed the buck on this, explaining why things are the way they are, and that relief is just around the corner, which it never is. Apparently, the big wait now is on a permit which will allow the use of the entrance way to the dumpster garage that was built along Ave C. Why wasn't this permit taken care of when the concept of creating a garage for these dumpsters began to flourish? Who dropped the ball significantly on this--and is still dropping the ball? Why is this horrid noise level allowed to continue when it is AGAINST THE LAW? Why is Tishman Speyer not being fined for every instance of the noise rising above the legal level? There should be no excuses. And no noise. (BTW, I've a feeling that this dumpster garage, if ever used, will be a disaster, like a lot of things Tishman Speyer attempts.)
Complaints to the Department of Environmental Protection (which deals with noise issues) can now be filled out online.
Dan's office number is 212-818-0580, and there's also an online form for city complaints you can fill out.
ST/PCV Management Office's number is 212-420-5000. (Good luck getting through; best times are in the morning.)
I'd also suggest contacting NY's newspapers and local TV stations. It would be great if someone from the local news could check this out, with cameras and open audio. That would be a significant eye-opening (and ear-opening) exposé.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
It was overflowing. Seats taken, with packed standing crowds in the back. The biggest turnout of tenants I have seen, with a few bloggers and NY journalists taking note. Of the speakers, the biggest applause was given Dan Garodnick, and rightfully so. The guy presents himself well, speaks clearly and with purpose, and has represented this neighborhood well. The one troubling spot in his speech: Garodnick stated that everyone knew that Tishman Speyer was paying too much for ST/PCV at 5.4 billion, but, a few sentences later, he dangled the hope that tenants could buy the complex. Well, if the tenants had bought the complex at their bidding price of 4 billion, we would have been screwed too.
Tom Duane--well, the crowd became hushed as he went through his mea-culpas ("I'm deeply, deeply, deeply sorry," etc.) and used a slew of disparaging terms about the State Senate. He admitted that this year was the worst of his political life. (Duane had also lost his mother during the summer.) Though Duane tried to finish up on an energizing note, mentioning that he's not quitting the fight, I didn't get a sense of verve and determination from him.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was also present, but her speech was too predictable regarding Stuy Town/Peter Cooper tenants, and then she launched into an unfortunate rah-rah list of things the Democrats are doing in Congress that would have been better suited for a campaign stop, not a tenant meeting.
Anyway, a very good get-together of tenants (both rent-stabilized and market-rate), with a positive vibe of better and greater organizing in the future.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
This is a view of Stuy Town at 14th Street:
I'd say the above looks like low-income projects.
Below, the dumpsters. What arrogance on the part of Tishman Speyer to continue traumatizing tenants in this area with the horrid screeching noise of these dumpsters in the night or early morning hours. This is a scandal that also touches our local politicians, who seem to be pathetically ineffectual here.
And let's not forget this beautiful dumpster on the other side of the Ave. C loop:
Nice pick-up, guys!
The worst looking area of Stuy Town is at the interior corner of Ave. C and 14 Street. Imagine paying market rate for this view when you come home:
With cutbacks in the maintenance staff, there appear to be not enough workers or time to pick up all those leaves:
Nothing better says that Tishman Speyer loves it tenants than the sorry state of the Oval grounds:
It was three years ago that Rob Speyer sent this Thanksgiving message to the tenants of Stuy Town & Peter Cooper Village:
I am writing on behalf of everyone at Tishman Speyer to express how honored we are to become part of your outstanding community. We are a business with deep roots in New York, a true love of our city and a great respect for the neighborhoods that make it special. We are committed to maintaining the unique character and environment that have made Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town such a wonderful place to live for so long. We look forward to providing you an extraordinary level of service and attentiveness that will be the source of pride and satisfaction for the entire community.
I think most of us knew this was bullshit at the time. Certainly it has been proven so!
So thanks for destroying this community and property, Rob. Thanks for proving that you are not capable of dealing with tenants with skill and respect. Thanks for proving that you are just a rich man's boy who is in a high management position only because of that and not because of any talent or intelligence. All of us hope to see you and your company leave here soon. I doubt that this community will ever return to what it was before your "stewardship," but we will try, we will try.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Is it a scam or a legitimate charity organization? A reader alerted this blog that representatives of "Veterans Support Organization" were soliciting money right in front of Associated Supermarket. According to a photocopied flyer that was being handed out, for $5 you could feed a veteran on Thanksgiving, for $10 on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Scams for charity organizations are frequent during holiday times, and suspicions were raised when another blog reader asked to see VA identification from the gentleman soliciting the money (who was dressed in camouflage attire available in many stores in New York and who claimed to be a twenty year vet with service in Desert Storm--Airborne, too!). Said gentlemen refused, stating that he is not allowed to show his VA identification, which is, plain and simple, bullshit.
I went over to witness what was happening, and indeed the guy (I only saw a guy, but apparently there was an older woman with him earlier) was doing a very vocal charity pitch to anyone passing by or going into Associated. He was standing maybe a foot or two away from the entrance to the supermarket. When I was there, several Associated customers were putting their bills into one of two large Veterans Support Organization plastic buckets. In between the buckets was a folder with copies of papers that were meant to prove that the organization is legit.
After doing some research, yes, the organization is legit and non-profit, though it's had some run-ins with veterans organizations connected with the government. According to online reports, the Veterans Support Organization gives only a percentage of its take to veterans, the rest is divided among the workers, both the street solicitors and those higher up in the organization. Veterans Support Organization began in Florida in 2001, and just recently has set up headquarters in New York. Its NY website is here.
It's too bad that veterans organizations that give 100% (or close to it) of their charity haul to veterans are so underwhelming represented on the street. The success of the VSO will probably mean that these organizations will get less donations than before--but if it takes a more aggressive push for people to give, then perhaps the VSO shouldn't be faulted. Though veterans work for the organization, the street solicitors do not have to be veterans, which may explain why the aforementioned gentleman refused to show his VA ID.
Speaking of veterans--wouldn't it be good of Tishman Speyer to go back to some Stuy Town basics and begin offering veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan affordable housing in this complex? Just a small percentage of the available apartments it has here?
Update: A bit more on the Veterans Support Organization, operating in Cape Cod during the summer....
EAST FALMOUTH — Wal-Mart shoppers on Friday donated nearly $1,500 in just a few hours to two men, dressed in military garb, who were supposedly raising money to help local veterans. Those men, members of the Veterans Support Organization, may have been dressed like veterans — but they have never served in any of the armed forces, police said.
And with administrative offices in Rhode Island and Florida, the company's chief operating officer Richard VanHouten has admitted none of the donations go directly toward helping veterans on Cape Cod.
While the VSO is a registered nonprofit in this state, according to the state Attorney General's Office, Falmouth Veterans Agent Jay Hill said that legal or not, "something stinks."
Read more here.
And then there's this, from WPTV in Florida:
STUART, FL -- You may have seen the men wearing camouflage and dog tags, carrying buckets and American flags on street corners.
They're drumming up donations for a non-profit group called "Veterans Support Organization, Inc."
The group purports to raise the cash for disabled and homeless vets, by giving money directly to local VA hospitals.
But a look at the group's financial statements shows a large percentage of the money raised goes to administrative and fund raising costs.
According to the group's 2006-2007 financial statement, 63% of its revenues go to administrative and fund raising costs. That leaves just 37% for the vets. The percentage improved to closer to 50-50 in 2007-2008.
Scripps Treasure Coast Newspaper columnist Geoff Oldfather started looking into the group 5 months ago when local vets started asking questions about where the money was going.
He learned that some of the group's employees, including a former director, have criminal records.
"There’s just a lot of questions about who they employ how they are going about collecting money and keep in mind it’s all cash and how do you track all of that cash?" asks Oldfather.
Richard VanHouten, director of Veterans Service Organization, admits he has some employees who have criminal pasts, but says he wants to give everyone a chance.
With regard to the high percentage of fundraising costs, he says that was because his group was "young and learning." He says the costs are going down considerably. He insists his group is a major donor to the VA hospital in Palm Beach County.
We placed a call to the VA hospital, but have not yet heard back from officials there.
And here's a very positive view of the VSO.
One more report: Ex-cons collecting money for the VSO.
Update 12/16/09: A halt to the activities of the UHO in New York. Some say the VSO resembles the UHO....
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
They whined, they received. Just like with mommy and daddy. Despite NYU's financial troubles, NYU bus service to and from Stuyvesant Town has been reinstated--and very quickly at that.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Considering the lousy weather and the confusion over where the Unity Day event would be finally be held (at Stuyvesant Cove, if good weather--or Simon Baruch JHS 104, if rain), the turnout Saturday was pretty respectable. The NY Daily News estimated about 500, which I think is a fairly accurate estimate. Dan Garodnick was clearly the best speaker--focused and with a good voice that traveled even to the back of gathering, while State Senator Tom Duane, late in coming, was lousy--full of quick cliches and reviving the idea that tenants should have bought/should get a chance to buy Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. (Note: If the tenants had bought the property a couple of years ago for 4 billion, we possibly would have been in real trouble by now and the laughing stock of real estate bigshots. I'm uncomfortable with the concept of tenants buying this property for a huge sum of money, unless it can be shown to be risk-free enterprise, probably an impossibility.) Anyway, at least we were spared Duane's refrain from past years--"One more, one more!"--with his index finger pointing in the air. The Democrats got their "one more" in the State Senate this year and completely fucked it up.
Basically, the fight now will be to keep and even strengthen rent-stabilization laws that are due to expire in June, 2011. THIS IS THE BIG ONE, in fact. Landlords will pour all their money and influence, as will politicians paid by or friendly with the real estate lobby, to either get rid of or weaken these tenants protections.
For the purpose of protecting ourselves and fighting the good fight (which is historic), everyone should join the Tenants Association and help them out as much as possible--through money and/or man-womanpower.
One more thing: It was kinda bracing to hear Garodnick and a couple of other speakers make statements that the ruling in the J-51 case means that all market rate apartments in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village are now considered rent stabilized. I'm not too certain how secure in reality that statement is, but it's certainly one that, if factual, puts a smile on one's face and sunshine in one's heart.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Okay, depending on where you live in Stuy Town, it is probably a 15 to 20 minute walk to various NYU buildings around Washington Square Park. (I can walk to Chinatown in 35 minutes.) It really isn't that far and shouldn't be that debilitating to the young student body of NYU, who are now very upset at the lack of NYU bus service to and from this complex:
After NYU discontinued its bus service to Peter Cooper Village-Stuyvesant Town at the beginning of the semester, many students who live in Stuy Town brought their complaints about the change to the NYU Student Senators Council.
After hearing complaints about the elimination from several students, the Senators Council proposed to the university that the stop be reinstated.
In response, the SSC is currently working with the university to address the issue; recently, the council submitted a proposal to the administration asking to reinstate bus service to Stuy Town during peak hours.
You've seen the flyers and posters. On Saturday, Nov. 14th, residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village will gather at Solar One - Stuyvesant Cove Park (22nd Street and the East River) to "demonstrate our determination to maintain the affordability and unique character of our community." Time: 1pm. Expect to see several of our local politicians and tenant rights activists at the gathering, who will speak on matters critical to our survival here in this complex.
IN CASE OF RAIN, the gathering will be moved to Simon Baruch JHS 104, on 20th St, between 1st and 2nd Avenues.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
These bastards are never going to go away.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The joint venture that borrowed heavily to buy Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in 2006 could be among the first to take advantage of changes in U.S. tax law that let borrowers seek payment relief, when it said last week that it could not keep paying interest on a $3 billion loan.
On Friday, the $3 billion senior mortgage was transferred to the special servicer CWCapital after the borrower -- real estate private equity firm Tishman Speyer and BlackRock Realty Advisors, the real estate arm of money manager BlackRock Inc -- asked for relief from paying the debt service on the $3 billion mortgage.
"We requested it now so we can begin to negotiate a restructuring before it goes into default," a spokesman for Tishman Speyer said.
The $3 billion senior mortgage was securitized into five commercial mortgage-backed security (CMBS) deals. Special servicers are the only ones who can modify troubled loans underlying CMBS.
Many commercial real estate experts don't believe that the special servicer will foreclose on the property, which would be costly to the bondholders and would require more cash for the property.
Instead, they expect Tishman and its partners to work out some type of deal that may allow them to manage the property, collecting lucrative fees that could be roughly 2 percent of all the rent on the 11,227 units.
Friday, November 6, 2009
The main $3 billion mortgage for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village has been transferred to a "special servicer," according to the rating agency Fitch, a significant step taken when loans are in default or on the verge of default.
The owners of the giant 11,200-unit Manhattan apartment complex, a partnership led by Tishman Speyer and BlackRock, had just $24 million left last month in a reserve fund to pay off debt, and default was expected in a matter of weeks.
Typically, the transfer to a special servicer gives power to that entity--in this case, CWCapital--to restructure the deal, taking the power away from the owners given that they are unable to keep paying. Eventually, if the complex is sold, money would likely be returned to the main bondholders--entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--though the complex has been given a value of about $1.8 billion, significantly less than the mortgage amount, so some bondholders would clearly take a loss.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
According to the final results it wasn't the blow-out that was expected. 49% of New Yorkers voted AGAINST Bloomberg, with 46% voting for Bill Thompson. Considering the amount of obscene money Bloomberg spent in this election, this margin of victory is pathetic. But, of course, His Royal Arrogance won't get the message.
And over at the NY Times an analysis of just how Bloomberg won and how important Democrats (including President Obama), with a complicit New York media, stood aside to let him win. Read it and weep.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Above: Pals Mayor Bloomberg and Jerry Speyer thinking about how to get rid of the middle class in Manhattan and turn the borough into a mecca for the wealthy and influential and their narcissistic and spoiled sons and daughters. The bad economy was an unexpected hard bump in the road. They are waiting out its end and the reelection of Mike, when once again their master plan can "bloom," to include a retry on getting Speyer City built on the Hudson Yards and getting the federal government to financially help Robbie Speyer out with Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, after which Robbie will diligently attempt to throw out as many rent stabilized tenants as he can. By the way, Robbie was appointed by Bloomberg as "Chair of the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City." Be very afraid.
I voted for Bloomberg twice. I was also voted against term limits--twice. But this Tuesday I will not vote for Mike Bloomberg. My reasoning is two-fold. One, Bloomberg has seen the dissolution of what I consider the heart and soul of Manhattan, where I live. During his reign as mayor, I have seen entire neighborhoods changed from being true neighborhoods, with a unique character containing their own brand of indigenous ethnic groups and stores, to being soulless blocks stunned by dull architecture and arrogant residents who do not seem to be from the city, but who are passing through, either as businessmen with no particular love for Manhattan (but just a lust for Manhattan as their playground) or as students whose well-to-do families are paying for their education and experiences in the Big Apple until it's time for junior and princess to move on. I have seen buildings I have loved--New York buildings stately in their character and earthiness--torn down to be replaced by generic high rises. You know the type: the business store ground floor (typically a bank, a Starbucks and a chain drug store), the second floor a gym for the exclusive use of tenants of that building, and then rising to the sky, the dreary glass fronts of windows upon windows upon windows. During Bloomberg's reign I have been watching Manhattan, which I love, disappear, never to return again.
Take a walk or a bus ride to the West Side, above 42 Street. What you will see are these incredible high rises, one next to the other. It doesn't look or feel like as if you are in Manhattan anymore. It could be Miami, could be Austin, it would be anywhere USA. This is Bloomberg's New York. Go down below Houston Street. See if you can find Little Italy anymore. Oh, yeah, there it is, a measly block or two and then gone. Yeah, Chinatown is taking it over, but not so fast. See those old buildings going down in Chinatown? Yup, more and more of them are disappearing, and the new tenants are not Chinese, but the brethren of those same rich folks who own places on the upper West and East Sides. And then Chinatown will be no more, except a few blocks to seduce the tourists, just as is Little Italy. This is Bloomberg's New York. See Times Square? Yeah, it used to be earthy and rude and so damn New York that it was the place you wanted to be if you felt you needed a good wallop of the Big Apple and a lesson in what it meant to be a New Yorker. Now it's only meant for tourists. Its soul is completely gone. Yes, good thing they got rid of the peep shows and double-bill theaters where people without much money could enjoy a few cheap filthy thrills. Let the rich and powerful folks--yes, the politicians and the businessmen--have their expensive and out of the sensitive public eye thrills, however. (Think guys like ex-Governor Spitzer, who paid over $4,000 to get paddled by a hooker or to paddle a hooker; it was never made clear which one.) And where is the House that Ruth built? Gone under Mayor Bloomberg's reign, with--guess who?--Jerry Speyer involved in the building of the new Yankee Stadium. And why isn't the 2nd Avenue Deli on 2nd Avenue anymore? (And replaced by a bank, too! What a suitable symbol for what has become Bloomberg's New York.) And what in the hell is happening with 1 World Trade Center? What an embarrassment that during Bloomberg's reign not much has been done in eight years on that tragic site. Although, given how awful the new building will look perhaps we should be thankful for such favors.
Speaking of architectural monstrosities, any Mayor worth his Gracie Mansion residence would never have allowed the building of this vomitous structure:
How dare Bloomberg allow an architect to take a crap on a city street of something this size and this horrid! (It's the new Cooper Union academic building in case you didn't know.)
Mayor Bloomberg has not only been the steward of the city during these changes, he has actively pursued them, favoring the wealthy and real estate magnates, like his friend Jerry Speyer, over the average New Yorker who is trying desperately to live in the city in affordable housing and not get forced out to one of the outer boroughs--or worse, out of the entire city itself. Bloomberg's vision of Manhattan as the Dubai on the Hudson is not what New York has ever been to me, nor is it something I wish to see solidified. His friendship with the high and mighty (for he himself is high and mighty) has foreshadowed the end of Manhattan for the middle class. That is why Bloomberg has to go.
He also has to go because he subverted the will of the people twice, people who voted for term limits. Both he and the City Council members who voted to rescind the two term-limit law went against the wishes of the people, not even allowing a referendum on the matter. It is well understand by both Bloomberg and these City Council members (many of whom would have been out of office next year) that an elected official already in office has a far greater certainty of being re-elected. (The percentage is above 90%, and I've heard even as high as 99%!) I consider this turn-around on Bloomberg's part a slap in the face of democracy and still am outraged that this could have happened. And don't believe for a moment that it was the bad economy that made Bloomberg turn his back on term limits to "save" New York. Months before the economy took a tumble, Bloomberg was being coy about running for a third term. He understand then that in order to carry out his vision of a transformed New York, he would need more time than just two terms.
It is imperative that we, as voters, as people concerned for the voice of the people, do not forget about this affront against the vote of New Yorkers, do not rationalize this arrogant dismissal away, do not reward it by voting for the people responsible for the reversal. Out of sheer self-dignity, whether you think term limits is good or not, whether you think Bloomberg would be the best mayor for the next four years or not--by sheer dignity, one is compelled to say "NO, I will not put up with this," and place a vote for Bloomberg's opponent.
Do not think for a moment that once the election is over, and Bloomberg wins (which seems likely), that after the economy slowly improves he will not continue with a master plan to keep on turning Manhattan into a town for the rich and the tourist; do not think for a moment that he will NOT try to help his pal Jerry Speyer and Jerry's son, Robbie, in dealing with Stuy Town at your loss; do not think for a moment that, if you are middle class, he will not try to escort you out of the city you love and live in. ("If you can't afford Manhattan, what are you doing here?" one can hear Bloomberg coolly state if you protest.) If the economy doesn't improve fast enough for Bloomberg to make Manhattan into his vision, watch the guy run for a fourth term. You know it can happen. There's no stopping this cold, vain and arrogant bastard. He is on track to spending 140 million dollars for this current campaign, and when added to his previous campaigns for Mayor, it gives him a record in American history. In his run for a third term, he's been saturating the airwaves, the print media and the internet so much that you'd think he was running for Master of the Universe. You can just sense his feeling of self-satisfaction at knowing that his money is stomping any chance of his opponent getting a message out.
And just take a look at this photo to fully understand the problem:
That's Mike on the right with Robbie Speyer on the left.
Yes, Bloomberg has to go.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
A lot of us felt that big monied interests would win out and that the Court of Appeals would decide against tenants and for Tishman Speyer/Blackrock in the J-51 case.
You can read more about this ruling at the NY Times.
This is a HUGE win for tenants--not only in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village, but in the city.
So, Jerry and Robbie Speyer--YOU LOSE!!!
Get the latest up-to-date info about this ruling and its possible results at the "newsreel" sidebar on the right.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
The LA Times website features a blog piece by Jill Stewart on the California Public Employee Retirement System and its investment in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. Here's the part that addresses Stuy Town/PCV:
.... the other ugly news breaking today about corruption at Calpers: its board of directors poured vast public funds -- your money -- into a scheme in Manhattan to force working-class people out of thousands of apartments on the city's East Side, and rent those apartments to the rich. Sick, sick stuff.
Calpers' board of directors and staff need a massive political and fiscal enema. Here's what these people have been up to:
According to the Wall Street Journal, CALPERS was a very, very big investor in a plan to convert 11,000 apartments that make up the vast "Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town" of 56 (yes, 56) brick high-rises on the city's East Side. Apparently, these 56 towers provide roofs for about 30,000 working-class New Yorkers.
In a plot thick with evil intent -- like forced homelessness and mass evictions -- Calpers poured in cash, along with the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. and others, to own a piece of Cooper Village/Stuy Town, which was built for returning veterans and their young families after World War II.
Calpers' hope -- it's actual hope -- was to force out thousands of working-class residents, and turn the vast brick complex into "market rate" units.
The term "market rate" in Manhattan means housing for the upper-middle-class and the rich.
Add some granite counters, WiFi, poodle doors and snobby doormen, and force thousands of working people out of their rent-controlled homes. But do it 3,000 miles away from California in New York City.
We California state taxpayers paid for this nasty scheme, but we never knew it.
But now, with Calpers mired in intellectual corruption -- and possibly fiscal corruption, thanks to its pals like Al Villalobos -- the WSJ reports that the vast brick Manhattan complex worth $5.4 billion when Calpers bought into it is now worth $2.1 billion and default appears "imminent."
Let's see it blow up in Calpers' face. California voters are not shitheads. California voters have approved bond measure after bond measure to provide affordable housing and house the homeless. California voters would never, ever have backed such an anti-human, anti-family, anti-worker scheme as the one Calpers invested in in New York.
Maybe Californians will put an initiative on the ballot to upend the Calpers board of directors and outlaw its ultra-rich private middlemen, and start over at this troubled pension fund.
As the WSJ reported about Cooper Village/Stuy Town: "The new owners predicted they would be able to convert thousands of protected apartments to higher market rents. These projections convinced Calpers" to jump in. How despicable.
Though there's a different kind of "fall" awaiting this complex, it's good to enjoy whatever blessings we get--via nature. A faithful reader of this blog sent in these photos of the fall foliage at the Oval. (Thank you!)
Of course, we seem to be in the middle of winter right now, but hopefully we can enjoy the fall season for a while longer.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
According to the Wall Street Journal, it appears that a "special servicer" will be dealing with the debt over ST/PVC soon, no matter if Tishman Speyer wins the J-51 court case. Tishman Speyer's problems, which are mostly the problems of the suckers who invested at TS' urgings, are detailed in the article linked below:
Wall Street Journal
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The attack took place deep into this area, near 8 Oval:
Looks charming in the daylight hours, but at night it can be a foreboding forest for a solitary walker, particularly a woman or a senior citizen.
Stuyvesant Town Security did arrive, once they were alerted, but they never "caught their man" and, despite all the cameras around the complex, were not able to see and stop the attack in progress.
All this was foreseen many, many months ago. When Tishman Speyer's massive tree planting campaign started, residents questioned the practicality of having so many trees all around Stuy Town, when the trees would be an obvious natural cover for potential robbers and rapists. In their arrogance, Tishman Speyer didn't listen and even made the potentially dangerous situation even more perilous by reducing Stuy Town's security staff and relying on newly installed cameras, instead of "boots on the ground," to deal with safety issues.
There have been various other incidents inside Stuyvesant Town--muggings and a rape--and in each instance that I know of, Stuy Town Security has not been able to stop the crime nor apprehend the criminal. That's the serious stuff. If we mention the trivial "quality of life" issues, Security has also been a dismal failure. The dog rules are not being enforced and, despite the extra (and pathetic) effort of putting up green barricades, bicyclists still ride their bikes wherever they choose.
I don't blame Security for not being up to the task of stopping crime and enforcing Stuy Town's rules. I blame Tishman Speyer, which has eviscerated Security and relied on technology that has been proven not to work. I've said this over and over: You need an actual security presence on the ground, walking, to even hope to deter crime and enforce the rules. Driving around the loops or the Oval every hour in vehicles is not going to do it; huddling in front of monitors at the Management Office isn't going to work, either. You have to have foot patrols and have those patrols walk throughout the entire complex, the back ways in particular where rules are continually being broken and crime is awaiting to sprout.
My guess is that Security is just as fed up with Tishman Speyer as are residents. My guess is that, furthermore, they feel Tishman Speyer will not stand up for them if they enforce some of the "petty" rules of this place. (I'm sure all of Security is aware of what happened to one of their own when a confrontation took place between a misbehaving dog owner and a security officer who was just trying to enforce the rules; the security officer was fired.)
Tishman Speyer's destruction of Security is just one step in the process of destroying Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village. And tragic consequences are beginning to arise out of this.
Monday, October 5, 2009
I know a lot of you (yes, you know who you are) will be overjoyed at the return to Stuyvesant Town of cabbages. These charming decorative cabbages are perfect for this time of year and much appreciated by Stuy Town mice and rats who, with the lessening of human picnics on the Oval grounds, would have had a hard time seeking out food to live on through the winter months. Expect the aroma of rotting cabbages some time early next year, but that will be a small price to pay for the visual bounty we are getting and the food supply for our little (and not so little) rodent friends.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Lawlessness in Stuyvesant Town, or How Stuy Town Residents are Saying FU to the Rules and How Security is Not Doing Its Job
Here are the new signs that you now see at various points around Stuy Town/PCV:
And green "anti-bike" barricades have now sprung up with maniacal persistence at four points in the Oval, along with notices that bike riding is prohibited.
The result of this new impetus? A flagrant disregard of the signs, with ST dog owners continually letting their dogs on the grass/gardens/wherever and bicyclists maneuvering easily through the green obstacle course placed before them. It even appears that there's more of both activities, almost a willful "FU" to the signs and barricades. (These barricades are also a visual blight in the area and are a pain in the ass for joggers, those who are wheelchair bound and parents with strollers. For bicyclists, they seem like challenging fun.)
Part of the problem is this:
After a brief period where the presence of security appeared to have increased, we are back to the empty booth and lack of visible manpower around the complex. Worse (and I witnessed this myself) when security is around, they do little, if anything, to stop those who ride bikes right in front of them or who let their pooches roam around in the grass or gardens. At most, they will chase kids who are misbehaving in the fountain.
If the rules are stupid or impractical, get rid of the rules; if they are necessary for whatever standard of living we have left here, enforce them. But the current situation is a farce.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The trial of Queen's Democrat Hiram MonsterRat is underway. MonsterRat is one of the two Democrats who decided to go along with overturning Democratic State Senate leadership earlier this year, plunging the State Senate into chaos and, by default, torpedoing tenant reform. (Pedro Espada Jr. is the other clown.) MonsterRat is on trial for assault against his girlfriend. According to his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, MonsterRat broke a glass and sliced her face. Giraldo later changed her story. The fairytale is that MonsterRat was going to offer her water, slipped and the glass (unbroken?) slashed her face accidentally.
Below is surveillance video showing MonsterRat shoving Giraldo around on the way to a nearby hospital, after Giraldo first tried to find help from a neighbor downstairs.
Monday, September 21, 2009
If you are a Stuy Town Rent Stabilized Tenant, you have already received - or will receive - a notice from the Division of Housing & Community Renewal advising that Tishman Speyer has applied for a Major Capital Improvement (MCI) rent increase to cover the cost of resurfacing of walkways and roadbeds, water tanks, and doors.
Stuy Town Reporter took a walk around the complex to see just how good was the resurfacing of walkways and roadbeds, a resurfacing that didn't seem necessary in the first place. Here are just a few of the photos that tell the tale of a job not that well done:
I guess we'll be needing another round of resurfacing soon and another MCI increase.
Here is the recommendation of the Tenants Association regarding the MCI notices rent stabilized tenants have received:
PLEASE DO NOT DISCARD THE NOTICE. INSTEAD, PLEASE FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
We are asking you to request a 60-day extension to respond to the notice, which will give the Association time to analyze the MCI application and develop a plan of action.
1. Make two (2) copies of the notice from DHCR.
2. On the back of one copy, write: I request a 60-day extension. Sign it and write the date you are mailing it. Also include the docket number that appears on the fourth line at the upper right hand corner of the notice. (It will have two letters, a space, 6 numbers, another space, and two more letters.) Each building has a different Docket Number.
3. Mail the form to: State of New York, Div. of Housing & Community Renewal, MCI Unit, 92-31 Union Hall St., Jamaica, NY 11433. Reminder: Postage is now 44 cents.
4. Mail or fax a copy of the form to: ST Repaving MCI, ST/PCV-TA, P.O. Box 1202, New York, NY 10009-1202. Fax: (866) 290-9036.
5. Keep the other copy for yourself. You will need it again in a month or two when you file the Response to the MCI Rent Increase Application. Don't worry about that now. We will send you full instructions for filing when the time comes.
Every resident who sends in the extension request will be helping the Tenants Association to mount an effective challenge of what now appears to be between $7.50 and more than $10 per room per month for a rent increase whose legitimacy we will seriously question.
Please help get the word out, but don't do so by trying to print this e-mail message. It won't print well. Instead, use this PDF letter AVAILABLE HERE. Posting the letter you download will help reduce the need for distribution.
Thank you for your help.
PLEASE: WE NEED YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT
Your Tenants Association is run exclusively by volunteers.
Please help defray the cost of legal, communication, and meeting expenses. To save time and effort, donate online. Or mail a check payable to: ST/PCV TA, P.O. Box 1202, Stuyvesant Station, NY 10009 1202. Thanks.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Losers (asterisk indicates running for third term):
*G. Oliver Kopell
Remaining (unopposed or not running)
*Erik Martin Dilan
*Peter Vallone, Jr
Heading to jail:
*Miguel Martinez (resigned his seat)
Monday, September 14, 2009
Christine Quinn, Bloomberg's partner in screwing New Yorkers, is up for reelection this year. In 2007, she was quoted as saying: "I am today taking a firm and final position. I will not support the repeal or change of term limits through any mechanism, and I will oppose aggressively any attempt by anyone to make any changes in the term limits law." The following year she, along with Mayor-for-Life Bloomberg, led the impetus to overturn term limits. As you can guess, Quinn is running for her third term.
Alan Gerson represents a district, the Lower East Side, that is closest to Stuy Town. He's up for reelection and also should be booted out for going against the will of the people by voting to overturn term limits. Yes, he's also running for his third term. Stuy Town's City Councilman, Dan Garodnick, is also up for reelection, but voted against extending term limits. Dan is running for his second term.
Tomorrow is the Democratic Primary. Below are the City Council members who voted to overturn the city's two-term limit rule that had been twice approved by the citizens of New York City. This list is taken from New York One. An asterisk before a name indicates someone who would have been out of office next year if the two-term rule was still in effect. I'm not forgetting Mayor-for-Life Mike Bloomberg, who led the charge to overturn voters' wishes, but I'll be dealing with Mike in a future blog entry. If any of these guys and gals is running in tomorrow's Democratic Primary, the citizens, to maintain their dignity, should vote for someone else. You can already scratch Miguel Martinez from the list, as he resigned in July when the heat got too intense on his activities of diverting public funds for private profit. (Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced October 21.)
Maria del Carmen Arroyo
*Erik Martin Dilan
*G. Oliver Koppell
*Peter Vallone, Jr
Check out the You're a Disgrace, Mayor Bloomberg website for further info.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Rob and Jerry Speyer in far happier times. Their deal for ST/PCV is now called "a poster child for all that was wrong with that era of easy credit, highly speculative deals and greed." Congratulations on your wonderful stewardship of this property, Rob and Jerry!
Rents in ST/PCV Down 25% from Peak
So states the NY Times in today's article about the money troubles for Tishman Speyer and BlackRock via their Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village property. The full two-page online article rehashes much that we've read before, with some extra titbits and some new quotes from Rob and Jerry about their failed venture.
Here's a bit more meat from the article:
Regardless of that outcome, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are in trouble. City officials have been monitoring the looming crisis and how it might affect a complex that has served as an oasis of affordability in Manhattan for middle-class New Yorkers. Some 6,875 of the 11,227 apartments at the complexes are rent regulated.
“We are absolutely keeping an eye on it,” said Rafael E. Cestero, the city’s housing commissioner. “It’s an iconic complex.”
“We’re not doing this to bail out anybody who was part of the original transaction,” he added. “Those folks are going to take their lumps. We are looking at how we can ensure that the rent-stabilized units and the families that live there and families that could live there in the future could be insulated from the unwinding of this deal.”
Even with the partnership’s financial problems pointing to a possible default, tenants would not be likely to face high rent increases or eviction, but they may face a period of deferred maintenance and disinvestment.
Rob Speyer, who is co-chief executive of Tishman Speyer Properties with his father, Jerry, acknowledged the problems went beyond the need for a cash infusion from the partners and their investors, which include Calpers, the giant California pension fund that is the nation’s largest.
“The asset is going to require a restructuring,” he said. “Once the court case is resolved, we’ll speak to our debt holders as well as our fellow equity investors.”
Tishman Speyer and BlackRock spent $6.3 billion — the $5.4 billion purchase price and the creation of four reserve funds totaling $890 million — to buy Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village from the original owner, Metropolitan Life.The deal has become a “poster child” for all that was wrong with that era of easy credit, highly speculative deals and greed, said Ben Thypin, an analyst at Real Capital Analytics, a research firm.
Now the buyers are running out of time and money. Jerry I. and Rob Speyer and their partner, BlackRock Realty, who paid $5.4 billion for the quiet middle-class redoubt near the East River, have seen the property lose more than half of its value, and the income from rent — down 25 percent from its peak — covers less than half of their debt payments.