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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, May 30, 2014

May 22, 2010

A Step in the Right Direction

http://town-village.com/2014/05/30/cape-crusade-aims-to-fight-predatory-equity/

On Wednesday, Council Members Dan Garodnick, Jumaane Williams and Ritchie Torres announced the formation of a coalition of over 40 elected officials who are committed to keeping affordable housing from turning into overleveraged housing.
 

Specifically, the Coalition Against Predatory Equity (CAPE) was organized in an effort to avoid the type of massive debt deals that have led to the loss of affordable housing like at Stuyvesant Town.
 

“We have a wide-ranging, diverse group and together we have some powerful principles,” said Garodnick, adding that the coalition is “strength in numbers.”

The four goals of the group are:
 

To get Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to commit to not lending to any owner in a deal that puts affordable housing at risk.
 

Avoid investment of city and state pension funds in deals that harm tenants.
 

Stop offering tax abatements or subsidies to development deals that would lead to the loss of affordable units.
 

Come up with legislation aimed at limiting “the abuses of predatory equity, and assists tenants in over-leveraged buildings.”

More at the above link.

Has Anyone Seen....?

In reviewing the venture between the Tenants Association and Brookfield to purchase Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, I'm coming across a dead end in two important cases:

1) Has the agreement between the TA and Brookfield ever been made public to the tenants?

2) Has the TA/Brookfield proposal to CWCapital to purchase the property ever been made public to tenants?

I'm not interested in generalities, that were made public, but in concrete facts and documents related to the agreement between the TA and Brookfield, and the proposal that was sent to CWCapital.

To refresh minds:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-30/brookfield-joins-stuyvesant-town-tenants-in-bid-to-buy-manhattan-complex.html

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wouldn't It Be Funny



If Fortress, or someone like them, buys the property and decides to turn the units into condos? They'd get a portion of RS tenants to give up their RS rights and acquire loads of money from the sale of these condos and perpetual monthly maintenance fees that could match, if not exceed, current rents.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Where are Chuckie Schumer and Carolyn Maloney?



Let's go back into history, 2010:

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/sen-schumer-calls-collapse-stuyvesant-town-peter-cooper-village-deal-opportunity-article-1.459266

Calling the huge collapse of the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village deal "an opportunity," Sen. Chuck Schumer Sunday rallied hundreds of tenants pushing to keep the complex an affordable oasis. "This would seem like chaos, but there's a silver lining on this cloud," said Schumer (D-NY).

He and others are pressuring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the publicly chartered organizations that hold much of the $3 billion mortgage on the complex, to ensure it is sold to an owner who will promise to keep the apartments affordable.

Fannie and Freddie got huge taxpayer bailouts in 2008, and lawmakers aren't letting them forget it. State Senator Thomas Duane said they have an "obligation" to protect the tenants.

"Preserving affordability is Fannie and Freddie's core mission. There are 25,000 tenants who are watching to make sure they don't cut and run on us now," said Councilman Daniel Garodnick, a Stuy Town resident.

As tenants waved signs saying "save our homes" in the sunny cold at 18th Street and 1st Ave, Schumer said, "a fight for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village goes far beyond these brick buildings. You can't have a thriving New York City without a middle class."

Developers Tishman Speyer bought the 80-acre complex in 2006 for $5.4 billion - the largest real estate deal in US history - and planned to turn the rent-regulated flats into pricey luxury apartments.

They ran into legal trouble and were smacked hard by the 2008 real estate crash. Unable to pay the mortgage, they announced last week they were giving up the keys and walking away.

Now, Garodnick said, "Fannie and Freddie are in the driver's seat. They need to live up to their charter mission. This isn't a property that can be flipped to the highest bidder."

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

Maloney did try back in 2010:


New York, NY – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney joined with elected officials, community leaders, and affordable housing advocates at a news conference outside Stuyvesant Town to announce her introduction of legislation in Congress, H.R. 5361, that will sharply curtail the ability of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to invest in future transactions that reduce the availability of affordable housing both in New York and nationwide. Representative Maloney was joined at the press conference by New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; NYS Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh; NYC Councilman Dan Garodnick; Alvin Doyle, the President of the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association; and other consumer, housing and community advocates.

GSEs like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are mandated by the federal government to help increase affordable housing. However, Fannie and Freddie provided crucial liquidity for the purchase of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, even though the buyers’ business plan relied heavily on the use of aggressive tactics to convert rent-regulated apartments to market rate housing. What’s more, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac earned "affordable housing goals credits" by investing in the Stuyvesant Town deal – despite the fact that the transaction did the opposite of creating or preserving affordable housing.

Congresswoman Maloney’s bill, the “Responsible GSE Affordable Housing Investment Act of 2010"(H.R. 5361), which has been cosponsored by New York Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Nydia Velazquez, Gregory Meeks, and Yvette Clarke, would require the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to deny affordable housing goals credits when a project's debt is disproportionate to its income – as was the case in the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village sale. The bill will also require the GSEs to use the same standards for assessing their investments in the secondary securities market as they would for direct investments for the purposes of affordable housing goals credits, thus syncing the standards for securities investments with those of direct investments. In addition, Rep. Maloney and Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank this week sent a letter to the Acting Director of the FHFA urging the Agency to use its power to deny affordable housing goals credits for multifamily loans that facilitate the conversion of units from affordable to a higher market rate. A full copy of that letter is attached.

“It’s outrageous that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aided and abetted efforts to slash New York’s stock of affordable housing. In the Stuy Town deal, Fannie and Freddie got affordable housing goals credit where no such credit was due – and for the good of our communities, that’s got to stop,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “My bill will sharply curtail the ability of Fannie, Freddie, and other GSEs to take part in transactions that depend on converting housing to market rate. Today, we’re sending the message to Fannie and Freddie that they should be investing in deals that increase affordable housing. That's their stated mission -- and they need to start living up to that mandate.”

Joining Representative Maloney at today’s news conference were several elected officials, community activists, and advocates for affordable housing. Among them were New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who said, “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were created to increase access to housing. When they funded an investment predicated on eliminating affordable housing at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, they failed that goal. The government should stop Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from investing in any development deals that will threaten affordable housing. I applaud Congresswoman Maloney for spearheading legislative efforts which will help protect tenants at Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village and throughout our city.”

More at the above link, but I did check to see what happened to this bill and found this:


H.R.5361
Latest Title: Responsible GSE Affordable Housing Investment Act of 2010
Sponsor: Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] (introduced 5/20/2010)      Cosponsors (4)
Latest Major Action: 5/20/2010 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. 

And this:


This bill was introduced on May 20, 2010, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted.

STR: Your government at work!

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

I found this kinda amusing - 2006:

 https://maloney.house.gov/press-release/rep-maloney-reacts-sale-stuyvesant-townpeter-cooper-village

NEW YORK, NY – Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) reacted to the $5.4 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to a joint venture of Tishman Speyer and BlackRock Realty.  Residents of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper, which are located in Maloney’s district, have urged potential purchasers to preserve the complexes’ stock of affordable housing.

“While I am disappointed that the Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Tenants Association’s offer did not prevail, I’m glad that the complexes have been sold to a New York firm.  I congratulate Tishman Speyer and BlackRock on their successful bid,” said Rep. Maloney.

“Representatives of Tishman Speyer assured me today that they don’t intend to tear down the buildings or kick rent stabilized tenants out of their homes.”

“I’m encouraged by Tishman Speyer’s promise not to make ‘a sudden or dramatic shift in this neighborhood's make-up, character or charm.’  Stuy Town and Peter Cooper have a long and noble history of providing affordable housing to New Yorkers.  I urge Tishman Speyer to meet with residents as quickly as possible to reassure them that it will keep their rents affordable.”

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Blast from the Past: The Affordable Rent Campaign



Remember when we, and many others in NYC, held hands around Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village? This complex was chosen for the demonstration because of it being a stronghold and an ideal of affordable middle class housing, the largest in the nation. Did the politicians listen? What was the outcome?


New York Is Our Home: Affordable Rent Campaign
is the work of a comprehensive coalition including dozens of tenant, labor, and political organizations (click on "read more" below to see the full list).
The campaign will take advantage of a unique political opening to press tenant demands. We want to:

  • Repeal Vacancy Decontrol
  • Restore Home Rule Over Rent Laws
  • Stop Unfair Rent Increases and Harassment
  • Preserve Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 Housing
  • Ensure State Funding for NYCHA Housing
  • Limit Rental Payments for New Yorkers with HIV and AIDS
Come to the
AFFORDABLE RENT CAMPAIGN RALLY
  • Wednesday, May 23, 2007
  • 5:00 PM
  • Stuy-Town / Peter Cooper Village
    Avenue B from 14th to 23rd Streets in Manhattan


New York Is Our Home!
Affordable Rent Campaign
 
New York Is Our Home! is a coalition effort of affordable housing groups, labor and the Working Families Party, and headed by Julie Miles of Housing Here & Now .
 
Campaign Platform
With the present crisis as a starting point, losing hundreds of thousands of affordable apartments over the next 10 years would be devastating. But this is precisely what will happen unless strong new policies are put in place quickly. As rents continue to skyrocket, affordable housing protections are eroding.

Rent protections were undermined by the Pataki Administration through 12 years of bad legislation and regulation, jeopardizing the 1.1 million families who live in rent-regulated housing. In addition, thousands of affordable units in Mitchell-Lama, Section 8, and public housing buildings are being lost every year. The State’s Urstadt law makes the problem worse by taking control over rent regulation out of the hands of the elected representatives of the citizens these policies effect, and giving it instead to a body whose majority is not accountable to voters in the affected areas. It must be repealed.

A substantial portion of the housing now within the reach of moderate and middle-income families in New York City, and crucial affordable homes in the surrounding suburbs, are in serious jeopardy.

While the City of New York has recently made record-breaking commitments to create and preserve affordable housing, we cannot simply build our way out of the problem. Although the Mayor’s plan will create 94,000 new affordable units and preserve 71,000 existing units, nearly 1.5 million affordable units are at risk if the State does not act now.
 
What We Need to Do Now to Save Affordable Housing in New York!

Repeal “Vacancy Decontrol”
 
Vacancy decontrol rule introduced in the early 90’s is eliminating rent-regulated apartments at an ever-accelerating pace.

As a result of changes in the rent laws initiated in 1994, rent-stabilized apartments can be deregulated when they become vacant as long as the new rent can be pushed over $2,000. Vacancy decontrol has provided an incentive for landlords to do everything possible to raise rents, and to get tenants out of apartments, so that they can permanently escape from rent regulation. Vacancy increases and “major capital improvements” mean that even apartments with existing rents far below the $2,000 threshold are at serious risk. Over time, vacancy decontrol will lead to the total repeal of rent regulation.

The impact has been, and will continue to be, devastating. Studies show a loss of 300,000 units since 1994. The rate of losses is only accelerating with time. Over the next 10 years an ADDITIONAL 300,000 apartments in New York City – almost 1/3 of the total remaining rent-regulated stock – are likely to be decontrolled, and increasing numbers of the 100,000 rent regulated apartments in Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland are also at risk.

Vacancy decontrol needs to be repealed to stop the hemorrhage of irreplaceable affordable housing in New York. Statutory change is also needed to prevent landlords from deregulating units by illegally registering them as decontrolled.

Roll Back the Pataki Anti-Tenant Program: Restore Fairness to the Administration of rent regulations.
 
A series of DHCR regulations and practices implemented during the Pataki Administration overwhelmingly favor landlords over tenants, and allow illegitimate rent increases and evictions.Governor Spitzer can and must reverse these changes.

Important steps that must be taken to restore fairness and protect tenants include:
  • Slow the loss of units: End the practice of granting landlords across the board “Unique or Peculiar” permission to raise rents to landlords in Mitchell-Lama buildings leaving the program; restrict demolition evictions to buildings that will be razed; tighten NYC owner-use eviction rules; require the DHCR to enforce a strict registration system.
  • Prevent displacing rent increases: repeal the 2003 preferential rent rule that allows big hikes in the rents in poor and gentrifying communities; tighten the rules for rent increase applications for major capitol improvements (MCI’s) and for individual apartment increases and prevent fraud; shift the burden of proving deregulation onto landlords; limit rent increases on vacancy; end the practice of allowing permanent increases for improvements.
  • Protect tenants: protect tenants from harassment which could force them out of their apartments; make procedures efficient, transparent, and accessible to tenants; remove the right to evict tenants and subtenants from regulated apartments for splitting the rent less than exactly equally; and allow the addition of non-traditional family members to the lease.
(Please see additional fact sheet that details this section of the platform)
Retain the affordability of ALL Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 developments when their initial contracts expire.
 
Tens of thousands of affordable Mitchell-Lama apartments have already been lost. There are more than 40,000 Mitchell-Lama rental apartments and some 47,000 homes in Section 8 properties that need to be protected. A comprehensive plan to respond to this crisis must include protections for tenants, incentives to preserve Mitchell-Lama, and enforcement of the highest standards for Mitchell- Lama landlords.
  • Extend rent regulations to all developments: Today, Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 projects built before 1974 are permanently covered by rent regulation when their contracts expire, but still face enormous rent increases through a loophole in the law that allows a landlord to argue that “unique or peculiar circumstances” exempt them from the rent laws. Tenants in developments built after 1973 are NOT COVERED by rent regulations if they opt out of these programs. Rent regulations must be extended to ALL Mitchell Lama and Section 8 buildings when their contracts expire, regardless of when they were built … along the lines of legislation proposed by Mayor Bloomberg, and all must be safeguarded from “unique or peculiar” increases that could raise their rents to market rate.
  • Declare a moratorium on buyouts: New York State should declare a moratorium on all Mitchell Lama buyouts. This moratorium should last until such time as New York State has developed its preservation agenda and until such time as DHCR has issued a report which explains how the agency will enforce the State’s preservation plan and how it will avoid its past mistakes and missteps.
  • Provide a right of first refusal: The State should enact legislation that gives tenants, and tenant selected qualified buyers, a right of first refusal to purchase these buildings, at prices set by an appraisal board.
  • Enforce existing provisions: DHCR should prohibit landlords who have violated the terms of any of their obligations from benefiting from buyouts.
  • Offer incentives for preservation: DHCR/HFA should establish better refinancing tools and enhancements for Mitchell-Lama landlords who are willing to remain in the subsidy programs.
(Please see additional fact sheet that pertains to this section of the platform)
 
Preserve State-Built Public Housing.
 
From 1958 to 1974, New York State constructed and paid for operated costs for public housing units statewide. In 1998, Governor Pataki eliminated the funding desperately needed to maintain this vital and aging housing stock. $70 million per year is needed to support the 20,000 state units that are left (many have been sold off because of the lack of operating subsidies).

Further, to make up for the deficit left by the State’s divestment, NYCHA has proposed taking 8400 Section 8 vouchers to use in public housing. On August 16, 2006, Eliot Spitzer pledged that if he were governor, he would support State public housing and restore State operating subsidies. Currently, the governor's budget does not include this critical funding.
 
Limit Rental Payments for New Yorkers living with AIDS to 30% of Income
 
There are more than 10,000 poor New Yorkers receiving rental assistance throughout NY State who are being forced to contribute all of their income except for $330 per month towards their rent. That means that they are being forced to survive on just $11 per day.

All other rental assistance programs cap the amount that tenants have to contribute towards their rent to just 30% of their income.

State legislation is needed to end the discrimination against New Yorkers living with AIDS. Most recently, the Spitzer administration reversed this policy for tenants living in supportive housing, but the policy needs to be changed for 10,000+ tenants living with AIDS in all other types of housing.

Pass S2890 and A5473, legislation that will cap the amount that low-income people living with AIDS receiving rental assistance to only 30% of their income.

For more information please contact Tenants & Neighbors at 212-608-4320 x 404, or email info@tandn.org, or check the website: www.NewYorkIsOurHome.com


Possibly, the Best Idea to Get Us Out of this Mess

And it was suggested on the TA Facebook page. And it is NOT tenant co-ownership of this property with Brookfield, which, as I have already stated, is never going to happen according to people in the know.

The suggestion came from Pete Harrison on May 14:

"I got my masters degree in Urban Planning with a focus on housing issues inspired largely by my experience living in Stuytown for the last 5 years. For what it's worth, I think the TA needs to at least explore alternative options to an acquisition. I would strongly suggest (and I'd be happy to assist) looking into the feasibility of converting the property into a community land trust. This type of solution has been creating and sustaining affordable housing successfully in a number of large cases (see follow up link below). It's never been done on this scale, but the political environment might just be aligned to seriously consider this option."

Mr. Harrison provided a link to a Wikipedia article on community land trust:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_land_trust

In a follow-up, Harrison continued:

"CLTs are badass, but there are significant economic and even cultural barriers to making a workable model here, certainly. Political will [...] is the potential gamechanger right here, right now. I think the broader point to consider is this: Do we accept the premise that STPCV is, in fact, a commodity, and try to play that game. Or do we reject that premise altogether and say that No, housing is not a commodity - that the property is not an ATM machine as Dan has also said - it's a right. The market, which has a vital role to play in this, make no mistake, should therefore be constructed around that value statement first. I think if you accept the latter, you'd be surprised by how many viable, economical models like CTLs are on the table."

So that's it. If the politicians can walk the talk, and not just keep on bullshitting us, then this is doable. The government has to get involved, because that is the only thing that can trump the Real Estate big-shots and their power-plays.

The TA President Gets Angry

... and chides TA Facebook members for posting about light bulbs and floor plans, rather than the looming sale of the complex.

In the spirit of passing along information relevant to ST/PCV, here's his message, posted today on the TA Facebook.

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

John Marsh:

How can folks in this group be discussing floor plans and light bulbs in the face of what’s looming over us on June 13th? I don't mean to belittle these issues, but are you all aware of the very real threat that on Friday, June 13th Fortress, the parent company of CWCapital, will use a questionable contract clause to instantly become the owners of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village?

Right this instant we all need to start talking about what we are going to do about Fortress and the other sharks circling us. The writing is on the wall. It's about to happen again. Tishman Speyer redux. The financial press is speculating, full of scenarios providing detailed financial road maps to our demise.

Are we going to be a docile, apathetic group of tenants or are we going to fight for our community and our homes now, on June 13th, and after that?

A show of OUR STRENGTH starts at 10:00 am on the 13th, when members of our community will assemble on the steps of City Hall to demonstrate our backing of the elected representatives who right now are working to try to save us from a predatory takeover. Let's show Mayor de Blasio that we are a community worth saving. It’s worth making a serious effort to swell the group that will be bused to City Hall and back.

Adding a third or more debt to the property in yet another over-leveraged buyout will lead to problems for everyone of us in our community. These problems will be similar to, and assuredly worse than, what we have faced since 2006.

Two core groups make up our community and must stay united.

We all need to be aware of the dangers we face and need to start talking with and educating our neighbors.

The first group -- the young families, responsible singles and couples -- I like to call the "New Stabilizers". The New Stabilizers have held on, many by their fingernails, so they can convert their high rents into more affordable long term equity. Members of this group, some of whom are the most vulnerable, have been waiting patiently, even anxiously, to buy their apartments.

To the New Stabilizers, more debt means management pressure to close the gap between lower Preferential Rents and the above-market, high Legal Rents. The point will come when large numbers of them will be driven from a community that has suited their needs. More instability for everyone.

It's heartbreaking that New Stabilizers will have to uproot their children from the fantastic public schools like PS 40 and JHS 104, the schools that I and others here got the opportunity to go to. These parents will have the painful task of explaining to their kids why they have to make new friends as they are forced out of the city to find another home. For this group a takeover by anyone other than the tenants is the tipping point.
To the second group -- long-term traditionally rent-stabilized tenants -- there's a target on your back too. You’re not as easy to hit, but they’ll try. Using the same tactics so ferociously applied by Tishman, it will mean more opportunistic legal challenges to renewing your affordable lease. Demolition of your building is also a possible -- and perfectly lawful -- means for your eviction. Demolition of the the aging structures and development of our green spaces with shiny new towers is one sure way to pay down the debt.

For all of us, a tenant-led purchase is the only defense against a new predatory landlord.

For the long-term rent-stabilized tenant it means the ability to stay in your home and enjoy the same rent stabilized protections you always have.

A new predatory landlord means higher fees (not just for changing your light bulbs), and more bad leasing policies which only expand the number of subdivided apartments, create higher concentrations of roommates in dorm-like occupancy, and more of the inevitable noise that accompanies it.

One of the things we all share is the desire and opportunity for our children and our neighbors’ children to be able to grow up in the same safe, unique, extraordinary city setting many longer term tenants have had.

Churn, transients, predatory speculation are the problems.

The answer is the young stabilizing families, responsible couples and singles vesting in their community and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their longer term neighbors.

If ever there was a time to be vocal and visible that time is now. If we just accept what might happen on June 13th, we and our children will have to face the consequences.

On Friday, June 13th we must fill the steps of City Hall to show prospective buyers they will have deal with us, period.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Another summary

Each day, it seems, we get a summary of the potential sale of ST/PCV.  This one is pretty thorough:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-19/fortress-circling-nyc-s-stuyvesant-town-draws-sale-closer.html

Note this, however:

In November 2012, CWCapital and MetLife reached an agreement to settle litigation by tenants alleging rent overcharges. There are 4,311 apartments whose rents are restricted under the settlement, reached after the state Court of Appeals found that tax breaks received by the former owners limited their rights to raise rents to the market rate, said Alexander Schmidt of the law firm Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, which represented the tenants in court.

The restrictions would expire starting in June of 2020, as each lease runs out, and the landlord would then be entitled to a market rent, Schmidt said. A renter who renews his lease that May for two years would remain rent restricted until 2022, he said.

“Between June of 2020 and May of 2022, they’ll be rolling off unit by unit,” he said in a phone interview. 

The above doesn't take into account the very real possibility of rent-stabilization renewal.  All apartments in ST/PCV are currently rent-stabilized. There'd be a lot of howling if such a renewal didn't happen.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Affordable Housing Will Continue to Evaporate in ST/PCV

While attention is being paid to recent news that CWCapital will be foreclosing on ST/PCV, making way for a sale, perhaps to its parent company Fortress Investment, a basic truth still remains despite the hopes and wishes of tenants, the TA or local politicians: Affordable housing will continue to evaporate in ST/PCV. About the only potential stoppage to this would be powerful and fairly immediate outside involvement from lawmakers and the city (sorry, not Dan Garodnick) which would mandate the cessation of renovating apartments in the complex once a long-time tenant moves out or dies, or separate such renovations from a landlord's ability to charge market-rate prices for the finished apartment. Both possibilities are unrealistic. There is still an outside chance that the city could compel our future landlord to set aside a portion of units in ST/PCV as "affordable housing," but you can bet that portion will be relatively small to the amount of affordable units that are available now.  Perhaps some other strategy exists that hasn't been much discussed, something so devious and unexpected that would shake the assured plans of a landlord, but that is unknown at this point and perhaps just a pipe dream.

While local politicians may make crowd-pleasing speeches about compelling CWCapital or Fortress to keep a stock of apartments affordable, the truth is that the long-time RS apartments ARE affordable (to the degree that they can be) because those apartments are under rent-stabilization protection. So if Fortress does become the owner of this complex, it can't just remove long-time RS tenants at will. There are tenant-protection laws on the books, needing to be periodically renewed, of course, that grant RS tenants the protections they need.

Organized and involved tenants in ST/PCV have always been a problem to the landlord. Though the trajectory has been, and will be, for the landlord to win most of the battles here, the absence of an organized and concerned tenant base will give a landlord free rein, and this is something we can't allow. That's why, despite the disappointment some tenants feel with the TA's goals and results, I believe it is an organization that still should be supported by the tenants.

But I also believe that each tenant holds the opportunity to put a landlord's "feet to the fire" and that individually we still haven't used the power that exists in the law books to our advantage. This, I think, should be our goal: to be aware of our power and, importantly, to use it to make sure we have a quality of life that makes living here pleasant and relatively trouble-free.

Friday, May 16, 2014

My Response to Tim Collins, TA Counsel

In a comment made on this blog on May 15th, Tim Collins, head counsel for the Tenants Association, wrote:

On November 8, 2013 following the TA meeting in which I explained what the TA faced with regard to the MCI fight, Stuy Town Reporter said...
 

3) Collins stated with assurance that the DHCR errors would delay the MCI charges, but that it's not a certainty that all or some of the MCI charges could be stopped. That's what the fight will be about.
November 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Now that you trashed my good name and distorted my legal advice by implying in your more recent posts that I promised a permanent recission of the MCI increases (contrary to your own characterization of my statements back in November and any reasonable interpretation of the audio tapes), and now that I fully explained my position and responded to questions re the MCI settlement at the May 10th meeting, perhaps you will issue a public apology.

It is the honorable thing to do.

Tim Collins


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

I wrote back that I would review everything and make a post on the matter, issuing a public apology if warranted.

This is that post.

Let me immediately get the following out of the way: On May 2, I made a post, after hearing a portion of the audio tape of the November Town Hall TA meeting that was provided by a blog reader and not, as promised, by the TA. This was my post:

The "money-shot" is around the 19:00 mark. Tim Collins, TA counsel:
"The good news is that I'm fairly confident--I can never make any guarantees--but I'm quite confident that every single one of those MCI orders is going to be rescinded."

My comment:

Wow. Wow. Just wow. 


All I did in the above was quote exactly what I heard on the audio tape. I did not, however, proceed to listen at that point to what came afterward because there was a break of vigorous, joyful applause and I was involved with imperative distracting work that forced me away from continuing on. And, frankly, blood was already squirting out of my eyes at the bravado of such a statement because, from the vantage point of time, no MCIs had been rescinded. Tenants and CWCapital received notice of the DHCR affirming these MCI's in October and they were attached to our rent bills in January. So the statement "I'm quite confident that every single one of those MCI orders is going to be rescinded" was bewildering and infuriating in the face of the reality that occurred afterward with our rent bills and the MCI settlement between the TA and CWCapital.

I was later informed in the comments section that after the applause Tim Collins said the following:

"But before you get your hopes up too much, it'll only be temporary, and we'll be back to square one."

At this point, I listened to this sentence, though its beginning was, and is still, garbled to me by the noise in the hall. I concentrated then on what was meant by "rescinded," for, whether temporary or permanent, the MCIs had not been rescinded at all. (Mr. Collins is free to correct me on this point.)

I regret one thing: I was going to attach to that May 2nd post Mr. Collins' statement ""But before you get your hopes up too much, it'll only be temporary, and we'll be back to square one," but other events and concerns distracted me in the debate that continued on in the comments section for that post, which did include Mr. Collins' further words and comments taking his side.  My mistake. So, if I led anyone to believe that Tim Collins affirmed at that November meeting that the MCIs were going be rescinded permanently and with certainty that was not my intention and for that Mr. Collins does have my apology.  I will review and revise any prior statements I may have made that even give a hint of such an implication.

Onward....

The "square one" that Tim Collins spoke of was slightly amplified later on by him at that November meeting. The "rescinding" of the MCI orders (by the DHCR) would have meant that the TA would challenge once again their justification, with both parties presenting their case before the DHCR. That was the important back to "square one." It appears that we never reached that stage because talks between the TA and CWCapital took a different turn, with the result being the MCI Settlement that gave long-term RS tenants a 5% reduction on these MCIs (to evaporate once the RS tenant moved out or died) and a removal of all retroactive charges attached to the MCIs. There was no legal fight before the DHCR on these MCIs, so that, for instance, the MCI for shoddy work on the sidewalks is now affirmed as a just MCI permanently attached to the rents of those buildings affected. An important point to consider: Had the TA won on this one MCI, the retroactive charges, if they stood, would have been less because there'd be one less MCI to charge for retroactively.

If one listens to the November Town Hall meeting and juxtaposes it to the reality that followed, they are two different impulses: In one, the fight is against the MCIs with the "retroactive charges" considered for what they are: temporary and not attached permanently to the rent rolls. In the other, the removal of the retroactive charges has become the primary victory with the MCIs a cross tenants must bear because of the pro-landlord laws of the State.

It is understood that talks between two combating entities are fluid, with a give and take that can erase or alter previous plans and goals. As I've stated several times already, I am thankful that the retroactive charges for the MCIs have been removed and for this the TA and its counsel (Mr. Collins, et al.) should be applauded. I am not thankful that affordable housing has once again lost the battle in ST/PCV because unjust MCIs have now been codified in rents that will be the basis for more higher rents on long-term RS apartments with every lease renewal.  On this important issue, CWCapital stuck to their plan and won, and long-term RS tenants lost.

If Mr. Collins wishes to respond to the above, I will gladly post his statement below.

UPDATE:  5/22/2014

Tim Collins has responded, and as promised, here is his statement:

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

STR:

First, I appreciate your integrity in printing my post.

Second, I accept your explanation and apology (although a limited apology). The fact that a formal "recission" of the MCI orders was not issued (even if temporary) came as a major surprise to me. DHCR's issuance of orders without consideration of the TA's last set of submissions was a flat violation of due process -- a violation of the type that has routinely resulted in remands from the courts. Despite the strength of our position in seeking recission, it was not worth wasting resources on a short term correction of the problem. We needed to focus on a long term resolution. Hence we did not launch a court challenge to the MCI increases in place during the negotiations. There are several other tactical reasons for this decision which I won't go into.

Third, I understand your disappointment and disagreement with the final deal. Nonetheless, I had the difficult task of weighing our chances of success in litigatino against securing the deal on the table. I am very familiar with DHCR practices. They often allow owner do-overs if the MCI's are found to be defective. Even if we won on the pavement MCI (due to defects) DHCR probably would have allowed corrections and reinstated the increases at a later date. Tenants continue to have the right to raise service complaints for items that are in disrepair.

The elimination of large retroactive charges was a significant achievement. The prior 23% reduction of the increases applied for by the owner had already addressed many of the objections we raised in our (ignored or misplaced) submissions. Hence, our target had been narrowed. By the way, TA submissions which predated my involvement were submitted and considered by the DHCR and may have played a significant role in achieving those initial reductions. Removing an extra 5% rendered the overall reduction quite good.

I must add that it is annoying and demoralizing to listen to a bunch of Monday morning quarterbacks second guess the hard work of the TA leadership. I can tell you that the TA's leadership is vigorous (some close to militant) and very well informed of the issues. They spend a huge amount of time and effort trying to best serve the tenants. Nothing is perfect. There is always room for disagreement. But personal attacks (from some of your readers) are cheap, ill informed and unwarranted.

Finally -- and I will be blunt -- anyone who says that support for the TA is inconsistent with the best interests of the tenants is an idiot. The TA remains -- far and away -- the best hope for the tenants. In addition, every one of the elected officials I have dealt with supports reform of the MCI laws. Some form of MCI increases will always be necessary to encourage building upgrades and sustainability. But the current laws are badly in need of reform -- particularly to the extent that such increases are permanent.

I thank you in advance for printing this. And I hope that you will play a constructive role in keeping tenants informed of important issues -- perhaps in occasional opposition to some TA policies, but hopefully in loyal opposition.

Tim Collins

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

De Blasio Administration in “active discussions” with lenders and the tenants over PCVST

Or so states the NY Times in this article of interest to all of us:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/14/nyregion/stuyvesant-town-lender-prepares-to-foreclose-on-a-loan-for-the-complex.html?_r=0

The de Blasio administration said it had already started “active discussions” with lenders and the tenants “in the hopes of reaching a joint agreement.”

“Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village are critical bulwarks of affordability for middle class families,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said in a statement. “Our housing plan emphasizes preservation, and with so many affordable units at risk in these developments, the stakes are too high to be hands off.”

It is unlikely that Mr. de Blasio could stop a sale, but few buyers are going to want to antagonize a mayor with whom they will have to deal again and again, Mr. LeFrak said. Mr. de Blasio could be helpful to a bidder working with the tenants’ association, or one who promises to preserve a significant block of apartments for middle-income residents.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Yes, But is it Legal?



I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV, but I can't help wondering if the incestuous relationship in the possible purchase of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village is legal.

Here's the trail:

CWCapital is the special servicer in charge of PCVST.  "CW Capital’s primary responsibilities are to maximize recoveries and mitigate risks and losses for the first mortgage investors." CWCapital was sold to Fortress Investment Group a few years ago, in 2010, the very same year that Tishman Speyer defaulted on PCVST and had to give reins over to...CWCapital. Now Fortress Investment Group is seeking financing to buy....Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village. (Note: Like Tishman Speyer, they are not using their own money, but seeking outside financing.) Shouldn't the bidding on this property be on the "open market"? Did Fortress Investement already have a plan to buy PCVST from the very beginning, in which case the TA interest in buying the property with Brookfield as a partner was a Quixotic, pitiful hope that wasted time, energy and emotions?  (A couple of years ago, I heard from a well-positioned inside source that the there was no way the property would be sold to the tenants. This appears not to have been a prediction, but a statement of fact, if the above all pans out.)

In it's a small world department, we learn that "Fortress was founded as a private equity firm in 1998 by former BlackRock and UBS executives."  BlackRock was in partnership with Tishman Speyer when this complex was sold by MetLife back in 2006.

The real concern is that CompassRock (a subsidiary of CWCaptial) has run this place terribly and would probably continue on as manager, since CompassRock=CWCapital=Fortress Investment. I'm almost willing to have Ivanka Trump run this place rather than these bastards.

Whatever the connections and whatever the plans, we do see, once again, that we, the tenants, are insignificant to the Powers That Be and will always be. It's a big fucking Monopoly game, and we don't even have the money or influence to own Mediterranean Avenue.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Visual Examples of the Future for NYC and Stuy Town Leaked!

I can't reveal how I obtained these, but the following are several visual examples of what NYC is projected to look like under the chummy cooperation of the De Blasio administration and NYC Real Estate. These photos come from recent secret meetings held between the two entities to tackle the problem of housing. As can be seen, the ruling concept is "density" and rezoning to allow the building of massive residential spires and the use of previously untouchable "towers in the park" space.

*     *     *

Students, both very young and older, occupy a Stuy Town apartment in a tier arrangement that allows for at least 12 people to occupy one living space:


 After the removal of SCRIE benefits, the senior population will not be able to afford rents in PCVST and will be housed in cages somewhere offsite, perhaps even in Staten Island:


Building codes will be considerably relaxed to make way for maximum density usage of space. Stuy Town apartments will be reconfigured, allowing for several apartments where only one existed before. Here we see a typical Stuy Town apartment that uniquely integrates bedroom, dining area and kitchen:


A crowd gathers at the Oval Lawn to watch the latest Summer Program. The student population of PCVST will have reached 125,000, and with the addition of students converging from the surrounding neighborhood, PCVST events will prove to be extremely popular. For residents and their guests.


Our neighbors at Waterside Plaza will see their buildings also transformed in the name of density:


It still will take decades to remove all older three or four story dwellings that exist in the city, as can be seen in this photo, but they are surely marked for the bulldozer and replacement by modern spires.


 Hoarders will not have a good time of it in the new NYC:


Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village will get several transformations. Ultimately most of park space will be eradicated in favor of towers much higher than allowable at present, and they will be built considerably closer together.  In honor of tradition, however, a few trees from what some naively call "the good old days" will remain (foreground).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Could Tishman-Speyer Return to PCVST in a Partnership with the Chinese?

Could Tishman-Speyer return to PCVST in a partnership with Vanke, the largest Chinese real estate development company, now expanding into the United States. The two entities have already combined financial forces. Warning: The year-old video below contains an interview with Rob Speyer. Not to be viewed while you are eating or if you have a heart condition or are frightened easily.


Vanke already will have a presence in NYC with a 61-story "high-end condominium project located in Midtown Manhattan."

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304071004579406461707487956

Thursday, May 8, 2014

De Blasio's New Housing Plan Takes Aim at "Towers in the Park"



A pdf of the plan:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/housing/assets/downloads/pdf/housing_plan.pdf

It seems that De Blasio is very much aware of the problem of affordable housing and will attempt to save rent-stabilized apartments and build new housing stock.

But I'm cautious about adding more density to certain neighborhoods and loosening zoning regulations--gifts, I believe, to Real Estate.

This caught my attention, too, on page 71:

MODIFY "TOWER-IN-THE-PARK" ZONING REGULATIONS TO BETTER ENABLE APPROPRIATE DEVELOPMENT FOR UNDERUSED LAND FOR HOUSING AND MIXED USE

From the 1940s to the 1970s, many large sites were developed under Mitchell Lama and other programs with high-rise housing in a “tower-in-the-park” configuration. These sites are governed by special zoning rules that require large expanses of open space, often occupied by open parking lots. These open areas potentially provide opportunities to site new housing, including affordable units. However, zoning restrictions would need to be eased. The City will initiate zoning changes to facilitate development on these large sites while preserving light, air and usable recreation space.

Folks, you do realize that Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village is the largest "Tower-in-the-Park" area in the city?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Sign That Real Estate Literally, Psychologically, Politically and Socially Owns NYC - The Despicable Rob Speyer Hosts Mayor De Blasio Birthday Party


How did one of the most despicable characters to cross the threshold of the perimeters of PCVST, who fucked up our community big-time, and who had to leave with his tail between his legs as a Big Failure, get into such positions of power and influence that he can co-host a birthday bash for the "Commie" Mayor of NYC, Bill de Blasio?

Read it and weep:

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2014/05/8544904/speyer-and-mccray-host-birthday-bash-de-blasio

And while your there, read this and weep, too:

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/real-estate/2014/05/8544770/record-air-rights-sale-theater-district-just-beginning

Bloomberg's NYC continues.



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Another Outrageous PR Article in Town & Village, This Time About PCVST Landscaping

http://town-village.com/2014/05/02/stpcv-undergoing-landscape-renovation/

Shameful, but by now to be expected it seems, Town & Village has another CWCapital PR piece in this week's paper, this time about PCVST landscaping. It's not that there's an interview with the property’s director of horticulture and landscape, Chuck Hardsell Hartsell, who is just doing the bidding of his masters, CWCapital, but that editor/chief writer Sabina Mollot takes the company line about the conditions of the Oval without questioning them.

Quoting Sabina: "The planting was all part of a renovation that began shortly after CWCapital took over the property in 2010. At that time the grounds were overplanted and the Oval, which had drainage issues and swells and dips, was in a condition that could be described as fair to poor."

Wrong, Sabina. The condition of the Oval before the redesign by CWCapital was not "fair to poor." In fact, the condition was just fine and many people, including myself (who used to spend considerable free time at the Oval), found the gardens and foliage and shading trees quite beautiful and very welcome.

Sabina even has the gall to continue with this astounding statement:

"But these days the Oval is doing much better, far better in fact than expected."

Oh, really, Sabina?

Well, let's take a look at "these days," in particular today, when I took photos of the Oval in the morning. I started at the northern side of the Oval and went around. Click on photos to make them larger.

There used to be a lush garden here:


 Trees and foliage dominated this area:


This area, near the chess tables, used to be my favorite lunch hangout. Foliage and flowers insulated one with nature's beauty. No more, as can be seen by this barrenness:
                       


The view from the chess tables. Not very inviting with the intrusion of the new Public Safety office:



The view straight on. Again, the new landscaping "motif" of barrenness rules, forcing one to be aware of the project-like buildings on the other side of the Oval.


The Ugly Offender. The new Public Safety office, with its generators, dominates this part of the Oval:


 More of the Ugly Offender. Perhaps Mr. Hartsell can plant cabbages here:


There's no getting away from the blight that is the new Security Office area. I'm sure we'll be charged a new MCI for this, too!


 The "barren motif" replaced the lush and lovely foliage and flowers that were here, in front of the the children's playground:


 The "garden" area to the left of Oval Cafe. Well done, Mr. Hartsell:


There has been some temporary planting of flowers at parts of the Oval, small spaces where some color blooms. But in this case, at the Oval Cafe, help is needed. Calling Mr. Hartsell and his ace gardeners:


A tangent on our tour. No mention that the Oval Cafe is just for the use of "Residents and Their Guests." Thank you, Dan and CW.


The area near the western chess tables. Lush once, but no more. I do smell the invigorating odor of mulch, however:


The pathetic view from that side of the Oval:


So what do you think, Sabina?  Is the Oval these days "doing much better, far better in fact than expected"? You've visited us many times in the past when the Oval was doing much better, and you know it. As I wrote earlier, shameful.

UPDATE: 5/7/2014

Checking Mr. Hartsell's Linkedin's profile, it seems that before his promotion he had ZERO experience in horticulture or landscaping:

Director, Horticulture and Landscape Management at Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town

CompassRock Real Estate

Privately Held; 1001-5000 employees; Real Estate industry
December 2012Present (1 year 6 months) Greater New York City Area
Public Company; 501-1000 employees; Real Estate industry
April 2012December 2012 (9 months) Greater New York City Area

Account Manager

Brickman

Privately Held; 5001-10,000 employees; Environmental Services industry
July 2006December 2011 (5 years 6 months)

Monday, May 5, 2014

De Blasio's Housing Plan: Adding more density to NYC?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/06/nyregion/de-blasio-affordable-housing-plan.html?hpw&rref=nyregion&_r=0#permid=11730950

Mayor Bill de Blasio took to Brooklyn and the Bronx on Monday to outline an ambitious housing plan that envisions adding density to New York City by encouraging the construction of more residential buildings while ensuring that they include affordable homes for poor and middle-income residents.

More at the above link.

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

I thought NYC was dense enough as it is... At least Manhattan appears to be.

Shouldn't the primary goal be securing the affordable housing that still remains and is being depleted month after month? And what about that rent freeze?

Bill Clinton Joins TA Counsel Team!


We've just learned that former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, has joined the Tenants Association legal team, at least in an advisory position. President Clinton, a former lawyer (once disbarred), will craft a statement that will be read at the forthcoming May 10th Tenants Association meeting which will explain the meaning of the word "rescind."

The TA released a statement early Monday morning: "We at the TA were particularly impressed with how the President handled the meaning of the word 'is' in his 1998 grand jury testimony, and we felt we needed his expert legal advice on explaining the word 'rescind' to tenants who still don't understand that the MCIs that tenants received were actually rescinded, according to the confident prediction of TA counsel, Tim Collins, before the 'rescind' was rescinded by CWCapital in January. We feel President Clinton is best suited to figure out how to explain all this to tenants and how the MCI settlement reached between the TA and CWCapital is a victory for tenants and affordable housing."

The surprise presence of the former president came about due to a personal connection one member of the TA staff has with former Secretary of State and former New York State Senator Hillary Clinton.

Donations to the Tenants Association can be made at www.stpcvta.org/donate/.

Friday, May 2, 2014

It's HERE! An audio of the November 2 Town Hall Meeting!

A tenant has kindly passed on his own recording of the meeting. Thank you very much!

https://soundcloud.com/dave10009/stpcv-tenants-association-meeting-2013-11-02

UPDATE:

The "money-shot" is around the 19:00 mark. Tim Collins, TA counsel:

"The good news is that I'm fairly confident--I can never make any guarantees--but I'm quite confident that every single one of those MCI orders is going to be rescinded."

My comment:

Wow. Wow. Just wow.

UPDATE 5/16/14:

After loud applause, Mr. Collins continued:

"But before you get your hopes up too much, it'll only be temporary, and we'll be back to square one."