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Thread: Stuyvesant Town

  1. #1

    Default Stuyvesant Town

    Does anyone live or know anyone who lives in Stuyvesant Town ?

    If so what are your / their thoughts on life there ? Is it value for money ? What about amenities ? How long does it take to get to the Financial District or Central Park (for instance) ? Are there lots of families living in the 'Town' ?

    Any info would be much appreciated !

  2. #2


    The nickname would be Stuy Town, not "The Town."

    People tend to think it's an over-priced mess. Read up here:

  3. #3


    I'm not a big fan of Stuyvesant Town. I generally dislike the atmosphere of Manhattan's whole East side, especially Midtown East and the East Village. I lived in Stuyvesant Town for 4 days, moved to west 105th street and it is the best decision I have ever made regarding New York City. I am finally happy in a peaceful one bedroom 2 minutes to Central Park. Yes, Stuyvesant is overpriced, and yes there are lots of families. All in all, I think it's extremely bland, and another downside is that the closest subway is 14th street (I think).

  4. #4


    The owners are also apparently facing foreclosure, which could turn things into a mess. You can get a better deal for the money, in my opinion.

  5. #5
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    March 15, 2009
    Stuyvesant Town

    Behind an Outsize Court Case, Two Everyday Tenants


    “I feel really proud to be a part of something that’s bigger than all of us,” said Beth Rosner Giokas, near left, with Amy Roberts.

    THE two women had never met, and from their appearance, looked like they never might. On a recent morning, Amy Roberts, a 41-year-old business consultant, sat in a cafe near Stuyvesant Town, her short blond hair grazing her classic black turtleneck. Across the table sat a 48-year-old theatrical manager named Beth Rosner Giokas, who was sporting purple fingernails and whose curly dark hair cascaded over a glittery red shirt.

    The two women quickly discovered common ground: Both lived in Stuyvesant Town, on the East Side; both were single mothers raising young daughters; and both were among nine plaintiffs in a landmark decision that could reshape the city’s rental landscape.

    On March 5, an appeals court ruled that the landlord of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village had raised rents and deregulated apartments after receiving special tax breaks. The decision could cost the landlord, Tishman Speyer, and the previous owner, Metropolitan Life, more than $200 million in restitution, said a lawyer for the tenants.

    The ramifications could reach further. Any landlord in the city who accepted what are known as J-51 tax breaks while raising rents above a certain threshold could be in similar trouble.

    The plaintiffs in the case, including Ms. Roberts and Ms. Rosner Giokas, represented thousands of residents who paid market-rate rent. They saw the situation as a matter of principle as well as something personal.
    “I feel really proud to be a part of something that’s bigger than all of us,” Ms. Rosner Giokas said.

    The first suspicion about the tax break issue surfaced in 2006 during the tenants’ failed bid to buy the complex, recalled Alvin Doyle, president of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.

    Months later came the announcement of the record $5.4 billion purchase of the complexes, leading both women to worry that their homes were at risk.
    “I like villages and I like cities and I don’t do suburbs,” said Ms. Rosner Giokas, who was born in the complex and returned in 2003 after more than a decade on the Greek island of Santorini. “What I have with Stuyvesant Town is a village in a city.”

    Ms. Roberts, who moved to the complex in 2004, began scouring tenant discussion boards for rumors about raised rents. By December 2006, she had received a significant rent increase. She considered moving but ultimately stayed. And when she was asked by the tenants association if she wanted to participate in a lawsuit, she agreed.

    “You just have to have a little bit of willingness to put yourself out there,” Ms. Roberts said.

    Ms. Rosner Giokas also heard rumors about the tax breaks. “If there’s something being done wrong,” she said, “then somebody should step up and make sure it’s not done.”

    When the lawsuit was filed in 2007, the document claimed that Tishman Speyer and Metropolitan Life had received $24.5 million in tax breaks while deregulating more than 3,000 of the 11,200 apartments.

    Despite the court decision, Ms. Roberts isn’t celebrating quite yet. The landlord said it will pursue an appeal.

    “Who knows what the future holds?” Ms. Roberts said with a half-smile. “It’s not done.”

  6. #6


    N.Y. Landlords Fight Back as Rent Refunds Loom

    Published: March 14, 2009

    The real estate industry in New York City is mobilizing with an intensity not seen in years as it faces an almost unheard-of possibility: a court order that it may have to return hundreds of millions of dollars in rent.

    John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times
    Tishman Speyer’s purchase of Stuyvesant Town was predicated on the notion that it could deregulate apartments.

    The state appeals court decision bars New York City landlords from deregulating apartment rents while receiving a popular tax break meant to encourage building renovations. Industry officials say the decision could affect as many as 80,000 apartments in the city, trigger widespread defaults on loans, eliminate construction jobs and reduce property tax revenues for the city.

    “We all understand that this would be disastrous,” said Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, a group representing 25,000 property owners and managers.
    Tenant advocates said the real estate industry was exaggerating the impact of the decision. The problem is not the decision, but the landlords who misinterpreted state law, they said.

    The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court ruled on March 5 that the landlord for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, adjoining complexes with 11,232 apartments on the East Side of Manhattan, had improperly deregulated more than 3,000 apartments and raised rents beyond prescribed levels, while receiving special property tax breaks from the city.

    A lawyer for the tenants who brought the suit estimated that the decision could cost the landlord, Tishman Speyer Properties, more than $200 million if it is forced to repay tenants for improper rent increases over the last four years.

    But the consequences extend far beyond Stuyvesant Town.

    The tax breaks, known as the J-51 program, have been given to thousands of landlords, large and small, for building renovations. If the ruling stands, any landlord who deregulated rents after receiving the tax exemptions might have to repay tenants for rent overcharges.

    On Thursday afternoon, Tishman Speyer filed a motion asking the Appellate Division for permission to take the case to the Court of Appeals and to hold off carrying out the decision until there is a final resolution.

    The court granted the stay on Friday, but put off deciding whether to allow the appeal. It also said that starting in April, Tishman Speyer must put into an interest-bearing escrow account the difference between the rent it charged for the affected apartments and the rent it would have charged if the apartments were still subject to rent regulations.

    There are about a million apartments with regulated rents in New York City. Under state law, landlords can deregulate an apartment when the rent for a vacant apartment reaches $2,000 or more per month, or the rent is above $2,000 and a tenant’s household income is above $175,000 for two consecutive years. Once deregulated, the landlord can raise the rent to market rate.

    But in cases where landlords make significant building renovations, they are allowed to pass along a portion of the renovation costs to the tenants’ rent. As a result, landlords can raise rents that exceed or approach the $2,000 deregulation threshold.

    The Bloomberg administration, which had supported Tishman Speyer’s record-breaking$5.4 billion purchase of Stuyvesant Town in 2006, has not taken a position on the case.

    The court decision has also intensified the real estate industry’s opposition to proposed legislation in Albany that would expand rent regulations and severely undercut building owners’ abilities to raise rents quickly. Tenant advocates, citing skyrocketing rents and the loss of housing for poor and working-class tenants during the real estate boom, have made a concerted effort to lobby elected officials to strengthen the regulatory system.

    A package of 10 pro-tenant bills was approved by the State Assembly earlier this year and sent to the Senate, where landlords have focused their lobbying efforts. In the past, the real estate industry depended on Republican leadership in the Senate — which the Democrats now control, by 32 to 30 members — or a sympathetic Republican governor to block such bills.

    “Everybody’s worried,” said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, the industry’s influential lobbying arm. “This is legislation that’ll ruin housing and ruin investment.”

    Mr. Spinola was in Albany two weeks ago, lobbying the Senate majority leader, Malcolm A. Smith; Senator Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx; Senator Dean G. Skelos of Long Island, the Republican minority leader; and others. This week, members of the Community Housing Improvement Program, an association representing apartment building owners in the city, made their own lobbying trip to Albany.

    Mr. Strasburg, of the stabilization association, has called for an industry summit meeting in April. His group is also appealing to building contractors and unions that it says would lose work if landlords stopped renovating their buildings because of the proposed legislation or the court decision.

    “All of a sudden, people who had dropped off the face of our earth have re-emerged and seen the seriousness of this,” Mr. Strasburg said.

    Tenant advocates say that hundreds of thousands of formerly rent-regulated apartments have been converted to luxury rentals over the past decade, contributing to a housing crisis in New York. Michael McKee, treasurer of the Tenants Political Action Committee, said he argued 12 years ago that the state was improperly allowing landlords of buildings receiving J-51 tax breaks to deregulate apartments and raise rents.

    “The tenant movement has never been more united,” Mr. McKee said.

    It was the 2006 sale of Stuyvesant Town, a traditionally working- and middle-class enclave where more than three-quarters of the apartments were rent-regulated, that galvanized tenant advocates. Tishman Speyer’s purchase was based on the idea that it could profit by removing apartments from rent stabilization after significant renovations.

    But tenants facing rent increases of 20 to 30 percent filed a lawsuit in 2007 arguing that Tishman Speyer had no right to deregulate apartments in buildings that had received $24.5 million in tax breaks since 1992 under the J-51 program.

    The program was designed to encourage landlords to make building improvements.

    The State Supreme Court initially dismissed the case, but the Appellate Division ruled in the tenants’ favor, seriously undercutting Tishman Speyer’s ability to increase revenues from the complexes. The company was already under financial pressure from bondholders because the process of converting apartments to market rates has gone more slowly than expected.

    If the court decision stands, apartments that had been improperly deregulated would again be subject to rent regulations and landlords would have to repay tenants for rent increases that exceeded annual increases set by the Rent Guidelines Board over the past four years. In some cases, the law allows tenants to seek triple damages.

    Many large landlords contend they relied on the guidance of the state’s housing agency when they deregulated apartments. But the Appellate Division also relied on documents from the housing agency, as well as state law. Indeed, the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, in a 1995 operational guideline, insisted that buildings receiving tax breaks could not be deregulated.

    Last week, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal advised tenants on its Web site to file complaints against their landlords for rent overcharges if they think they were affected by the court decision.

    Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

  7. #7

  8. #8
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    west village


    i know people that live and have lived in stuy town. i worked next to it too for awhile.

    it's kind of out of the way and removed from everything and that can be a pain.

    a lot of middle class city employee type folks live there, like teachers and the like. one of the few remaining refuges for whats left of the middle class.

    unless you like a dull, quiet life i agree you can probably do better elsewhere. otherwise, it's worth at least going over and talking a look and a walk around. if you do let us know what you think.

  9. #9
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    I thought the photos were self-explanatory, but my point was surprise at the seemingly poor condition of what I always thought of as a well-maintained and reasonably agreeable place to live, albeit not everyone's cup of tea. I wondered if the decline coincided with or closely followed its sale by Metlife, or if there are other factors involved?

  10. #10
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    August 5,2009

    Welcome To Stuy Town U

    For years Stuyvesant Town was a middle-class oasis in Manhattan. Now college kids looking for a good deal are taking over. HENRY MELCHER tries to understand why his neighbors love to hate him.

    By Henry Melcher

    (click to enlarge)

    TWO GIRLS IN skimpy white bikinis soak their feet in the fountain at the center of the Oval. Nearby, a couple of muscular guys casually flex as they toss a football back and forth for the admiring girls. Another young woman leans back against the fountain’s edge while her small terrier tries to lick her face.

    The green lawn is littered with tanning twentysomethings and their picnic blankets, gossip magazines, iPods and BlackBerrys. It could be a sunny photo of a collegiate quad for an admission’s guidebook. But it’s not. We’re looking at the center of Stuyvesant Town’s 61-acre housing complex.

    At the edges of the scene are the young parents with blankets and chairs watching their children play tag. And just at the fringes of the Oval’s grassy area—out of easy view of the young interlopers—are the older residents. A few sit on benches, the others in wheelchairs located on a dirt path beside their foreign-born nurses. Here, technology consists of clunky old radios with long antennas. If you listen closely, the hum of classical music or an opera aria fills the air.

    This idyllic summertime scene camouflages the grumbling going on. The retirees, some of them who have been living in their rentcontrolled residences since the property opened in the 1940s for returning WWII veterans and their families, suffered through the ups and downs of New York’s bad days and have weathered many a financial crisis. They still recall their wariness when the young professionals began to arrive a decade ago to start families. It seemed like a rejuvenation of the aging population, a new generation coming to take their place.

    Nothing seemed to change all that much while MetLife remained the owners of the sprawling East Village complex. Soon after real estate giant Tishman Speyer’s 2006 purchase of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village for $5.4 billion, the largest real estate purchase in American history, the college kids began to show up. According to many Stuy Town residents, what once was considered a middle-class oasis in the heart of the city has become a dorm overrun by noisy, binge-drinking, pot-smoking, disrespectful college students—who might even use the stairwells as toilets. I guess I’m one of these reviled college kids. I attend NYU and, as of this summer, I moved into Stuy Town with a roommate only to discover how our neighbors love to hate us.

    Like others only recently arrived to the city, I knew nothing about Stuyvesant Town. I had no interest in moving into dreary brick buildings that reminded me of the city’s lower-income social housing. After three weeks of searching for apartments in the East Village, we walked into the Stuyvesant Town Leasing Office—which resembles a posh design store or trendy Chelsea fusion restaurant— to speak to a representative. The office has floor-to-ceiling windows, red cube chairs and oversized glossy images of smiling young people sipping coffee and picnicking in front of the fountain. There’s even a magnetic board to let prospective renters play around with possible furniture arrangements and floor plans. As an NYU junior, this wasn’t what I was expecting. It seemed—dare I say?—like a cool place to live.

    A young, chirpy brunette showed us a model one-bedroom apartment that had a pressurized wall built in the living room so it could comfortably work as a two-bedroom. The unit had recently undergone luxury upgrades such as granite countertops, new appliances, posh lighting fixtures, a renovated bathroom and brand-new air conditioners. Even with the wall, the living room and both bedrooms were considerably larger and nicer than any apartment we had seen through Craigslist. We would have both a trendy East Village address and be surrounded by trees, green lawns, street hockey and basketball courts. It was the perfect surrounding to sit and study or play Wiffle Ball. Stuy Town felt like the college campus that NYU could never deliver.

    Little did the rep know, but she had us at “dishwasher.” Ready to sign a lease, we were then offered two-months free rent (utilities included). Later we were given two $500 American Express gift cards: one for getting a guarantor form ready within 24 hours and the other for being referred by a tenant (in this case, my roommate’s girlfriend who lived in Peter Cooper Village, the sister property).

    With these perks, my roommate and I were both saving close to $400 a month when compared to the price of NYU dorms. Plus, we had our own bedrooms. Since moving in we have both referred friends, which means we’ll each receive another $500 gift card. Stuy Town is also now offering a free year’s lease on a Mini Cooper for the tenant that refers the most people. It was clear that Stuy Town was looking to fill apartments and was bending over backward to get us into a unit.

    Of the 89 brick towers in Stuy Town, four contain floor-to-ceiling glass sanctuaries on the ground floors. Rebranded Oval Lounge, Oval Film, Oval Study and Oval Kids, the community spaces host art shows, cocktail parties, movie screenings and even have a daycare type service. Access to these centers usually includes a $250 enrollment fee, plus an additional $20-a-month fee (for two people), but also includes a state-of-the-art gym. An additional concierge service that—among other perks—will organize a dog walker and book car service is also available. Now, Sunday farmers’ markets and summer concerts on the Oval have attracted many, including non-residents, to the grounds.

    Susan Steinberg, a middle-aged senior marketing manager for an architecture firm, moved in to her one-bedroom Stuy Town apartment in 1980 after she spent two years on the waiting list (it typically took as long as five years before a unit became available). She wasn’t shown her actual apartment before she moved in; she was given an address and a floor plan and told to decide on the spot. All these years later, she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else and jokes she’d only leave Stuy Town “feet first,” but argues she has noticed a deterioration in the property as of late.

    According to Steinberg, who is currently the vice president of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, things first began to change after MetLife went public in 2000. “The maintenance staff was no longer quite as helpful,” she says. “They started outsourcing services and then, all of a sudden, we saw that instead of two porters for every building, there was only one.” Now she blames Tishman Speyer for problems of general upkeep, maintenance and appearance of the grounds. For example, the Oval Lawn used to be a hallowed, keep-off-the-grass spot, not for casual recreation. “Everywhere you look, there are problems. I don’t think [Tishman Speyer] understood what it was to be a residential landlord,” Steinberg explains.

    On the other hand, my roommate and I have had nothing to complain about since we moved in. Every appliance works, we have no mice and our building is always clean. Once I even woke up to the noise of gardeners planting a flowerbed outside of my window.

    Steinberg claims to have seen the effects of the changing housing market first-hand as college students began piling into one-and two-bedrooms in the property. “There’s a lot of tension. It’s a shame,” Steinberg says. “I hate to generalize, but I think a lot of college students are treating it like a dorm and not a real residence. Those who have been living here for a while feel as though they’re not treating things with respect.”

    She has also joined an ongoing class action lawsuit against Tishman Speyer and MetLife for improperly de-regulating apartments while they were receiving tax breaks under the city’s J-51 program.

    Although Tishman Speyer spokespeople declined to comment for this story, it seems clear that they never intended to retrofit the buildings for college kids. In a struggling real estate environment, however, they are desperate to fill as many vacancies as possible. Despite Tishman Speyer’s massive expenditures upgrading apartments and the grounds with new landscaping and playgrounds, the property is still believed to be between 60 to 70 percent rent stabilized.

    The largest disparity can be seen between the rents of these longtime residents versus the newbies. For instance, Steinberg has lived in Stuy Town for nearly 30 years and pays less than $1,000 a month for her onebedroom.The same space, newly renovated, will cost an incoming market-rate tenant roughly $2,500.

    Other than those who are currently in litigation against Tishman Speyer, many unhappy tenants have turned to the Stuy Town Lux Living blog to voice their rage about all things Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. The site is a catalog of nightmare stories about rats, bugs, dirty water, trash buildup, crime and even a dubious tale of one college student defecating in a stairwell.The blog—which receives about 26,000 views a month—makes living in Stuy Town seem absolutely hellish.

    In a recent comment posted on Lux Living, a user named Totally Tished Off wrote: “What the hell are these ‘students’ actually studying? If these are the ‘professionals’ of the future, then God help us all.They look like the lowest form of life on the planet, and I don’t think they will improve over time.” It’s this sort of vitriol that has added fuel to the anti-collegekid fire. Despite the somewhat aggressive, mean and occasionally vindictive posts, the man behind the blog, who only wants to be referred to as Lux, says he wants to keep it somewhat lighthearted.

    “It’s very much like TMZ sort of meets The Daily Show,” explains Lux. He’s an eccentric character himself, with long brown hair and tattoos covering his arms. He wore mirrored aviator sunglasses the entire time we talked in a coffee shop near Stuy Town.

    Lux has since moved out of Stuy Town but says he lived there for nearly a decade starting in late 1998 when he was 22. As a young tenant, he was also viewed with suspicion, but he ended up loving the tranquil living conditions.

    “I’m very much a city person,” Lux says. “I’m not somebody who wanted to bring the suburbs here with me. I very much love the city, but it was nice to have this spacious apartment right off of First Avenue.”

    After Tishman Speyer’s purchase, Lux was recuperating from cancer treatment in his apartment and became aggravated by the non-stop partying around him. “The kids who were living upstairs from us when I lived there would party any Saturday night from about 8 until 2 in the morning, go out and then come back in at 4 and go until late morning.”

    Lux’s blog may have attracted an angry mob that appears ready to burn down the doors of any tenant registered at a college, but others caution that this anonymous forum has sensationalized the problem.

    Joey Arak, 28, senior editor of the real estate blog Curbed, has lived in Stuy Town for over a year and says he has yet to meet a college student, nor has he experienced any excessive noise problems. He feels the hatred for “college students” on the property is fairly misguided.

    “A lot of the time people just see anyone that is under 30 and just assumes that they’re college kids,” he explains. “So they lump everyone into that same kind of demographic.”

    In fact, the only “official” relationship between NYU and Stuy Town has been the 95 apartments the university rents out for graduate students. Next year there will only be 70 apartments, according to John Beckman, a spokesperson for NYU. Beckman says that, despite Stuy Town and many other apartment buildings reducing rent, he hasn’t seen a steep exodus of students moving off-campus even with a slight increase in the price of dorms.

    Although it’s difficult to gauge how many of the new tenants are NYU students, or from other area colleges since no official records are kept on the matter, just visit the first of the month as the Stuy Town roads are filled with trucks from pressurized wall companies. It’s like a college move-in day.

    A market-rate tenant who works in visual marketing and who prefers not to be named, moved in to a Stuy Town apartment three years ago and says the subsequent influx of college students has made her dream of raising a family in Stuy Town impossible. When two 21-year-old students—one from NYU, the other from Fordham—moved in to the apartment below hers, she could no longer take it. “The apartment turned into a university quad, and the type of people that go in and out are the source of the problem more so than the people that live there,” she explains.

    The students were so loud and disruptive that the tenants living below them—who had lived there for 11 years—moved out, according to this tenant. She says she’d like to do the same but is stuck in her lease. The noise problems have led her to make 25 formal complaints to management, and she has even had her doctors call them to plead her case. All the while, the parties and noise continue.

    “I think they’re completely oblivious to the tension they have created,” she says. Similarly, Darcy Tucker, who works in non-profits and moved to Stuy Town in 2004, has seen her hopes of setting down roots in the complex dashed by the college party scene that is surrounding her apartment.

    “They started moving in all around us, next to us, under us, across the hall. We didn’t know our neighbors.” She claims there was pot smoke coming out of the room across the hall. “In the middle of the night they’d have the music on and all their friends over,” says Tucker. “The neighbors don’t talk to you, it feels like a frat house.”

    Tucker is also frustrated that management will not re-negotiate her rent (her one-bedroom has increased from $2,200-$3,450 over four years), but is willing to give college students two months free rent and does not require a security deposit. Also, Stuy Town now boasts luxury amenities, but it is also courting college students who probably won’t pay for them. For many tenants it’s more than the noise problems, pot smoking or even rent hikes. Students are not saying “hi” or holding doors for their neighbors. They are ultimately concerned that a transient community is replacing the neighborhood feel, with students bound only by their one- or two-year leases.

    The housing development that was built to honor soldiers and their families is losing its community appeal. I can sympathize with the loss of community character that these longtime residents feel, and I readily admit that I was certainly just looking for an alternative to dorm life, but somehow it’s followed me to Stuy Town. But maybe the best thing to do is stay put: As the housing market invariably rebounds and rents increase, many of these students will most likely be forced out of the property. It will then be up to those survivors to decide the next chapter in Stuy Town’s history.

  11. #11
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Is Stuyvesant Town Really a Glorified NYU Dorm?

    August 7th, 2009

    "I attend NYU," writes Henry Melcher in the New York Press this week. "And, as of this summer, I moved into Stuy Town with a roommate only to discover how our neighbors love to hate us." Melcher's essay about living in the venerable middle-income housing institution (Say it with us: It. Was. Never. The. Projects.) takes a look at what's been going on in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village from the angle of the much-vilified student population. They are, according to local (older) critics, "noisy, binge-drinking, pot-smoking, disrespectful college students — who might even use the stairwells as toilets." Surely some of them may be such, but many, if not most, are just frugal forward-thinkers creative enough to look outside the NYU dorm box for an interesting new place to live and grow. Also, as Curbed writer Joey Arak points out in this story, many of them are not actually students — but are just pegged as such by grousing older residents because they look under 30.

    The young folk, who do heretofore verboten things like sit on the lovely grassy Oval in the center of the complex, generally get painted by the same brush. “I hate to generalize, but I think a lot of college students are treating it like a dorm and not a real residence," says Tenants Association vice-president Susan Steinberg, who pays $1,000 for a one-bedroom these kids are shelling out $2,500 for. "Those who have been living here for a while feel as though they’re not treating things with respect.”

    As one third of the Daily Intel team lives in Stuy Town, we can assure you there are a handful of young people that make it bad for the rest of us.

    There was a group of what had to be 35 students apparently crammed into the three-bedroom apartment above Intel Chris's early this year, and the noise was so ridiculous that even at the quietest moments you could still hear the bubbling from their water bong through the floor. But after a number of complaints from neighbors, they were kicked out — which is just how it happens in any apartment building anywhere else in the city. It just seems awfully silly to generalize about people so glibly in Stuyvesant Town. After all, you don't read about the "students" complaining at paying one, two, and three times the price for their apartments so that the entire complex can continue operating and rent-controlled tenants can enjoy their market-rate facilities. So maybe let's all take it easy, chill out a bit, and get to know one another. Sit on the Oval and make some friends, why don't you? Maybe those guys upstairs even left their bong behind when they moved out!

  12. #12
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Habitats | Stuyvesant Town
    Just Like Home, Sibling Included


    audio slideshow

    MIRIAM FINK and her younger brother, Benjamin, two 20-somethings who for the past year have shared a Lilliputian-sized apartment in Greenwich Village, moved into Stuyvesant Town in late July. Their parents wouldn’t arrive from Baltimore to help them settle in until a few days later.

    But even with the walls and floors of their new apartment still bare, even with basic pieces of furniture like dressers and lamps still to be acquired, the Finks knew that at least one item would occupy pride of place on their walls, if only as a reminder of how far they’d come.

    That was a pen and ink drawing by Joe Forte of an exquisite block of Thompson Street that includes a six-story walk-up nestled within a row of small storefronts. The siblings had been living there on the fifth floor in a 400-square-foot apartment. “Really, just 350 square feet of usable space,” Mr. Fink said.

    Talk about cozy.

    “It was so small,” Ms. Fink said, “that when you got out of the shower, you had to go into another room to dry off because there was no room in the bathroom.”

    Mr. Fink’s bedroom was so minuscule, it could accommodate nothing other than himself and a double bed. The bathroom sink was the size of the sink next to a dentist’s chair. Because there was space for only one visitor at a time, “when we invited people over,” Mr. Fink said, “we had to check to make sure there was no overlapping.” And don’t even ask about the times the parents came to visit.

    “It was like living in a tenement museum,” Mr. Fink said.

    The monthly rent was $2,650, more than the $2,458 the pair are now paying for 800 square feet in Stuyvesant Town, on the second floor of a red-brick building on First Avenue at 16th Street. The rent includes air-conditioning and other utilities, and was sweetened by the inclusion of two months of free rent. The Finks are aware that when their one-year lease expires, they will almost certainly pay more.

    There is officially only one bedroom. But like many of Stuyvesant Town’s newer residents — younger people with modest incomes — they have transformed it into a two-bedroom apartment. The Finks, who arrange programs for teenagers at the Union for Reform Judaism, a nonprofit group with offices near Grand Central Terminal, earn salaries in the low to mid-$30,000s. If they hadn’t been able to share this space, they couldn’t have afforded it.

    Thanks to the miracle of temporary walls, a second bedroom was carved out of the living room, and the new partitions included French doors off the reconfigured hallway. So artfully was the work done that the new walls, which cost them $1,850 to install, look as if they had been in place forever.

    The Finks adored their old neighborhood. But barely 72 hours after moving into Stuyvesant Town, they were burbling about the attractions of their new home. From the kitchen window they can watch the antics of the squirrel that lives in a tree across the way. The top of the Empire State Building is visible through the branches. Their old apartment faced a brick wall, and they never knew what the weather was.

    There’s more. Their old kitchen was nothing more than a stove, a sink and a refrigerator next to a pull-out sofa, which, by the way, couldn’t be pulled out because there was not enough space. In this kitchen, they can actually cook, a nice touch for two self-described foodies.

    Now, when Ms. Fink buys groceries, she doesn’t have to worry about lugging heavy bags up four flights of stairs. And they were dazzled by the presence of a linen closet; they barely knew what to put in it.

    When the Finks, knowing that their lease would expire in July, started apartment hunting earlier this year, they resolved to look at nothing north of 14th Street. This building sits on the cusp of the East Village and just two blocks from the L train, on which they’re only one stop from Williamsburg. It is also a doable walk to places like Marie’s Crisis Cafe, a piano bar on Grove Street in the West Village that Mr. Fink particularly likes.
    In many respects, the arrival of young people like the Finks marks the latest chapter for Stuyvesant Town, which with Peter Cooper Village, its pricier sister, offers 11,200 apartments and for more than 60 years represented one of the city’s most notable concentrations of housing for middle-income families. When Tishman Speyer bought the complex in 2006, rents jumped; the aftershocks are still being played out in court.

    But the Finks are not dwelling on the twists and turns of Stuyvesant Town’s recent history. Rather, they are savoring the same amenities that have long attracted people to this complex, among them Stuyvesant Oval, in the center of the development, where they sit around the fountain, enjoy the free WiFi, buy fresh peaches at the Greenmarket on Sundays, and see people their age sunbathing atop brightly colored towels. The fact that friends of theirs already live in the complex makes it feel even more welcoming.

    When people hear about a brother and sister living under the same roof — Ms. Fink is 25, and her brother is 23 — their first reaction tends to be something like: “Hmm, brother and sister. How does that work exactly?” Some people volunteer that they could never imagine doing such a thing themselves.

    But in the opinion of this particular brother and sister, who have the same coloring but are accessorized differently — he has a small beard and a silver earring; she has dark curly hair and glasses — the benefits outweighed the negatives, and did so even in their old cramped quarters.

    “You don’t have the issues you sometimes have with roommates,” Ms. Fink said, “because everything comes from the same pocket. It’s not like we have to put our names on the eggs.”

    Especially in their new and larger place, they don’t expect the arrangement to put a crimp in their social lives. Mr. Fink mentions another benefit: what parent of a young woman in the big city wouldn’t be happy if a brother were nearby?

    Ms. Fink’s hope is that the arrangement doesn’t prove permanent.
    “I’m not planning to live with him forever,” she said. “But for the time being, it’s lovely.”

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