So, down in New York City, Met Life is about to sell off its Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village portfolio of buildings, causing a lot of stress for a lot of people.
Stuyvesant Town is a sprawling collection of red brick apartment buildings with typical housing project-style architecture stretching from First Avenue to Avenue C, between 14th and 20th Streets. Stuyvesant Town has 8,757 apartments and with its sister development Peter Cooper Village they have a combined 110 buildings, 11,250 apartments, and over 25,000 residents.
According to The New York Times:
Metropolitan Life, the largest life insurer in North America, built the complexes for returning veterans in 1947 and announced earlier this year that it would auction them off. The announcement upset many of the 25,000 residents. Nearly three quarters of the apartments still have regulated rents at roughly half the market rate. Tenants fear the changes that will come with a new owner seeking more higher-paying tenants.
The sale is expected to be in the $4.3 – $5.0 billion range.
Not surprisingly, a lot of people have a problem with this. Of course, the only ones who will be directly affected are lower-income residents.
However, a lot of middle-income, and upper-income people live there, as well.
They’re not too happy, because, well, they have been paying 25% of what their rents would be elsewhere, and fear the gravy train is gonna stop.
So, what do these people do?
They get out there, complaining about how the city is abandoning its responsibilities.
For example, here’s City Councilman Daniel L. Garodnick, who lives in Peter Cooper Village and has been promoting a tenant bid.
“It’s a question of whether we will take a stand in defense of housing for the middle class,” Mr. Garodnick said. “It’s very important for the city’s economy that we do so. That’s why it’s generated so much interest, not just locally, but nationally. We expect to make a competitive bid here, one that will allow MetLife to make a profit and also honor the tradition of affordability in that community.”
Um, yeah, I don’t doubt his sincerity, it’s just that, this guy’s not middle class.
A New York city councilor’s current salary is $90,000 (plus bonuses that range from an additional $4,000 to an additional $28,500 a year.) Plus, the city council has just proposed a 25%, $22,500 payraise for themselves.
That’s a lot of money. Perhaps Mr. Garodnick could rent somewhere else, and leave the low-priced apartments for people who actually need them?
In fact, many of the people who live there, are not middle class.
They are simply people who were offered a good deal, and took it. Nothing illegal about it, and maybe nothing immoral, either. However, there is something wrong with a program that intended to help the poor, and ended up helping the well-off, instead.
To portray this as a fight between the “haves” and “don’t haves” is innacurate. The property is owned by a private company, and what they choose to do with it, is their own business.
Rent control / rent stabilization is a screwed up system, and it simply can’t work.
More Than 12 Expected to Bid for Complexes – By Charles V Bagli, The New York Times
*** UPDATE: Great. As I predicted, just hours ago, the city has gotten involved, and with plans that will cause the whole deal to unravel.
In a bid to slow down the sale of the property and give a boost to the tenant bid, City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez said she plans to submit legislation next week that would slow down MetLife’s plan to sell the property and boost the tenant bid. The legislation would require the owners of large residential properties, where more than half the apartments are rent-regulated, to notify the city’s housing department 120 days prior to a sale.
Tenants’ Bid Among a Dozen for Complexes – By Charles V Bagli, The New York Times