The Daily Dirt: Stuy Town tenants are suing Blackstone to stop summer rent hikes

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

TRD New York /
Mar.March 06, 2020 09:00 AM
Blackstone’s Jonathan Gray and an aerial image of Stuyvesant Town (Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images; iStock)

Blackstone’s Jonathan Gray and an aerial image of Stuyvesant Town (Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images; iStock)

Blackstone is facing a lawsuit from its Stuy Town tenants to stop rent hikes that were due to start in July. 

There’s nothing quite like summer in New York City: the stench of garbage and sweaty subway commuters, and the rent increases that make it more expensive for you to have the privilege of enjoying said stenches.

Tenants in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are trying to disrupt at least one of these traditions, suing Blackstone to prevent the landlord from deregulating and raising the rents at thousands of apartments when its regulatory agreement expires this year. The apartments would be subject to rent increases starting in July under the agreement Blackstone made with the city in 2015, but the lawsuit says that conflicts with the rent law the state passed last year.

Blackstone responded Thursday to the suit, saying that a 2012 settlement allows it to deregulate the units receiving J-51 tax benefits and that the company already “voluntarily restricted 5,000 Stuy Town apartments as affordable.”

Albany’s massive changes to New York’s rent regulations last year did not alter the language of the J-51 program, and several attorneys told The Real Deal‘s Georgia Kromrei that apartments in that program are now essentially in a legal grey area.

Legal grey areas generally do not lead to quick resolutions, so it seems likely that the Stuy Town lawsuit could go on for some time. But readers should at least rest assured that, no matter what, New York will still probably not smell very good this summer.

Coronavirus concerns mean constant cleaning for commercial landlords.

The number of coronavirus cases in New York is continuing to rise, which means one thing for the city’s commercial landlords: clean, clean again, and then clean some more.

Companies ranging from the Durst Organization to WeWork are stepping up cleanup efforts at their properties as concerns mount about the virus. They are adding hand-sanitizer stations throughout their buildings, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and doing their best to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.

“We’ve stockpiled antibacterial soap and cleaning solution,” the Durst Organization’s Jordan Barowitz told TRD, “and we distributed the CDC guidelines for businesses and employers to our tenants.”

The outbreak has also led to at least some commercial real estate events getting postponed, including multiple conferences that Newmark Knight Frank had been planning. But one of the industry’s major gatherings is still on for now, as ICSC has said it has no plans to cancel any of its upcoming events, including RECon in May. It just might need to bring on Clorox and Purell as sponsors.

What we’re thinking about: Will Robert Durst be found guilty in his long-awaited trial — which began Wednesday — for the murder of Susan Berman? What information will come out during the proceedings? And will the “true crime” craze that “The Jinx” helped spark in 2015 ever end? Send thoughts and ideas for true crime series to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Thursday was for a condo unit at 2376 Broadway, at about $7.2 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for a three-family building at 32-26 42nd Street in Queens, at $2.15 million.

 

BREAKING GROUND

The largest new building filing of the day was for a roughly 361,000-square-foot mixed-use building at 1607 Surf Avenue in Brooklyn. Joseph Ferrara filed the permit application.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo unit at 520 Park Avenue in Lenox Hill, at $19.5 million. Compass’ Brian Lewis has the listing. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

Apparently, the year is actually divided up into five seasons, not four: spring, summer, fall, winter and … soup season. TRD‘s Kevin Sun discovered this fifth season on a Campbell Soup Company earnings call, where a Barclays Capital analyst asked what the firm would do now that “most of the soup season” is over. We here at TRD hope you have had a happy and healthy soup season and are already looking forward to the next one.

Elsewhere in New York

— The many indignities one suffers when going to LaGuardia Airport were recently the subject of a very solid “SNL” sketch, but the airport should get at least marginally less depressing in the coming months. The internationally renowned artists Jeppe Hein, Sabine Hornig, Laura Owens and Sarah Sze have all been tapped to put up large projects at the new Terminal B as part of the $8 billion renovation of the airport, the New York Times reports. Unfortunately, there is still no word on whether these will ultimately lead to more leg room in planes.

— New Jersey has joined the coronavirus club. The state confirmed its first case of the disease Wednesday, the New York Post reports. The patient is a man in his 30s who has been hospitalized in Bergen County since Tuesday.

— A rare set of blueprints for the World Trade Center could be yours if you have six figures to spare. The blueprints, from architect Joseph Solomon, have made their way back to New York after almost 50 years, and James Cummins Bookseller will sell them at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, which runs from Thursday through Sunday at the Park Avenue Armory, the Wall Street Journal reports. The set includes more than 500 plans from the late 1960s into the early 1970s.


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