NYC’s Stuyvesant Town for sale

Marketplace Staff Aug 30, 2006

SCOTT JAGOW: In New York’s East Village, right over by the East River, there are two huge apartment complexes. One’s called Stuyvesant Town. The other… Peter Cooper Village. They were built in the late 40’s by the insurance company MetLife to give war veterans a place to live. Ever since, those apartments have been pretty affordable housing for middle-income folks. But Metlife just announced it’s selling the two complexes for 5 billion dollars. That would be the biggest deal for a U.S. property in decades. And a big deal for the people who live there. Ashley Milne-TYTE reports.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Think about it: 11,000 apartments on 80 acres of prime Manhattan real estate. It has gardens and playgrounds and is a stone’s throw from the waterfront. Investment firms and real estate developers are salivating. But Ken Patton of New York University’s real estate school says there’s a lot involved in buying such a vast property.

KEN PATTON:“The idea that there’ll be exuberant bidding and people in a feeding frenzy to buy this I think is tempered by the fact that while you may realize some short-term gain through sales, there’s gonna be a long-term management and conversion process that will take years and years.”

He says the current 25,000 tenants are protected from eviction or sky-high rent increases. Still, Nick Retsinas of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies says any buyer will want to maximize their return on investment. And that could affect future tenants.

NICK RETSINAS: Maximize the return would be looking at the current rent structure and see if there was a way to increase that, and also to explore options such as converting into condominiums or other kinds of tenure types.”

That’s just what life-long resident Al Doyle is worried about.

AL DOYLE:“It’s a real shame because, you know, Stuyvesant Town was a place where many people started families and started their lives.”

Doyle’s parents were original tenants of Stuyvesant Town in the ’40s. He and his wife have been renting their rent-stabilized two-bedroom apartment since 1979. They pay a couple of thousand bucks less per month than they would for another two-bedroom in the same area.

In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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