Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village
Stuyvesant Town as seen from First Avenue, looking uptown (north-northeast) (2006)
Location in New York City
|City||New York City|
|Community District||Manhattan 6|
|• Median income||$99,324 (Peter Cooper Village), $86,345 (Stuyvesant Town)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|Area codes||212, 332, 646, and 917|
Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village is a large, post-World War II private residential development on the east side of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The complex consists of 110 red brick apartment buildings on an 80-acre (32 ha) tract stretching from First Avenue to Avenue C, between 14th and 23rd Streets. Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village is split up into two parts: Stuyvesant Town, south of 20th Street, and Peter Cooper Village, north of 20th Street. Together, the two developments contain 11,250 apartments.
Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village was planned beginning in 1942 and opened its first building in 1947. It replaced the Gas House district of gas storage tanks. The complex has been sold multiple times, most recently in 2015 when it was sold to Ivanhoé Cambridge and Blackstone for $5.45 billion.
Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village is part of Manhattan Community District 6 and its primary ZIP Codes are 10009 and 10010. It is patrolled by the 13th Precinct of the New York City Police Department.
Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village is bounded by First Avenue on the west, 23rd Street on the north, Avenue C on the east, and 14th Street on the south. The complex covers about 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land in total, including parkland. Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village contains 11,250 apartments in 110 buildings.
The buildings south of 20th Street are known as Stuyvesant Town, or "Stuy Town". They were named after Peter Stuyvesant, the last director-general of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, whose farm occupied the site in the 17th century. The buildings north of 20th Street are called Peter Cooper Village, named after the 19th century industrialist, inventor and philanthropist Peter Cooper, who founded Cooper Union.
Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village abuts the Stuyvesant Park and Gramercy Park neighborhoods on the west, the East Village and Alphabet City to the south, and Kips Bay to the north. The surrounding area to the west is notable for a historic two-block park surrounded by the old Stuyvesant High School called Stuyvesant Square, Saint George's Church, and the Beth Israel Medical Center.
In 1842, one gas storage tank at East 23rd Street and the river was erected,(p187–189) quickly followed by the construction of other gas tanks, and by the late 19th century, the site of the complex had become known as the "Gashouse District" because of the many gas storage tanks owned by Consolidated Gas Company that dominated the streetscapes. The tanks, which sometimes leaked, made the area undesirable to live in, as did the Gas House Gang and other predators who operated in the area. The population was predominantly poor, at first largely Irish, but then Germans and Jews as well; later, Slovaks and other Eastern Europeans were the dominant ethnic groups, including a large population of Armenians who lived in the upper Twenties between First and Lexington avenues. Crime in the district was endemic. When Alexander S. Williams was promoted to police captain on May 31, 1872 and assigned to the area, he met the gangs' violence with equal force of his own, putting together a brute squad that beat up gangsters with clubs. He commented: "There is more law at the end of a policeman's nightstick than in a decision of the Supreme Court."
With the construction of the FDR Drive, the area began to improve. By the 1930s, all but four tanks were gone, and, while shabby, the area was no more blighted than many parts of the city after the years of the Great Depression.
Before the construction of Stuyvesant Town, the neighborhood contained 18 city blocks, with public schools, churches, factories, private homes, apartments, small businesses and even relatively new modern-style apartment buildings. In all, 600 buildings, containing 3,100 families, 500 stores and small factories, three churches, three schools, and two theaters, were razed. As would be repeated in later urban renewal projects, some 11,000 persons were forced to move from the neighborhood. In 1945, The New York Times called the move from the site "the greatest and most significant mass movement of families in New York's history." The last residents of the Gas House district, the Delman family, moved out in May 1946, allowing demolition to be completed shortly thereafter.
Due to a New York City housing shortage that had been growing since the Depression, Stuyvesant Town was already being planned as a post-war housing project in 1942–43, some years before the end of World War II. A provision was made that the rental applications of veterans would have selection priority. The complex was developed by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and was based on its earlier development in the Parkchester neighborhood of the Bronx, which was completed in 1942. The same companies and developers also built Riverton, which was completed around the same time.
Metropolitan Life president Frederick H. Ecker said of Stuyvesant Town in its initial offering that it would make it possible for generations of New Yorkers "to live in a park – to live in the country in the heart of New York." On the first day the company received 7,000 applications; it would receive 100,000 applicants by the time of first occupancy. The complex's first tenants, two World War II veterans and their families, moved into the first completed building on August 1, 1947. In 1947, rents ranged from $50 to $91 per month. Current rents range from $3,300 for a one bedroom apartment to $9,000 for a 5 bedroom unit.
Stuyvesant Town was controversial from the beginning. In 1943, the National Association of Housing Officials described the fight as "a battle up to now lacking only in beer bottles and murder." Although nominally a private development, it was championed by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, who has been called the "dominant force in [the] creation" of both Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. At the behest of Mayor LaGuardia, Moses sought "to induce insurance companies and savings banks to enter the field of large-scale slum clearance." It was enabled by various state laws and amendments which permitted private companies to enter what was previously a public field of action.
The new public-private partnership, and the contract entered between the city and the developer, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, were the source of much debate. Among the issues at stake were use of the power of eminent domain for private purposes; the reversion of public streets and land, such as public school property, to private ownership; the 25-year tax exemption granted by the contract; and the lack of any restrictions on the company prohibiting discrimination in selecting tenants.
When the $50 million Stuyvesant Town plan was approved by the City Planning Commission on May 20, 1943 by a five to one vote, discrimination against African-Americans was already a significant topic of debate. Councilmen Stanley M. Isaacs and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. sought to introduce a provision into the contract that would prevent racial or religious discrimination in tenant selection. This provision was not accepted, with those rejecting it, including Robert Moses, arguing that the company's profitability would be harmed and that opponents were "obviously looking for a political issue and not for results in the form of actual slum clearance." In the years after it opened, blacks were barred from living in the complex, with Metropolitan Life's president, Frederick H. Ecker, stating that "negroes and whites do not mix". Lee Lorch, a City College of New York professor, petitioned to allow African Americans into the development and was fired from his teaching position as a result of pressure from Metropolitan Life. Upon accepting a position at Pennsylvania State University, Lorch allowed a black family to occupy his apartment, thus circumventing the no Negroes rule. As a result of pressure from Metropolitan Life, he was dismissed from his new position as well.
Lawsuits were filed on the basis that the project was public or semi-public, and thus violated anti-discrimination laws for New York City public housing. In July 1947, the New York Supreme Court determined that the development was private and that, in the absence of laws to the contrary, the company could discriminate as it saw fit. The court wrote, "It is well settled that the landlord of a private apartment or dwelling house may, without violating any provision of the Federal or State Constitutions, select tenants of its own choice because of race, color, creed or religion... Clearly, housing accommodation is not a recognized civil right." The suit brought by three African American war veterans was thus settled.
By this date, Metropolitan Life was building the Riverton Houses, a separate-but-equal housing project in Harlem with residents who were mainly black. Some years later, the company admitted a few black families to Stuyvesant Town and a few white families to Riverton. Both projects, however, remain largely segregated.
A host of other issues and controversies surrounded Stuyvesant Town's planning and design. From the outset, objections were made to the haste with which the project was approved and lack of public participation in the process; the project's population density; the absence of any public facilities such as schools, community centers, or shops in the development; the gated-community, private property character of the complex and the denial of city residents of the right to walk through a part of the city that was once public; and violations of the city's master plan. Lawsuits were brought by property owners of the land, but in February 1944 the Supreme Court of the United States refused to review the constitutionality of the New York State law that enabled the development, despite the taking of public property for private profit, the granting of tax exemptions, and the public benefits advanced by the developers and their advocates.
The complex contained original plaques honoring Frederick H. Ecker and marking the complexes as housing for moderate-income families, which were dedicated during the complexes' opening day in 1947. In 2002, when the property went luxury market rate, the plaques were removed.
On October 17, 2006, MetLife agreed to sell the complex to Tishman Speyer Properties and the real estate arm of BlackRock for $5.4 billion. The sale was expected to close by November 15, 2006, according to documents which CB Richard Ellis, a commercial real estate broker representing MetLife, sent to bidders. MetLife hired a broker, who started registering bidders, and intended to name a winner by November 2006. The sale had drawn interest from dozens of prospective buyers, including New York's top real estate families, pension funds, international investment banks and investors from Dubai, according to the New York Times, citing real estate executives.
New York City Council member Daniel Garodnick, a lifelong resident of Peter Cooper Village, attempted to organize tenants and investors to place a buyout bid on the complex. Initially, MetLife deemed the tenants group an unqualified bidder, but, after being pressured by elected officials, the company reversed itself, and distributed bid books to the tenant group; bids were to have been submitted by October 5, 2006. Bids included the tenants' $4.6 billion offer, a bid by Vornado Realty Trust, a joint offer between Lehman Brothers and The Related Companies, and one by Apollo Global Management which came within $100 million of Speyer's $5.4 billion. Tishman Speyer paid just $56 million in cash for the property while raising $4 billion in debt from Wachovia and another $500 million from Merrill Lynch & Co..
On January 22, 2007, a class action lawsuit was filed against MetLife, Tishman Speyer Properties, and their associates on behalf of the market rate tenants of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. The suit claimed that MetLife was improperly charging tenants "market rate" rents while at the same time receiving real estate tax benefits from the City of New York under the J-51 program, which requires property owners to maintain apartments as rent stabilized during the period in which they are receiving benefits. The lawsuit asked for a monetary award of between $215 million and $320 million in rent overcharges and damages. Furthermore, it called for the market rate apartments to revert to rent stabilization until the expiration of the J-51 benefit period, sometime after 2017.
In January 2010, Tishman Speyer Properties defaulted on the mortgage, the largest commercial mortgage default in U.S. history. On January 24, 2010, Tishman Speyer Properties gave up control of the properties by handing the complex to creditors, thereby avoiding a bankruptcy of the site. The default was predicted many months in advance; Fitch ratings downgraded the associated CMBS in August 2009. As of January 2010, the complex was estimated to be worth around $1.9 billion or less than 40 percent of the $5.4 billion the property was purchased for in 2006. While the legal battle over rent stabilization played a small role in the demise, it is likely Tishman Speyer would have defaulted even had it won the case. The assumptions underlying the $5.4 billion 2006 valuation were extremely aggressive; the valuation assumed that the income from the properties would triple by 2011. The landmark sale and default are the subject of the 2013 book Other People's Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made by New York Times real estate reporter Charles V. Bagli, who covered Stuyvesant Town for the newspaper.
As of October 2015[update], the property was set to be sold to Blackstone Group LP and Ivanhoé Cambridge, the real-estate arm of pension-fund giant Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec for about $5.3 billion. Blackstone had recently raised a $15.8 billion fund, the largest real-estate fund ever. New York City was expected to contribute $225 million to help preserve a portion of the complex as affordable to low- and middle-income residents. Under a binding agreement with the city, Blackstone agreed to keep roughly 5,000 units below market rents until at least 2035. Most of those units would be aimed at what the developers and the city classify as "middle income" families: two-bedroom apartments, for example, will rent for about $3,200 a month, a rent considered affordable for a family of three making up to $128,000 a year, though the median household income in New York City as of the 2011-2015 American Community Survey was $53,373. About 500 units would be set aside for lower-income families, with two-bedroom units renting for up to $1,500 a month. The Federal National Mortgage Association would be providing Blackstone with a $2.7 billion loan through Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital, and the debt would have a term of 10 years.
Growing rents and a gradual conversion of more rent-regulated units to market rates has brought the net operating income of the property up each year since 2006. With about 45% of the complex’s residents still paying the regulated rents – down from 71% in 2006 – income is above $200 million a year.
The complex is designed as two large "superblocks", independent of the grid system that characterizes the majority of Manhattan below 155th Street. It consists of two large parks, one for each part of the complex, juxtaposed with modern red brick apartment towers. Its design was heavily influenced by the modernist "Towers in the park" theory advocated by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier in which residences consist of tall apartment buildings situated within a park-like environment.
Solar panels were installed atop Stuyvesant Town's towers in a project completed in 2019. They comprise the largest array of solar panels on an apartment complex in the United States.
Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village was 21,049, a change of 1,948 (9.3%) from the 19,101 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 132.9 acres (53.8 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 158.4 inhabitants per acre (101,400/sq mi; 39,100/km2). The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 74.1% (15,600) White, 3.6% (751) African American, 0.1% (23) Native American, 12.6% (2,662) Asian, 0% (6) Pacific Islander, 0.1% (23) from other races, and 2.6% (539) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.7% (1,405) of the population.
The entirety of Community District 6, which comprises Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown, had 53,120 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 84.8 years.:2, 20 This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods.:53 (PDF p. 84) Most inhabitants are adults: a plurality (45%) are between the ages of 25–44, while 22% are between 45–64, and 13% are 65 or older. The ratio of youth and college-aged residents was lower, at 7% and 12% respectively.:2
As of 2017, the median household income in Community District 6 was $112,383. The median income in Peter Cooper Village individually was $99,324, and the median income in Stuyvesant Town was $86,345. In 2018, an estimated 10% of Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown residents lived in poverty, compared to 14% in all of Manhattan and 20% in all of New York City. One in twenty-five residents (4%) were unemployed, compared to 7% in Manhattan and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 42% in Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 45% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018[update], Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown are considered to be high-income relative to the rest of the city and not gentrifying.:7
Stuyvesant Town, along with Gramercy and Madison Square, is patrolled by the 13th Precinct of the NYPD, located at 230 East 21st Street. The 13th Precinct and neighboring 17th Precinct ranked 57th safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. The high per-capita crime rate is attributed to the precincts' high number of property crimes. With a non-fatal assault rate of 35 per 100,000 people, Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown's rate of violent crimes per capita is less than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 180 per 100,000 people is lower than that of the city as a whole.:8
The 13th Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 80.7% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct saw 2 murders, 18 rapes, 152 robberies, 174 felony assaults, 195 burglaries, 1,376 grand larcenies, and 37 grand larcenies auto in 2018.
The complex has its own public safety force of 40 officers. They are not permitted to carry firearms as per New York State Law but do carry batons, pepper spray, and handcuffs. As public safety officers they have limited enforcement powers on Cooper Village. They patrol the property in specialized vehicles.
As of late March 2009, security cameras were installed and activated in all Stuyvesant Town buildings. In addition, sensors were installed on the roof doors to prevent unauthorized access. There are over 1,200 surveillance cameras located throughout the complex, which are all connected to the Stuy Town security HQ in the Oval.
The requirement of photo ID card-keys was introduced in mid-October 2008 in Stuyvesant Town, and replaced door keys to each building's lobby. The parking garages along Avenue C, 20th Street, and 14th Street also implemented a key-card access system and installed security cameras.
Preterm and teenage births in Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown are lower than the city average. In Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown, there were 78 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 1.5 teenage births per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide), though the teenage birth rate was based on a small sample size.:11 Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown have a low population of residents who are uninsured. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 3%, less than the citywide rate of 12%, though this was based on a small sample size.:14
The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown is 0.0102 milligrams per cubic metre (1.02×10−8 oz/cu ft), more than the city average.:9 Twelve percent of Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown residents are smokers, which is less than the city average of 14% of residents being smokers.:13 In Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown, 10% of residents are obese, 5% are diabetic, and 18% have high blood pressure—compared to the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively.:16 In addition, 7% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%.:12
Ninety-one percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is higher than the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 90% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," more than the city's average of 78%.:13 For every supermarket in Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown, there are 7 bodegas.:10
Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are located in three ZIP Codes. The area south of 20th Street and in Stuyvesant Town is located in 10009, while the area north of 20th Street and in Peter Cooper Village is located in 10010. Several buildings on First Avenue are located in 10003, the ZIP Code for the East Village. The United States Postal Service operates the Peter Stuyvesant Station post office at 335 East 14th Street.
Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown generally have a higher rate of college-educated residents than the rest of the city. A majority of residents age 25 and older (82%) have a college education or higher, while 3% have less than a high school education and 15% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 64% of Manhattan residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher.:6 The percentage of Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown students excelling in math rose from 61% in 2000 to 80% in 2011, and reading achievement increased from 66% to 68% during the same time period.
Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is lower than the rest of New York City. In Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown, 8% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, less than the citywide average of 20%.:24 (PDF p. 55):6 Additionally, 91% of high school students in Stuyvesant Town and East Midtown graduate on time, more than the citywide average of 75%.:6
The following public middle and high schools are located near Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village:
The community has its own newspaper, Town & Village, also known as "the T&V". It was first published in 1947 and has been published every week since, covering news in Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, Waterside Plaza, and Gramercy Park. The paper was founded by Charles G. Hagedorn and as of the late 2000s (decade) is published by Hagedorn Communications. Town & Village is independent and not affiliated with the ownership of the complex.
The company barred blacks from living in Stuyvesant Town for many years, and its president at the time, Frederick H. Ecker, once said, “Negroes and whites do not mix.
“Perched atop a mailbox near his family's apartment in Stuyvesant Town, 5-year-old David Axelrod watched intently as a charismatic John F. Kennedy rallied New Yorkers for his presidential campaign in the fall of 1960.
“When Chris was born, there was absolutely nothing out there,” said Mrs. Burke, who raised her family in Stuyvesant Town.
The Clarks, married in 1950, spent the first few years in Stuyvesant Town, a middle-income project in Manhattan.
Glick does have game. She was named to New York’s All-City basketball team while attending high school at Dalton. In those days, she commuted back and forth from Stuyvesant Town, where she grew up.
Because Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village are run by a giant insurance company, the bureaucracy is rather Kremlin-like. As a supplicant, you assume that it will be greatly to your advantage to know somebody. Being a cop, or dating one, is said to help. When Lee Brown arrived in town to become David Dinkins' Police Commissioner, his name magically went to the top of the list at Peter Cooper Village. There are tales of an Irish Mafia that somehow has infiltrated the selection process. Frank McCourt once assured me that his last name was the secret to gaining a space years ago, long before Angela's Ashes.
Born at Mount Sinai Hospital, Mr. Nieporent grew up in Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan, the younger of two sons, and graduated from Stuyvesant High School.
Paul Reiser, the former stand-up comic who became a movie actor, scriptwriter, television star and best-selling author, grew up in this inward-looking urban cloister of red brick apartment houses between 14th and 20th Streets, from First Avenue to FDR Drive in Manhattan.
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