Landlord Tishman Speyer plans this weekend to officially open its four new residential amenities at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, including a private movie theater and a library.
Collectively billed as the Oval Amenities, these four services—aside from the theater and the study and library, there’s a kids activity center and a pool table-equipped lounge—will join concierge services and a fitness center for the tenants at the 11,000-unit apartment complexes.
Tenants can opt into the four new services for $20 monthly, plus a one-time $250 fee per household, as long as they make a three-month commitment. Guest passes for non-residents or resident nonmembers will be $20 each. Existing gym and concierge members will enjoy a substantial discount.
The new facilities were designed by firm Cetra/Ruddy, and will be operated by American Leisure, a company that manages gyms, lifestyle centers and spas. Housed in a quartet of “crystalline glass enclosures” that blend modern aesthetics with the red-brick housing-project-style architecture of the apartment buildings, the facilities were attached to the sides of four existing buildings that ring the central oval at the heart of the complex.
These square annexes introduce a little angularity to a hub that is decidedly curvy. Each one is surrounded by hedges and a bluestone terrace with seating, and according to Cetra/Ruddy founding principal Nancy Ruddy, the “mullion-free glass” floor-to-ceiling windows create “an indoor/outdoor experience for residents using the space.” The same firm redesigned the leasing office on First Avenue, the concierge and the gym. Tishman Speyer would not disclose how much the new facilities cost.
On Monday, Stuyvesant Town tenants were treated to an open house of the new spaces. Dozens toured and asked questions of the handful of American Leisure employees on hand serving sandwich wraps, popcorn, wine and cheese.
Prices weren’t listed in the glossy pamphlet being passed out, and when one curious middle-aged resident asked a smartly dressed membership coordinator about the costs, she spent two minutes rattling off the list of benefits, before being cut off and asked again—”how much?”
Sign-ups are just beginning, and although there’s already a waiting list to rent out the spaces for private events (price to be determined), it’s unclear how many of Stuyvesant Town’s 25,000 tenants will bite. The new amenities seem aimed at market-rate tenants, still the minority, many of whom are young professionals with kids. (Full disclosure: This reporter is a market-rate Stuy Town tenant.)
The market-rate residents are the ones most squeezed by recent rent hikes, says Susan Steinberg, vice president of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, as Tishman Speyer seeks to close the gap between its revenue and the payments it makes on the $3 billion mortgage it took out to buy the properties for $5.4 billion in 2006.
“They’re being issued outrageous increases of 25 percent and higher,” Ms. Steinberg said of market-rate tenants. “Some of them are saying, ‘I’d much rather buy a house in New Jersey.'”
The tenants association says it welcomes the new amenities, even though it wasn’t consulted about putting them in. Still, it has some reservations. “The term ‘amenities’ for us means something that comes with the complex—washing machines, playgrounds and things of that nature,” Ms. Steinberg said. “We hope the tenants enjoy it, but they sure would enjoy it more if it were not going to cost them.”
A Tishman Speyer representative said the landlord is preparing a statement on the amenities.