By Sabina Mollot
Developer Gerald Guterman, of Guterman Westwood Partners, has launched a website aimed at explaining his plan to convert Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village into co-ops.
The interactive website (www.stpcvfacts.org) encourages residents of the massive East Side complex to send in questions about the plan and offers “straightforward answers to the tough questions that community residents have been raising and talking about for years,” said the developer in a statement.
“It provides background information on Guterman Westwood Partners and provides a forum for resident and public inquiry regarding the conversion process, and the firm’s intended participation therein.
“Guterman Westwood Partners believes that no conversion of the community can or should occur without the support of the vast majority of its current residents.”
Guterman, who was one of over 50 parties that had approached the ST-PCV Tenants Association to propose some sort of tenant-led conversion plan after Tishman Speyer handed the property back to lenders, was eventually passed over by the TA in favor of a partnership with Brookfield Asset Management.
Brookfield, a national property developer, along with the TA, has proposed a plan to convert the complex into condos while also giving residents the option to continue to rent.
Under his plan, Guterman has said tenants would also be allowed to continue to rent. However, he believes a co-op conversion would be cheaper and take less time to accomplish.
The TA has explained its decision to go with Brookfield by noting its experience in complicated deals as well as the fact that the firm wants to remain on as owner of the unsold units for the long term.
However, Guterman has said he believes his firm is the best for the job considering his experience in conversions of rent-controlled and rent-stabilized buildings (around 11,000 units).
The company also explained, on the new website, why it wouldn’t want to remain on as a longterm landlord.
“Guterman Westwood has seen firsthand over the years that when residents become purchasers and owners of any community, they seldom want a longterm ‘corporate partner’ or sponsor to retain an interest in the community for longer than is absolutely necessary,” it said in a Q&A section.
In the statement released on Thursday, Gutterman said, “When the details of our plan are objectively compared with plans suggested by others, residents will recognize that our firm aims to produce the best value possible for the community in an orderly and efficient conversion process.
“Of course, no one other than the mortgagees control the property at this stage. But when the mortgagees’ disposition process proceeds later this year, we will be deeply involved as a strong voice for the residents of the Stuyvesant Town & Peter Cooper Village community, with the backing and commitment to see an acquisition and conversion through for the mutual benefit of our firm and the residents.”