Economics & Finance Photo: The Guardian

Understanding Stuyvesant Town



After Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village were purchased, a group of tenants brought legal action to challenge the new owners’ ability to take apartments out of rent stabilization through the “luxury decontrol” rules which came into effect in 1993. Under that provision of the law, when rents exceed $2,000 on vacancy or when an existing tenant’s income exceeds $175,000 and the rent for their apartment exceeds $2,000, the owner can apply to DHCR to remove that apartment from rent stabilization.

CHPC has followed the case since 2007 when Judge Richard B. Lowe of the New York State Supreme Court indicated that accepting J-51 tax benefits from New York City did not prevent a building owner from utilizing the high rent and luxury decontrol provisions of the rent stabilization law.

Our aim through the process has been to write clear, straightforward briefings on the latest news coming out of the case to make sure that people are correctly informed about this complicated and controversial issue.

Related analysis

The Stuyvesant Town: This Is Your Home

On December 10, 2012, CHPCs original production The Stuyvesant Town: This Is Your Home premiered at the Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Theatre on West 42nd Street. It was a smashing success!

The night began with a wine and cheese reception in the second-floor lobby of the spectacular Signature Theatre. More than 250 prominent guests attended the event.

Based on the primary source documents in CHPCs Ruth Dickler – Marian Sameth Archival Library, the play brought the audience back to the 1940s and 1950s and revisited the struggle to integrate Stuyvesant Town. Through stage reading of original news articles, letters, and transcripts of meetings, the play vividly reproduced many of the definitive moments of the controversy. For example, the debate and passing of the 1943 Stuyvesant Town plan, the 1947 New York Supreme Courts quashing of three African American war veterans lawsuits against Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and the 1950 eventual admission of African American tenants into Stuyvesant Town. The play also left the audience with a deep impression of lively images of key players in the center of the controversy, to name but a few, Assembly member William T. Andrews, Commissioner Robert Moses, and one of the audiences favorites, George Mitchell, a young man that represented no particular organization but presented signatures of a majority of the actors in all the major attractions on Broadway for a petition against the Stuyvesant Town plan on the council meeting to vote for the very plan.

After the play, a panel of experts discussed the controversy of Stuyvesant Town further and answered questions from the audience. The panel discussion was hosted by Jerilyn Perine, Executive Director of CHPC, featuring Seema Agnani, founder and executive director of Chhaya CDC; Charles Bagli, NYT reporter whose book about Stuyvesant Town comes out this spring; and Gwendolyn Wright, professor of architecture at Columbia University and co-host of PBS’s History Detectives. Inspired by the play, the audience raised many interesting questions covering a wide range of topics, like the difference and relationship between Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, and the role of public opinion in city planning. The evening concluded with the warm scene of the play writer Adam Thorburn shyly accepted flowers from his parents and receiving a round of applause from the audience.

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The script

More gems from our Archives

Our Archives include an extraordinary collection of documents that set out the history of the development of Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan.

CHPC was a powerful voice against the early discriminatory practices at Stuyvesant Town, as evidenced by the hundreds of CHPC archival documents that shed light on the origins of this controversial housing complex. These documents are digitized under the link below.