Stuyvesant Town: An Oasis Near the East River


The first tenants of Stuy Town, as it is often called, arrived in 1947, so next year marks its 70th anniversary. The complex of 56 12- and 13-story red brick structures houses around 27,500 people in around 11,000 units. A third are in Peter Cooper Village, where the apartments are larger and more expensive than at Stuyvesant Town, which runs from East 14th to 20th Streets.

Initially, preference was given to returning World War II veterans. The joke among some old-timers, according to Rick Hayduk, 52, the property’s general manager, is that “Peter Cooper was for the officers and Stuyvesant for the enlisted men.”

For decades it was a middle-class bastion, owned by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company until 2006. Then Tishman Speyer Properties and its partner BlackRock Realty bought it for $5.4 billion, the biggest real estate deal in American history at the time. The companies defaulted on their mortgage in 2010, and CW Capital managed the property for five years. The Blackstone Group, partnering with Ivanhoé Cambridge and paying more than $5 billion, officially took over the complex on Jan. 1.

“We’re going to own this property for a very long time,” said Nadeem Meghji, 35, a co-head of Blackstone’s United States acquisitions and the lead partner on the deal.

Ms. Steinberg applauded the current landlord. She said the property “had not been maintained properly, and they’ve done a great job of catching up.”

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442 EAST 20TH STREET, #6A A two-bedroom one-bath in Stuyvesant Town, rented at $4,475.

Credit
Jonah Markowitz for The New York Times

What You’ll Find

The landscaped turf of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village is bounded by First Avenue, Avenue C, East 14th Street and East 23rd Street. A gushing fountain is at its heart and commerce is on the perimeter, a sequence of grocers, a hardware store, a dry cleaner, a wine shop and informal restaurants like Vamos! for tacos and tequila and Petite Abeille for Belgian-style mussels and beef stew. The complex has its own public safety force, sanitation and snow removal. Dogs are generally allowed but must be registered and wear a visible tag when outside.

Looping, interior roads and winding pathways weave around playgrounds, basketball courts and look-alike buildings fringed by lawns, London plane trees, dogwoods, magnolias, boxwoods and hydrangeas. Those without an innate sense of direction or a GPS can become disoriented.

What You’ll Pay

On Aug. 3, a search on StreetEasy.com found 29 rental units available, ranging from $3,381 a month for a 745-square-foot one-bedroom at 626 East 20th Street to $7,200 for a four-bedroom two-bathroom at 540 East 20th Street.

Most apartments are rented through the management leasing office without fees other than an application fee of $100 per person on the lease. “Demand is high in preparation for the fall when the city turns over,” Mr. Hayduk said, citing students and families with children arriving for school.

What to Do

Stuy Town is convenient to East Village restaurants, bars, movie theaters and music spots. Within the complex is the newly renovated Five Stuy Cafe.

A Greenmarket sets up Sundays from mid-May to late November at the south end of the grassy Oval. In summer, the Oval hosts outdoor movie nights and musical performances. In late fall and winter, Playground 10 (of 15 recreational spaces) becomes an ice rink.

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9 STUYVESANT OVAL, #11D A one-bedroom one-bath in Stuyvesant Town, rented at $3,350.

Credit
Jonah Markowitz for The New York Times

An on-site gym, Oval Fitness, offers various membership options. Across Avenue C, Stuyvesant Cove Park is a breezy trail popular with runners and bordered by untamed horticulture. Parallel to it is the East River Bikeway.

The Schools

Most of Stuyvesant Town is in District 1, but at the northern end, part of it is assigned to District 2. Peter Cooper Village is entirely in District 2.

There are no zoned elementary schools in District 1, so parents must apply and rank schools in order of preference. Public School 364 Earth School at 600 East Sixth Street serves about 321 students from prekindergarten through Grade 5. According to the city’s School Quality Snapshot, 58 percent of students met state standards in English in 2014-2015, versus 30 percent citywide; 53 percent did so in math, versus 39 percent. In District 2, Public School 40 Augustus Saint-Gaudens at 320 East 20th Street serves about 630 students from prekindergarten through Grade 5, with 73 percent meeting state standards in English and 81 percent in math.

For Grades 6 through 12 in District 1, the East Side Community High School at 420 East 12th Street is a college preparatory academy serving about 700 students. Average SAT scores for the class of 2015 were 428 in critical reading, 454 in math and 445 in writing; citywide averages were 444, 466 and 439. In District 2, Middle School 104 Simon Baruch at 330 East 21st Street serves about 1,164 students in Grades 6 through 8. There, 53 percent met standards in English and 61 percent in math.

Priority is given to District 2 for Baruch College Campus High School at 55 East 25th Street, with about 450 students. Average SAT scores for the class of 2015 were 526 in critical reading, 592 in math and 531 in writing.

The Commute

The L train at First Avenue and 14th Street connects to several lines in Brooklyn and Manhattan; the trip takes about 20 minutes to Midtown East. In January 2019, the L will shut down its Manhattan stops and the tunnel to Brooklyn for 18 months of repairs, making commuters more reliant on buses. Among those serving the neighborhood are the M9, M14A, M14D, M15 and M23.

The History

In 1943, opponents of the proposed Stuyvesant Town housing plan objected to its whites-only policy. Frederick H. Ecker, the chairman of the board of the property’s developer, Metropolitan Life Insurance, did not deny his discriminatory stance at a contentious hearing covered by The New York Times. “Does New York City want Stuyvesant Town at such a price?” asked Henry Epstein, a politician and later a state supreme court justice, who railed against its being “created for the socially select.” The ban on black tenants was legally upheld until 1950; a campaign by residents to welcome them ultimately helped lead to the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

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