“We are, today, a wounded and perplexed community,” novelist Gina Nahai wrote in a column for The Jewish Journal. “For us, the question is no longer what a Jew will and will not do; it’s what we, as a community, will and won’t tolerate. It’s whether our increasingly Orthodox rabbis will take a public stand against larceny in our own midst, or choose to look away.”
Park Fifth Project – Robert Rechnitz, Africa Israel, Ezri Numvar – Abraham Assil – Stones or Diamonds…
We write this article to the victims of Ezri Namvar, most notably Abraham Assil. As you do, we believe that there is money belonging to Namco investors hiding in different countries. It is our position that hiding money in the form of stone, whether the Jerusalem stone that acts as the building blocks of Israeli real estate, or precious rocks, like Leviev’s diamonds, would have been easy for Namvar. Just peruse the company he kept.
We thank the readers of this blog, and others like Tikun Olam, for shedding light on the secrets a community keeps. We are paying attention.
While researching our previous article, the Rialto and the relationship between Robert Rechnitz and Africa Israel we found a listing on the Africa-Israel (AFIGROUP) website that caught our attention. The listing was for a California property referred to as Park Fifth (Residential, Commerical) [land intended for development of residential buildings]. What raised our tail-feathers was the broken link to the Park Fifth website from the Africa Israel website.
Park Fifth, according to a number of articles is a residential/commercial property in downtown LA. It had been purchased by Africa-Israel and was the source of losses in 2007/2008. In 2010 Africa-Israel attempted to sell the property to an Oil Baron Gabriel Hertzberg of the Triangle International Oil Company, something we found interesting only insofar as mining, though in the form of diamonds, has been the source of many an article on this site:
The Downtown News reports there is now a new potential investor in the mix for Park + Fifth:
The potential partner, Gabriel Hertzberg of the Triangle International Oil Company, said that he plans to take over for Park Fifth’s financially troubled former capital partners, Africa-Israel Investments and the Brentwood-based investment company Namco Capital Group. Hertzberg also said that he would purchase the site and provide a construction loan for the project. This would mark Hertzbergs’s first real estate development. He refused to disclose the loan amount, but said that it would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.
In 2014 news articles reported that the property had been sold to the MacFarlane’s Group. If it was sold why would it still be boasted as a project of Africa-Israel?
Real Estate Weekly reported on the sale:
Africa-Israel USA (AFI-USA) has closed on the sale of the 2.27-acre Downtown Los Angeles development site on the corner of Fifth and Olive, also known as Park Fifth.
MacFarlane Partners, a San Francisco-based real estate investment company, purchased the site and plans to transform it into a mid- and high-rise residential and “retail destination.ˮ
“With patience and determination, we closed on the Park Fifth site at a price nearly 50% higher than it was estimated at just two years ago,” said Chagit Sofiev-Leviev, CEO of AFI-USA. “MacFarlane Partners is a visionary real estate investor and developer that will no doubt add value to the Downtown Los Angeles community with this project.”
A Newmark Grubb Knight Frank team of Jimmy Kuhn in New York and Chris Cooney, Josh Levy and Matt Dobson in Los Angeles brokered the sale.
Damien Stein, chief operating officer of AFI-USA, also worked on the transaction.
● Capital Square Realty advisors
Capital cares about medical facilities
Several other sites reported on the sale:
MACFARLANE PARTNERS BUYS PARK FIFTH DEVELOPMENT SITE IN DOWNTOWN LA
LOS ANGELES — MacFarlane Partners has acquired Park Fifth, a 2.2-acre development site in Downtown Los Angeles, for nearly $40 million. The site is located on the corner of Fifth and Olive streets. MacFarlane plans to develop mid- and high-rise residential properties on the site, in addition to retail.
The Fifth and Olive intersection has been a popular one with developers as of late. Aside from Park Fifth, new developments at this juncture include Metropolis, G12 and the Rosslyn Hotel.
The seller of Park Fifth was Africa-Israel USA (AFI-USA). The sale was executed by Jimmy Kuhn, Chris Cooney, Josh Levy and Matt Dobso of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.
On July 17, 2016, Richard Silverstein published an article in his Tikun Olam entitled:
“Netanyahu Corruption Scandal Envelops Wealthy U.S. Haredi Family”
In that article Silverstein wrote as follows:
“Rechnitz comes from a wealthy, extended ultra-Orthodox family based in California. The scion of the family and Shlomo’s uncle, is Robert Rechnitz, a real estate investor who founded the Bomel Companies and an Israeli subsidiary, Bomel Israel. He has been vice chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition and founded a Congressional lobbying group on behalf of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system (or should I say, “racket system?) the Iron Dome Tribute. He even developed a branding slogan: “the Humane Defensive Weapon.” I always thought the words “humane” and “weapon” were oxymorons. But not in the topsy-turvy world that is pro-Israel advocacy.”
On Tikun Olam there was a comment:
“Guys Robert rechnitz hides ezri nambars funds…. For example, the project he’s handling in Jerusalem”
We do not know the Jerusalem reference there, but it got us looking.
Ezri Namvar is well known as the Madoff of the West Coast. Unlike Madoff, his schemes were not of the Ponzi variety. He did, however, lose the savings of four hundred people, most of whom were Jewish from the Parsi community. His victims were people with whom he went to shul, broke bread, socialized. They trusted him with their friendship and their money. Very little of their funds have been returned, and it is not anticipated that there is more to come.
Ezri Namvar’s company was known as the Namco Capital Group which was located in the Wilshire Bundy building in California, occupying the 14th floor.Namco was known for providing loans to investors, charging higher than normal interest rates but offering greater returns on investments to those underwriting the loans. Namvar invested in real estate, initially wisely but ultimately at a furious pace, until the bubble in 2007/2008 when real estate prices plummeted.
In 2008, Namco and Namvar were forced into an involuntary bankruptcy when it was discovered by one of his investors, Abraham Assil, that he was collateralizing loans with assets that were already being used as collateral for other loans.
Assil is still convinced that “cash was carried to Israel in suitcases.” We fully agree, but we do not think that it was carried in cash, rather in diamonds.
While we leave it to Tikun Olam to publish the Israel part of this story, which we hope will be inspired by this piece, Namco and Africa Israel were partners in the Park Fifth building, information that only became immediately relevant by the commenter to the Silverstein piece.
We have highlighted the relevant points in red below. The third partner we have not begun researching but will do so. We believe, as do many of Namvar’s creditors that there is money. We believe it is in the form of diamonds. Articles about diamonds being held by Namvar’s wife lend credence to our suspicions. While the commenter to Tikun Olam believes that Robert Rechnitz is holding Namvar’s cash in Jerusalem real estate, which we would not doubt, we are firmly ensconced in the view that Namvar’s money can be found in diamonds.
Perhaps there is a trust similar to the Leviev/Gaydamak 2001 agreement. Time will tell.
Park Fifth Architectural Landmark Elevates ”Infinity Living” in Downtown L.A.
Opulent, $1 Billion High-Rise Condominiums to Soar as Tallest Residential Edifice in the West
May 15, 2007
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Los Angeles will be looking up in wonder as the spectacular Park Fifth, the tallest residential building west of Chicago, rises in Downtown Los Angeles. Capital partners Africa Israel and Namco Capital Group along with Houk Development Company are creating an architectural landmark in their visionary plans for Park Fifth, the first luxury residential high-rise to be built in Downtown. The Park Fifth project will also include a five-star hotel, to be operated by one of the leading names in luxury hospitality.
In a defining moment of the renaissance that is transforming the heart of Los Angeles, the estimated $1 billion Park Fifth will elevate the Downtown horizon and bring a new, exciting style of opulent “infinity living” to the corner of Fifth and Olive Streets, across from historic Pershing Square. And it’s almost here—Park Fifth’s sales center, which includes life-sized models of its 732 residential units, will open by appointment in summer 2007, with groundbreaking slated for the first quarter of 2008, highlighting the project’s exquisite taste and luxurious atmosphere; the high-tech wealth of comfort, service and amenities; and the fantasy and flair of Park Fifth’s high-energy, super-connected, here-and-now scene.
Park Fifth living opens an infinite variety of possibilities to its residents’ imagination, from cultural activities, to entertainment and nightlife, to active exploration of L.A.’s vibrant Downtown. The sophisticated design’s expansive glass walls will command floor-to-ceiling, unimpeded panoramic views of the city, from the ocean to the mountains. The striking architecture of Park Fifth, designed by the internationally renowned firm of Kohn Pedersen Fox, integrates the refinement of a New York-style luxury residential tower with the golden, quintessentially Southern Californian climate and lifestyle.
“Loft architecture has dominated the large amount of residential development in Downtown Los Angeles in recent years. We believe the city is ready for a new phase of sophisticated urban living that integrates the upscale urban lifestyle with Southern California’s unique character and natural setting,” said Rich Marr, the project manager. “This pioneering project creates a landmark that will stand as a powerful statement of Downtown Los Angeles’ revitalization into a cultural, entertainment and social center.”
The design features a lofty 76-story tower and a 43-story tower, connected by a 15-story residential bridge. The hotel will occupy the lower floors through the bridge area, and the condominium units in the 43-story tower will be identified with the hotel brand and offer their residents access to the hotel’s amenities and services.
While the 76-story tower will attain icon status as the tallest residential building west of Chicago, two mid-rise buildings surrounding a plaza will relate in height and proportion to the early 20th-century commercial buildings of the historic Downtown core. A monumental, eight-story “urban window” through the Fifth Street façade frames a view into the plaza from Pershing Square.
The plaza embodies the vision of Park Fifth’s creators of a Downtown oasis. Without sacrificing sunlight, open air spaces and green foliage, architecture and nature blend in Park Fifth’s plaza, sky gardens, private lanais and terraces. Glass balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows allow barrier-free views of the vastness of the city and its marvelous natural setting.
Park Fifth will offer 732 living units of varying sizes, attuned to the infinitely varied styles of California living. Choices for residents range from $400,000 to $3 million, including:
• Beautifully appointed units, ideal for live/work spaces
• Pied-à-terre suites designed for commuting professionals
• Two-story, 3,000-square-foot residences, and
• All units equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including telecommunications, entertainment, and next-generation “smart house” systems.
Amenities for residents include:
• Two rooftop pools and oversized whirlpools with food and bar service
• An observation deck on the 76-story tower
• Rooftop gardens on the 15th and 36th floors of the 43-story tower with built-in fire pits
• Fitness rooms in each tower
• 20-seat theater viewing rooms, music and video libraries in each tower, and
• Classrooms for wine tastings, cooking classes and other educational seminars.
The Park Fifth Public Plaza Level features a sculpture garden, water features, a casual café, and an elegant restaurant offering indoor and outdoor dining overlooking the park at Pershing Square. The hotel at Park Fifth features a luxurious health spa offering treatments to residents and guests.
The world-class Park Fifth project team includes design by globally renowned architect Eugene Kohn of Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), who was responsible for such imaginative venues as the Rodin Museum (Seoul), the award-winning towers and urban courtyard of De Hoftoren (the Hague and the Museum of Modern Art, New York). The Los Angeles office of the Leo A. Daly architectural firm will assist KPF to complete working drawings and provide construction supervision. Interior design is by the leading international firm Hirsch Bedner Associates.
About Park Fifth Development Partners
Park Fifth’s capital partners, Africa Israel and Namco Capital Group, along with development partner Houk Development Company, bring a wealth of experience and capability to the venture. Africa Israel is a publicly traded, Israel-based international development company with a strong U.S. presence with its U.S. headquarters in New York and multiple projects underway in Manhattan, Miami, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and now Los Angeles. Brentwood, CA-based Namco Capital Group owns and manages more than 10 million square feet of residential and commercial projects in Southern California and across the U.S. Namco also owns a community bank in Los Angeles, operates an insurance brokerage firm, serves as a large 1031 exchange accommodator and has an active mezzanine financing division. Houk Development Company has been responsible for numerous high-profile projects throughout the Los Angeles area for nearly 30 years. Based in Los Angeles, the company has been a major participant in the Downtown renaissance and currently owns, develops and manages real estate properties in Southern California.
For more information please visit www.parkfifth.com or call (213) 629-0000 for an appointment.
FOR FURTHER REFERENCE TO EZRI NAMVAR:
Namvar’s most formidable and dogged opponent has been Abraham Assil, a wealthy real estate investor who had parked $6 million with Namvar. When Assil heard the rumors of difficulty, he went to see Namvar.
“He played with my head,” Assil says. “He sent me looking for a needle in a haystack.”
Assil says Namvar promised to secure his loan with an interest in a penthouse in Israel. So Assil went to Israel to check it out. He says he later found out the penthouse was already being used as collateral for someone else. Assil says he concluded that Namvar had been transferring assets to his relatives and friends.
“Ezri is about misinformation and derailment,” Assil says. “Finally it clicked. He was just buying time. I had to move quickly.”
Assil gathered up a handful of other creditors and, in December 2008, forced Namvar into involuntary bankruptcy.
Meeting a reporter for coffee recently in the courtyard of the Montage Beverly Hills, the luxury hotel where Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has lived since separating from his wife, Assil shows up impeccably dressed and exuding old-world charm.
“What’s your name?” he asks the waitress.
“Cassie,” she says.
“My first girlfriend’s name was Cassie.”
He wastes no time getting down to business: “I’d rather get robbed off the street by someone who puts a gun to my head. When someone does what they did, it’s different. They steal your trust. They steal your honor. They never apologized.”
When the goat cheese arrives, he asks if it’s kosher, then continues.
“A kid who steals a loaf of bread — he gets charged. But what about the guy who commits the biggest fraud in the history of L.A.? He gets only five to seven years?” Assil says, speculating about Namvar’s coming prison sentence. “And they let him enjoy what he stole?”
Assil has harsh words for federal investigators, who, he says, barely scratched the surface of Namvar’s crimes. He also is unsparing with the leaders of the Orthodox community. He believes they should have spoken out more forcefully and compelled the Namvar family to repay creditors.
“The religious authorities have an obligation to protect those who cannot defend themselves,” he says. “Their silence speaks volumes.”
Assil had hoped to be semiretired by now, but without the $6 million he lost to Namvar, he must keep working. Still, he acknowledges that he remains comfortable.
He is still following the money with grim determination. He believes “suitcases full of cash” went to Israel. Some may be in Turkey.
“He misjudged me,” Assil says. “He miscalculated my abilities and my perseverance. This is not over yet. This is just the beginning.”