Real Estate Billionaires Who Stand to Profit from Amazon HQ Move, NY

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From left to right: Tom Elghanayan, Fred Elghanayan and Henry Elghanayan. CHESTER HIGGINS JR/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX

These New York Real Estate Billionaires Stand To Profit From Amazon’s HQ2

Amid the news about Amazon’s HQ2 announcement—the e-commerce giant chose New York’s Long Island City and northern Virginia’s Crystal City as the victors of its nationwide search—there’s the question of who in the real estate world is jumping for joy at the new opportunities. That likely includes a trio of low-profile billionaire brothers and real estate titan Jerry Speyer.

The Elghanayan family, which was worth more than $2 billion in 2015 when Forbes last estimated their fortune, traces their wealth back to Nourollah Elghanayan, an Iranian-native who started buying land in Manhattan in the 1950s and 1960s. His three sons, Tom, Fred and Henry, expanded the family business throughout Manhattan and Queens, acquiring and developing iconic buildings such as FBI’s former New York City headquarters and the Carnegie Hall Tower. In 2009, the family split up their holdings amid disagreements over succession plans. Henry reportedly won a coin toss and chose the Rockrose name and a portfolio of development sites and residential buildings; Tom and Fred took the rest, including more than 5,000 apartment units and properties in Long Island City, and rolled them into an entity called TF Cornerstone.

Since then, Tom and Fred Elghanayan have capitalized on New York’s up-and-coming neighborhoods, building gleaming luxury rental apartment towers in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen and in downtown Brooklyn. But it’s their bet in Long Island City that may prove to be the most prescient. In addition to two rental apartment towers the Elghanayans transferred to TF Cornerstone, the brothers have purchased or built four more rental buildings in the past six years, giving them over 3,000 rental units in Long Island City’s waterfront community of Queens West.

In July 2017, TF Cornerstone furthered its move into Long Island City, winning a proposal to redevelop two city-owned sites in Anable Basin, a waterfront district neighboring Queens West. Its winning bid calls for a 1.5 million square feet mixed-use project with 1,000 rental units, commercial, retail and light industrial spaces, and public park areas. Just months later, Plaxall—another family firm that manages over one million square feet of real estate—submitted plans to rezone nearly 15 acres of the Anable Basin into a mixed-use development spanning almost 6 million square feet.

Now the sketches of glass towers and open air parks have been fast tracked to reality as Amazon sets its sights on the Anable Basin. According to the Seattle company’s memorandum of understanding with New York, it has circled the Anable Basin area as its target site for HQ2. TF Cornerstone confirmed that it will partner with Amazon to build out its project. “As a family-owned company founded by Queens natives, TF Cornerstone is proud to welcome Amazon to Long Island City, bringing new jobs to the borough and preserving significant public benefits,” says Jake Elghanayan, a principal at TF Cornerstone and a son of Tom Elghanayan.

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With Amazon planning to take up 4 million square feet of office space over the next decade (and bringing on 25,000 workers), the Elghanayans are in prime position to take advantage of the increasing demand for office real estate and new apartments. With excitement already building in Long Island City, Tom and Fred’s fortune looks to be getting a boost in the near future.

But Henry Elghanayan, who runs his own firm Rockrose Development Corp., didn’t make out so badly either. The former lawyer, whose collection of development sites included several in Long Island City, erected his own luxury rentals near the One Court Square area, constructing nearly 2,500 units across three towers in the past six years. With another building due to open in 2019, and an older waterfront property that Henry received when the brothers split up, his Rockrose will be a major landlord in Long Island City with nearly 3,000 rental apartments.

Jerry Speyer, cofounder and chairman of Tishman Speyer.

Jerry Speyer, cofounder and chairman of Tishman Speyer.GETTY

Another big winner in Amazon’s decision is real estate firm Tishman Speyer’s billionaire chairman Jerry Speyer. Speyer started the real estate giant, which has developed over 167 million square feet of space from Chicago to Berlin, in 1978 with his father-in-law Robert Tishman. Son Rob Speyer is now CEO and oversees the company’s operations. While famous for redeveloping iconic skyscrapers like Manhattan’s Chrysler building and Rockefeller Center, Tishman Speyer has also become a major player in the transformation of Long Island City. The firm claims to be the area’s most prolific residential and office developer and says it will have completed construction on 3.7 million square feet in the neighborhood by end of next year.

A decade ago, the New York firm broke ground on Two Gotham Center, a 22-story office tower just a 20-minutes stroll from Anable Basin. Tishman Speyer sold the completed building to Canadian firm H&R REIT in 2011 but continued on, partnering with H&R and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund to develop two office and retail towers named the JACX, and three rental apartment towers named Jackson Park.

To read the remainder of the article click here.

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Brooklyn Landlord Allegedly Also Brothel Owner…. And then There’s Lakewood

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THE REAL DEAL

Brooklyn landlord with $87M portfolio charged with running prostitution ring out of his buildings

Isaac Schwartz, who owns 48 properties through shell corporations, was arrested last month for enterprise corruption and conspiracy.

UPDATED, Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 11:16 p.m.: One Ditmas Park resident thought he had it bad enough after enduring bed bugs, bulging walls and a hole in the ceiling. But then he learned his building was being used to service an illegal brothel.

Another Park Slope resident also learned there were apartments being used for prostitution in her building.

Both residents had the same landlord, Isaac Schwartz, a regular on the New York City public advocate’s “worst landlord” list who was arrested last month after police discovered a prostitution ring operating in his buildings, according to The New York Times.

Schwartz’s arrest highlighted the role complicit landlords play in enabling illegal prostitution rings to operate in residential buildings. Police alleged that four of Schwartz’s Brooklyn properties,

2007 Foster Avenue483 4th Avenue880 Gates Avenue and 203 Onderdonk Avenue, had housed brothels, as part of a prostitution ring run by a former police detective. The landlord pleaded not guilty and was released without bail on his own recognizance. According to the Times, Schwartz’s portfolio numbers 48 buildings valued at about $87 million.

Citing housing court documents, The Times reported that Schwartz, who works as an EMT in Borough Park, runs his rental company with Mendy Lowy and a contracting firm, Powerful Electric, with his brother-in-law Shalon Seelfreund. Schwartz and Lowy were also connected to a strange kidnapping ring in Lakewood, New Jersey. Schwartz and Lowy paid $2 million in bond to secure the release of a rabbi and another man charged with abduction and assault related to divorces in the Orthodox community, the Times reported.  [NYT] — David Jeans

Correction: An earlier version noted Schwartz was the developer behind a project in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn; it’s a different developer with the same name. 

The Allure Of Luxury Housing at the Expense of the Elderly – 2266 Cropsey Ave.

Allure Group planning luxury rentals on Brooklyn nursing home site

The firm behind the Rivington House sale is building a 243-unit project

UPDATED, Nov. 7, 5:03 p.m.: Allure Group, the real estate developer at the center of the Rivington House nursing home scandal, is filing permits to build a luxury rental project on a site that also houses a Brooklyn senior facility.

The firm and its partner Landpex Development are looking to build a 30-story rental property at 2266 Cropsey Avenue in Bath Beach, according to documents filed with the Department of Buildings on Wednesday.

Allure and Landpex filed the permits under alternate addresses 2230 Cropsey Avenue and 1625 Shore Parkway. City records show a rectangular site, which runs the length of Cropsey Avenue between Bay 23rd Street and 23rd Avenue and is home to the King David Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, a facility that provides long-term care for seniors. Allure told The Real Deal that the filing is not for the site of the senior facility. It is for the adjacent parking lot it also owns and a row of houses beyond. The company also said that the senior home will remain open, and that it plans to invest $10 million in the property.

The new plans call for a 243-unit residential complex that spans 222,300 square feet. The proposed structure will be divided between 196,000 square feet of residential space and 26,300 square feet for a community facility. If approved as proposed, the building would be 326 feet tall. Amenities would include a fitness room and recreation area for tenants, a pool, a men’s spa and an outdoor lounge on the 23rd floor. There will also be a community day care facility on the ground floor.

Allure acquired the property for $30.1 million in 2015, property records show. It was previously owned by the Sephardic Home for the Aged. The firm took out a $55.4 million mortgage on the property last June.

Allure, headed by Joel Landau, was a central figure in the Rivington House scandal. It paid a $2 million legal settlement following an investigation by then-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman into the sale of the deed-restricted Lower East Side nursing home. It sold the building for $116 million in 2015 to Slate Property Group, which had planned a luxury housing development at the site.

Landpex’s Joseph Flakowitz hung up the phone when asked about the project.

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH:

 

 

Rehab Consortium Nabs Bensonhurst Nursing Home for $30M

2266 Cropsey Avenue
2266 CROPSEY AVENUE.

Allure Group, a for-profit consortium of rehabilitation centers, has purchased what was called the Sephardic Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Bensonhurst. The property sold for $30.1 million on Dec 31, according to public records filed with the city on Tuesday.

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The site at 2266 Cropsey Avenue between Bay 32nd Street and 23rd Avenue, sold by Sephardic Home for the Aged, is comprised of 83,388 square feet, according to PropertyShark.

Under Allure’s ownership, the facility is now known as the King David Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. The company runs four other facilities across Brooklyn, one in Queens and one in Manhattan, according to its website.

“We are excited to extend our group’s reach to a new neighborhood in Brooklyn,” said Melissa Guglielmo, Allure’s chief operating officer, in a press release. “We’re proud to show a new community what we are all about.”

While less hyped, southwest Brooklyn has dramatically increased its volume of real estate activity recently, as Commercial Observer previously reported.

Based on Sephardic Home for the Aged’s website, the facility was a non-profit organization whose mission was to care for the Jewish elderly. The site was also used as a space for community meetings, such as jobs information nights listed on the Bensonhurst Bean. The status of the non-profit is unclear, though it shares the same address and phone number as King David Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.

Both Sephardic Home and Allure Group declined to comment.

 

The California Bank Backing Hasidic Developers…. AND 199 LEE AVENUE

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199 LEE AVENUE, GLOBAL PROPERTY ASSET MANAGEMENT, SECTION 8 HOUSING, 421A TAX ABATEMENTS, LIQUIDITY AND THE TAGWORDS FOR THE  MONEY THAT FINANCES HASIDIC DEVELOPERS

199 Lee Avenue is really little more than a building with thousands of PO Boxes. Most of the PO Boxes represents another company. Most if not all of which are Hasidic owned and some of which are the actual registered addresses for assorted companies which may or may not be real companies.

In fact, 199 Lee Avenue was also tied to the late Menachem Stark and properties that he owned.

We think it no coincidence, however, that in 2016 there was an investigation into the PO Boxes and some of the connected LLC’s; an investigation that appeared to end with Kushner and the White House, though the article below suggests that to credit Kushner in the White House is a stretch. Perhaps.

We will say this. It is not the first time 199 Lee Avenue has been on our radar and will likely not be the last. But rather than try and tell you to entire story again, we have highlighted the relevant passages of the articles below in Red. That should tell it all.

We believe that the authorities, Federal and State Tax authorities, the SEC (think REIT’s) and the FBI should still be paying attention, not only to 199 Lee but to a number of connected addresses, some of which are listed below. Please pay attention to the below wherein it states that the Hasidic communities are some of the largest recipients of Section 8 Housing. We also presume that Medicare and Medicaid go hand-in-hand with that, a logical conclusion. But if you take a look at he numbers, particularly as they stand today, it simply does not make logical or reasonable sense. 

 

It’s 1999. AOL is how most people receive email, and computers everywhere could soon succumb to the Millenium bug. It’s also the year when a new lender emerges and quickly gains a reputation for catering to wealthy clients with “complicated” personal finances. Its name? Bank of Internet.

Flash forward to 2018. The bank has rebranded to BofI Federal, emerged unscathed from a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, and has made a major bet on a niche corner of New York commercial real estate — backing projects from some of Brooklyn’s most prolific Orthodox Jewish developers. It does this mostly by acquiring senior notes on loans originated by other funds.

Lately, the bank has been in the headlines for a pair of real estate loans tied to Kushner Companies, as ProPublica reported. At Toby Moskovits’ Bushwick office redevelopment at 215 Moore Street, BofI refinanced the last-known Brooklyn development loan held by Kushner Credit Opportunities Fund, a debt vehicle Kushner Companies founded in 2016. At One Journal Square in Jersey City, BofI put up funds to finance Fortress Investment Group’s $57 million bridge loan to Kushner Companies. That two-tower project has been plagued by problems, both political and financial, and it’s unclear if the company will be able to see it through.

In an interview with The Real Deal, Gregory Garrabrants, BofI’s CEO, said it was misleading to draw any connection between his firm’s business with Kushner Companies and the fact that the SEC investigation was dropped.

“There’s a political agenda behind talking about Kushner,” Garrabrants said. “I don’t know Mr. Kushner, but I don’t have to because we know Fortress.”

Deep Brooklyn

Though BofI, a San Diego-based company with $8.9 billion in assets, has long been active in single-family lending in New York, it only recently got into commercial real estate. Sources said it started to appear as a financing option in “warehouse lending,” in which a bank issues a loan to a warehouse owner and funds that loan with debt from a secondary lender, such as BofI. Essentially, it’s a way for lenders to issue loans without having to use their own money. This type of deal is often referred to as loan hypothecation, in which the original loan is the collateral for the debt a lender seeks from a bank.

“It’s more of a West Coast thing,” said David Eyzenberg, a debt broker, on the hypothecation structure. “Where we really got to know [BofI] was in providing leverage to hard-money lenders.”

The bank’s services have been especially appealing to developers in Brooklyn, specifically the middle-market investors and luxury rental builders hailing from the borough’s ultra-Orthodox communities, according to an analysis of property records by TRD. The analysis found that of Bofl’s 10 largest loans backed by real estate in the last three years, eight were tied to assets owned by Brooklyn developers, including a number from Williamsburg’s Hasidic community.

Hasidic developers commonly prefer to finance in smaller loan increments over several stages, allowing them to revise design plans or recapitalize with additional partners and then restructure the financing, sources said. The approach stands in contrast with Manhattan’s development giants, which traditionally shoot for a large institutional loan up-front.

Charles Kushner, Toby Moskovits, 215 Moore Street and 61 Adams Street

“There is a certain type of sponsor turning to this bank for land and development deals, which have a higher cost of capital and are harder to finance,” said an investor familiar with the bank who requested anonymity. “And so the bank has largely been serving as a bridge lender to the same players.”

The list includes prominent Hasidic builders such as Simon Dushinsky’s Rabsky Group, Abraham Leser’s Leser Group, Cheskie Weisz’s CW Realty and Zelig Weiss’ Riverside Developers. Public records show Dushinsky has the most debt on BofI’s books, with more than $80 million spread across three loans.

The model means BofI has little to no interaction with the sponsors themselves. Scott Barone, whose firm Barone Management secured $15.8 million from BofI via Emerald Creek Capital in 2016, said he “never had any actual dealings with them.”

Sources identified Sal Salzillo as one of the main point people leading lender financings on development deals for BofI in New York. However, Salzillo left in March for Sandhills Bank, a South Carolina-based bank owned by the Kalikow real estate family. He could not be reached for comment.

Garrabrants wouldn’t reveal the names of his New York real estate team members and said the firm does not target any specific community for its business.

“There’s no specific marketing or any kind of specific targeting of any particular group of borrowers,” he said.

The wide web

In 2016, the SEC started hitting the bank with subpoenas, after a whistleblower filed a lawsuit in 2015 alleging the bank might have been lending illegally to certain foreign nationals  in possible violation of federal money laundering laws. The suit also alleged the bank failed to fully disclose certain loan practices to regulators. The SEC dropped its investigation in June 2017 without taking any legal action. Garrabrants attributed the lawsuit and subsequent inquiries to the machinations of angry short sellers who watched the bank’s stock continue to climb. In a January 2017 earnings call, he called the allegations “fake news.”

But some have questioned whether the SEC dropping its investigation and the bank’s lending to a major Kushner Companies development project is too much of a coincidence. Jared Kushner joined the White House last January as a senior adviser, and although he has resigned from company positions, he still retains ownership in much of the company portfolio. Garrabrants dismissed these questions as part of a “tin-hat conspiracy” and said the SEC cleared the investigation months before it began talks with Fortress — Kushner’s lender at One Journal Square — about acquiring the senior interest in the loan.

Kushner Companies has faced a series of challenges at the project and it appears unlikely that Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, a Democrat, will grant the company building permits or tax abatements, though he denies it has anything to do with opposition to the Trump administration. Garrabrants was critical of Fulop, but said BofI will make money in the deal regardless. If Kushner Companies can’t build it or if it defaults, someone else will get the project done, he said.

“With respect to any kind of hurdles that arise as a result of any kind of issues related to some of the things that I’m sure people who are motivated in certain in manners put in place,” Garrabrants said in a statement apparently directed at Fulop, “hurdles in respect to [Kushner] in particular, and essentially punish him for his political affiliation, those are more difficult.”

However, he continued, “If we ended up with an ownership interest. … There will be people lining up to make sure that we don’t lose money on that project.

 

THE REAL DEAL ARTICLE TO FOLLOW:

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The Property Groups of New York – Slated for Unimaginable Wealth, Civic Minded? That’s for you to consider…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG3IvUZrBt4

 

Slate Property Group, Mega Developments and Community Boards – Voting Down these Projects

It would take quite a lot to convince us that the major property groups involved in New York’s mega projects have anything except money and financial benefit in mind. It would take a concerted effort of conciliatory behavior and cooperation with (not only journalists) but with civic and community leaders for us to even consider that there are “civic duties and responsibilities at play”. Slate is no exception. Consider the Rivington Street fiasco that has caused the owners of Slate a considerable amount of time and money to perform “damage control” and we have a hard time accepting that this is anything more than lip service. (See the following from November 28,2016. If you click on the title, you can follow the link)

Slate Property Group Attempts Damage Control After Rivington House Mess

To the community leaders in control of the votes necessary to pass measures that would allow these projects to pass, we recommend you look carefully. Perform your due diligence. Leopards do not change their spots. And if you want to know how the future is going to look, check the past behavior of the principals. There are precious few truly altruistic property developers in New York and far too many officials willing to accept significant offers of advancement in one form or another to count on them to have a straight moral compass.

We have provided you with a multitude of links to start your research. If it leads you to believe that the men like the principals of Slate are community minded, then so be it. We believe a project like this is a clean slate towards making money for the principals and housing unaffordable. The decision is for the community.

LM, 10.15.18

Brooklyn Paper – Click here to read full article:

Split decision: Vote on Downtown tower galvanizes board before majority pans project

It’s an “aye” toward compromise.

Community Board 2’s full board last week outright rejected a developer’s request to rezone Fulton Street land in order to erect a 40-story tower — but not before the civic guru who cast the lone vote in favor of the 80 Flatbush megadevelopment when the full board voted against it earlier this year urged his colleagues to follow suit this time around, arguing doing so would at least give the panel a seat at the table for discussions should the project move forward.

Clinton Hiller Lenny Singletary, CB2’s second vice chairman, told the panel that by not flat out opposing the proposed high-rise, it may be in a better position to negotiate some changes to the project in order to make it as beneficial as possible for the community.

“In this particular case, there is nothing wrong with making our own recommendation on what we want conditions to be,” Singletary said at a Wednesday full-board meeting. “It’s not whether you are pro or against development. It’s not an all or nothing thing.

Last month, the board’s Land Use Committee panned Manhattan-based builder Slate Property Group’s application to upzone a Fulton Street plot between Rockwell Place and Flatbush Avenue in order to erect the 558-foot, mixed-use tower with 139 apartments, roughly 40 of which will be below-market-rate, and office space.

And despite Singletary’s appeal, the full board ultimately voted to pan the proposal 19 to 13 with one abstention — even after other panel members urged their colleagues to think carefully before simply saying no, noting their opposition to 80 Flatbush did little to stop Council from approving a slightly shrunken version of the five-building complex in the end.

“We as a community board have to think going forward, we can pretty much tinker around the edges ” said John Dew, who once chaired the panel. “Our job is to do what’s best for the community, not stand and stomp.”

Singletary said board members could have used their concerns about the development — which include that it offers too little affordable housing, and creates too few jobs — as ammunition to demand the builder find ways to add more below-market-rate units and employment opportunities if they voted to approve the project with conditions, instead of simply telling the firm to take a hike.

The full board, however, unanimously cast its purely advisory vote against the proposal a month later. But that did not stop Council from green-lighting the project in July , a decision that led leaders of anti-development group Preserve Our Brooklyn Neighborhoods to sue the city in an attempt to stop construction of the tower, according to the organization’s president, who said its lawyer filed an Article 78 appeal — a motion that challenges decisions made by local or state agencies — last week.

And CB2’s full board voting to reject developments outright isn’t a new phenomenon, according to the panel’s district manager, who said he couldn’t recall a single time in recent history that its members voted to approve a project with conditions.

“Nothing immediately comes to mind,” said Rob Perris.

 

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Slate Property Group

http://weblink.ibrooklyn.com/real-estate-development-management/slate-property-group-173321

Slate Property Group Starts Lending Arm With $500M Yearly Goal

Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com/new-york/news/capital-markets/slate-property-group-lending-arm-500m-84572?utm_source=CopyShare&utm_medium=Browser

 

BFC, Slate to Redevelop Bedford Armory Into Mixed-Use Complex

https://commercialobserver.com/2015/12/bfc-slate-to-redevelop-bedford-armory-into-mixed-use-complex/

 

 

 

 

Fort Greene Residents to Sue Over High-Rise to Preserve Brooklyn Neighborhood

Fort Greene Residents To Sue City Over High-Rise Plans

An attorney for Preserve Our Brooklyn Neighborhoods will file suit to stop a proposed 13-story building from going up on South Portland.

 

FORT GREENE, BROOKLYN — Fort Greene residents plan to sue the city over a new development planned to go up on South Portland Avenue.

Grassroots organization Preserve Our Brooklyn Neighborhoods will file suit against the New York City Planning Commission in a last-ditch attempt to prevent a 13-story high rise from going up at 142 South Portland Ave., organizer Sandy Reiburn told Patch.

“Our low-rise and historic communities are being appropriated by rapacious development,” Reiburn said, “fueled by a mayor who asserts he’s configuring 300,000 new ‘affordable’ apartments, no matter how unaffordable nor how many generations of New Yorkers will be displaced.”

The property belongs to the Hanson Place Seventh Day Adventist Church, which first sought community support for the 50-affordable-unit complex in November 2017 by arguing the building would bring much-needed affordable housing to the neighborhood.

“They want what the lord wants,” developer Michael T. Rooney of MDG Design, the company commissioned to design the building, told residents in November. “They’re pleading with the neighborhood to stand with them on this.”

Developers initially presented plans that called for 75 percent of the units to be priced at or above the area median income, with rents for a three-bedroom apartment topping out at $3,150-per-month.

The City has since committed $50 million to subsidize the development under the mayor’s controversial Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which allows developers to construct larger buildings if a percentage of the units are affordably priced, said the group’s attorney Jack Lester.

Lester told Patch he will file an Article 78 later this week that argues the development “obliterates local zoning while not producing increased affordable housing as promised.”

 

TO READ THE ARTICLE IN ITS ORIGINAL CONTENT FORM CLICK HERE.

Inspectors Accepting Bribes to Speed up Developments, Shocking? Nope.

The Daily News

Fourteen people charged with bribing inspectors to speed up Brooklyn development projects

With new buildings popping up across Brooklyn, some corrupt property owners put a pair of city inspectors on retainer to avoid code violations, the Department of Investigation charged Wednesday.

The two Department of Buildings inspectors were among 14 individuals hit with charges in the latest crackdown on the resilient corruption that’s plagued the building sector in this city for decades.

The two inspectors were paid off by property owners and contractors to overlook code violations such as inoperable exit signs on residential and commercial buildings going up across Brooklyn, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said.

“Fabricating documents, lying about conducting inspections or about who is doing the work has serious consequences,” said Peters. “For the defendants it’s about expediting the construction timeline. It’s about making an extra buck.”

Financier gets probation for bribing state pension official

In all, 10 property owners, developers and contractors were charged in the scheme, along with a private sector asbestos inspector who took fees to fudge inspections and a master plumber who sold the use of his license.

Thirteen of the 14 were arrested in a pre-dawn sweep. All will be prosecuted by Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and were to be presented in court later Wednesday.

The two city inspectors were paid off with cash but also got free kitchen renovations and driveway upgrades to their private homes, the complaints allege.