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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66th Precinct, Shomrim, Violence and the Hispanic Victims of the Crimes, Who is Hating Whom?

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-metro-false-accusation-orthodox-borouh-park-nypd-20181101-story.html

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Dear Readers:

We ask that you watch the video as linked above carefully.  It can be found on the page covering the related article on THE DAILY NEWS. 

Our sources have told us that it is not uncommon for Hispanic and other non-ultra-Orthodox community members to be “roughed up” by members of the ultra-Orthodox community and by members of the Shomrim (or neighborhood watch). We have been told that the non-ultra-Orthodox victims of these crimes rarely say anything at all for fear that anything they say will be deemed “hate speech” thereby paving the way for the involvement of the Hate Crimes Unit.

Self-defense should not be deemed a hate crime.

Our sources have stated that it is particularly colorful when these incidents occur in the 66th Precinct, with specific implications that precinct members are permitted to moonlight after work and moonlighting for the ultra-Orthodox community can be very lucrative.

We suppose it might also help with anger management at the end of a rough day…

We have been told that there are likely many more similar videos like the one above that either have not been exposed, are “lost,” “hidden,” or “missing.” The stories we are receiving are similar to tales of protection money and gang violence, though more common in the setting of “collections.”

It might be time for law enforcement to start paying attention to what is going on within the ultra-Orthodox communities. There are CCTV cameras everywhere in that community. If you are not finding one, or if the video happens to be missing or shut off, there is something very wrong.

The members of the ultra-Orthodox community are not generally sloppy. If there is no footage it is because someone did not want there to be footage.

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-metro-false-accusation-orthodox-borouh-park-nypd-20181101-story.html

Hispanic man allegedly roughed up in his doorway by Jewish neighborhood security patrol raises questions about group’s tactics

An accusation that a Brooklyn man yelled “Kill all the Jews” sparked a wild confrontation that led to an arrest that was later voided — and raised questions about members of a neighborhood patrol who allegedly pulled the man from his home and roughed him up.

The confrontation, captured on video obtained by the Daily News, happened just past midnight last Thursday. The footage shows a 26-year-old Hispanic man getting accosted at the doorway to his home — on 42nd St., in the heart of Orthodox Borough Park — by two other men believed to be from Shmira, a neighborhood patrol group, a source said.

Shmira denied being involved in the confrontation, saying it showed up on the scene after the Hispanic man was involved in the altercation at his front door.

“We absolutely didn’t do anything wrong,” said Levi Leifer, the director of Shmira of Borough Park.

Police said the incident started when the Hispanic man and an Orthodox man argued about a blocked car. At some point, police said, the Hispanic man tried to get into his home.

But video taken from across the street showed the Hispanic man being followed up the stairs by another man, then pushing back as the man appeared to be keeping him from getting inside. Eventually, a third man joins in as the Hispanic man is pulled back outside and roughed up.

The video ends with a van pulling up in front of the house and several men piling out of it, as one of the men involved in the confrontation at the doorway motions towards it.

Police said the Orthodox man involved in the argument about the blocked car called Shmira and reported that the Hispanic man yelled “Kill all the Jews” and punched him. The same allegation was made to police.

The source said other video shows the Hispanic man crossing the street, then arguing with two Orthodox men who accused him of breaking into cars.

“Kill Jews,” they later accused the Hispanic man of saying. The Hispanic man, who could not be reached for comment, at some point was able to call police, the source said.

Neighbors told The News varying accounts, including that the Hispanic man mentioned he wanted to kill Jews.

The Hispanic man was arrested based on the account of the first Orthodox man he argued with. He was taken to the 66th Precinct and the Hate Crime Unit was called in to investigate. After video was located the Hispanic man was released.

Police wouldn’t say what led to the decision not to charge the men seen roughing up the Hispanic man, though Leifer said Shmira has given the NYPD a roster of all its members.

A law enforcement source said the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office is considering assault charges in the case.

The DA’s office had no comment.

To continue to the original article, click here.

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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Real Estate Firms Buying Elections in New York

Can NY politicians fight Big Real Estate?

In the debate between Cynthia Nixon and Andrew Cuomo last month, the discussion briefly turned to the issue of homelessness. Cuomo touted his career-long dedication to housing, beginning with a nonprofit he founded in the 1980s. Meanwhile, Nixon blamed the state’s housing crisis, in part, on the governor’s close ties with the real estate industry.

“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we have one of the largest housing crises that we’ve ever seen in this state when the number one contributor to Andrew Cuomo is the real estate industry and corporate developers,” Nixon said.

In the lead up to Thursday’s primary, candidates for two crucial state offices — governor and attorney general — have taken aim at the real estate industry’s role in politics. Campaign contributions from the industry have loomed large in both races. For instance, Attorney General candidate Zephyr Teachout has refused donations from corporate developers, and Letitia James refunded a $10,000 campaign contribution from a controversial landlord. In the governor’s race, Nixon has criticized Cuomo’s top donors — which included more than $700,000 from real estate in the first half of 2018 — and called for dramatic housing reform, including universal rent control.

….

 

Money talks

The past three years have thrown the influence of real estate in politics into sharp relief with the conviction of two of the most powerful men in Albany. Earlier this year former State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate majority leader Dean Skelos were both re-convicted on corruption charges. Both cases involved leveraging relationships with landlords and developers who, at the time, were lobbying the officials on issues important to the real estate industry, like the 421a tax break.

John Kaehny, executive director and a founding board member of good-government group Reinvent Albany, said given that the real estate industry was at the center of both scandals, there should be even more interest in how donations from real estate impacts elections. He said state elections are especially vulnerable because limited liability companies are treated as individuals rather than corporations. Until rules are reformed, real estate will continue to wield considerable sway over statewide elections, he said.

“This is really a basic matter of money versus people,” he said. “The LLC loophole and the fact that it essentially allows unlimited contributions, allows real estate executives to flex their muscles in extraordinary ways.”

LLCs have become a preferred vehicle for bypassing state campaign contribution rules, especially for real estate companies which often create LLCs for each new development. Under state law, individuals can donate up to $44,000 to candidates running for statewide office, while corporations are capped at $5,000. The state legislature has tried on at least three occasions to hold LLCs to the same restrictions as corporations.

“We’ve passed it in the assembly several times, and then, it goes nowhere,” said state Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who has endorsed Nixon for governor. “It dies because it fails in the senate.”

As previously reported by The Real Deal, real estate donated more than $733,000 to Cuomo’s re-election campaign in the first half of 2018. His top donor during this timeframe was the Durst Organization, with $75,000 across four LLCs and James L. Nederlander of the Nederlander Organization with $65,000. Cuomo’s favored attorney general candidate, Public Advocate Letitia James, has raised over $280,000 from 80 real estate donors. But she’s also returned donations from certain landlords, including $10,000 from Joel Landau, whose firm Allure Group was at the center of the Rivington House scandal. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney raised at least $433,000 in real estate contributions through the end of August. Teachout has touted the fact that she doesn’t take money from corporate developers and on her campaign website calls for a ramp-up in investigations into illegal tenant harassment, tax fraud and money laundering. She has, however, received $21,000 from multifamily landlord Arthur Cornfeld and L+M Development Partners’ Ron Moelis.

“Why has New York City real estate been able to be so dirty and so cruel for so long? The answer is developer money,” Teachout said during a press conference last month, according to Politico.

Her stance did not go unnoticed by the industry. In late August, Related Companies paid $100,000 to a political action committee that quickly spent the funds on a digital campaign that targeted Teachout, according to a report by Politico.

“The real estate industry is not monolithic. Like journalism and politics, it is not all good, or all bad and not the source of all society’s ills, no matter who says so,” said the Durst Organization’s Jordan Barowitz. “Difficult problems are complicated to solve and require thoughtful collaboration, because of this, scapegoating inevitably solves nothing.”

All politics are local

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23 Wall Street – China Sonangol – Rearing It’s Not-so-Kosher Head Again…

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THE REAL DEAL

Jack Terzi’s JTRE sues Chinese firm Sonangol over 23 Wall deal

Jack Terzi’s $140 million deal to buy the former JPMorgan building at 23 Wall Street is in jeopardy because the seller, China Sonangol, allegedly refuses to play ball.

According to a lawsuit Terzi filed against Sonangol in Manhattan Supreme Court that his deal isn’t moving forward because of Sonangol’s refusal to cooperate with the escrow agent. The escrow agent has refused to release the down payment on the purchase, because of concern that controversial Hong Kong tycoon Sam Pa may benefit from the deal, the suit claims.

Pa was the CEO of Sonangol – his current affiliation with the company is unclear – a Singapore-based conglomerate that has been in contract to sell the historic Financial District property to Terzi for over a year.

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Pa was detained by Chinese authorities in 2015 as part of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. In 2014, the U.S. alleged that Pa bribed Zimbabwean officials in order to carry out “illicit diamond deals.” He is on the Treasury’s “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons” list, which prevents Americans from doing business with him.

Terzi, who’s known mostly for buying and leasing up small and mid-sized retail properties, shot into prominence last year when he entered contract to buy the 160,000-square-foot property at 23 Wall at the eye-popping figure of $140 million. But month after month went by, and he never closed, raising speculation that all was not smooth with the deal. According to sources familiar with the property, Terzi has been in talks with Paramount Group to provide financing for the acquisition and redevelopment.

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The former JP Morgan building at 23 Wall has long sat dormant since the bank stopped using the building in the late 2000s. Sonangol bought the property in 2008 for $150 million from a subsidiary of Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments. But attempts to court tenants like Apple and an entertainment venue never came to fruition.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

Off the Books Entitlements, Section 8, Bilking the System in One of the Most Gentrified Neighborhoods

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NY Daily News Photograph.

Hasidic neighborhood in South Williamsburg is a top beneficiary of Section 8, but some question whether law is strictly followed

From the NY Daily News

Little boys in yarmulkes peer from apartment balconies, watching the men below toss bread into a bonfire.

The annual spring ritual marks the first day of Passover in the Hasidic Jewish enclave of South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where daily life is built on ancient laws and religious devotion. But the insular community depends on outside money to survive — federal subsidies to help many low-income Hasidic families cover the rent.

New York City’s 123,000 vouchers make this the largest Section 8 voucher program in the country. Reluctant landlords and rising rents are making vouchers nearly impossible to use in many areas of the city. Tenants, especially larger families, are often relegated to the edges of Brooklyn and the Bronx. That’s why this cluster of Hasidic households stands out.

The neighborhood is home to one of the highest concentrations of Section 8 housing vouchers in the city, according to federal data analyzed by WNYC and the Daily News. In several of its census tracts, Section 8 tenants compose more than 30% of residents, a level reached only in scattered pockets of the Bronx.

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Developer At it Again – Ramapo

 

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Viola condominium developer at it again: Matzav.com

 

http://preserve-ramapo.com/viola-condominium-developer-at-it-again-matzav-com/

 

This article appeared Jan. 30 on www.matzav.com 

The development has been shut down for months.  But its developer has been quite busy.

After the unprecedented stop work order issued by the Town of Ramapo last October against Viola Estates Condominium on Viola Road – the first such order resulting from neighbors fighting the town’s unrestrained overdevelopment – the developer of Viola Estates got to work.

First, he and his supporters pushed rabbonim, dayanim, askanim and other community leaders in an attempt to stop the neighbors who brought the lawsuit that led to the order.  But upon hearing the full story, these community leaders stopped their own involvement instead.

Then he sought to create some distance between himself and the project by bringing in another developer.  But he couldn’t find anyone to accept his terms.

So he tried to push his way back to the Town to allow him to continue work at the project.  But the acting building inspector was “unable to attend” such a meeting, according to the developer.

Now, in a new set of papers, he wants to bypass the building department by applying to the CDRC for a revised site plan, to be heard at its next meeting on February 9th.

Let’s remember the context:  the developer spot-zoned the project from 9 families to 44 in an agreement with neighbors that they would not fight his application if he in fact limited the development to 44 single-family units.  He then proceeded to build accessory apartments – illegal in his newly created zone and in brazen defiance of his agreement.  The neighbors met with him to settle the issue peacefully, but according to court documents, the developer said “he had built and intends to sell the dwelling units as single units with accessory apartments.”  When asked to abide by his original agreement with them, he “flatly and repeatedly refused.”

Under the guidance of daas Torah, the neighbors first complained to the Town, which ignored them, and then took the developer to court to enjoin him from building illegal apartments.  The court ordered a site inspection by the neighbors’ experts, whose report was jaw-dropping: not only had accessory apartments been built (with separate – and marked – boilers, heating units, plumbing and electric panels, and even kitchens where the plans called for walk-in closets), but preparations were also made for even more apartments to house a total of at least 176 families. At that point, the Town issued its order.

Now the developer is back.  In an application for a revised site plan, his attorney acknowledges that a stop work order was issued, but only for changes “not consistent with the site plan or with the Zoning Code,” instead of flagrant violations of law.

“The applicant made changes to the interior of the buildings,” the application continues, “that have been interpreted as preparing the buildings to host illegal accessory apartments” – no doubt a reference to the actual build-out of the apartments, the installation of separate building systems servicing them, and the visible marking of such systems as in fact supplying the accessory apartments.  “While the applicant does not agree that the buildings were to be sold as having these accessory apartments, it does acknowledge that the changes were built, [and] that they could have been used by an end user to create the apartments with minor effort,” such minor effort perhaps being to rent them as accessory apartments.

The developer’s application ignores inconvenient truths.  It fails to disclose to the CDRC, for example, that a court action had to be brought for the stop work order, which action is ongoing; that the order was issued only after the neighbors’ own experts brought the extent of the wrongdoing to the attention of the court (and not that it was issued by the Building Department “in response to its [own] findings at the site”); and most egregiously, that additional apartments were prepared beyond the accessory apartments which would have resulted in a density of almost 2000% of the original zoning.

The current application says that the developer wants to cure violations “as a showing of good faith” to continue building.  Is this like someone who wants to avoid punishment after getting caught stealing by returning the stolen goods as a sign of “good faith”?  As the neighbors’ attorney said in open court, “this is a fraud committed on the town, the neighbors and the Attorney General.  It’s encouraging that the town issued a stop work order.  But what they should have done is revoked his building permit.”

January 30, 2017 Matzav.com