Skip to main content

Weinstein prevails, if only temporarily, after a bitter (and delayed) eviction on Pacific Street

After nearly seven months of delay, Prospect Heights property owner Henry Weinstein finally saw his tenants and subtenants evicted yesterday from 752 Pacific Street, an industrial building turned office building in the Atlantic Yards footprint.

"It's a hollow victory, because I'm probably going to lose my property in a month or two," acknowledged Weinstein.

He nevertheless expressed satisfaction that he had prevailed in a process by which his tenant, developer Shaya Boymelgreen, allied with Forest City Ratner (FCR) to suggest that an acre of the 22-acre Atlantic Yards side was "controlled" by FCR, thus minimizing the need for eminent domain.

"They thought they were going to run me over," he said. Weinstein sees that process as an attempt to devalue his property and thus save FCR tens of millions of dollars. And he says his tenants owe him hundreds of thousands of dollars in back rent.

(A deceptive property map was finally corrected last September. The asterixes in the above map suggest that the property was controlled by FCR but in dispute. I suggested that the default description favored Forest City Ratner.)

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) told the Daily News that they, not Weinstein, now control the property, having prevailed in the eminent domain process. Weinstein told me that, even if title had been transferred, he believed that ownership didn't change until payment was made--and, like others, he'd received a lowball pre-vesting offer.

An argument in court is scheduled for April 21 regarding the timing of condemnees' departure and payment issues.

Above, Weinstein outside his building, looking east from Carlton Avenue. He bought the building, a former carbon paper manufacturing facility, in 1985; it had been closed for two decades.

Broader story

The one Daily News photo attached to the story portrayed Weinstein with Patti Hagan and Steve deSeve, two Atlantic Yards protesters, but the photos (and set) by Tracy Collins tell a broader story.

Weinstein said he renovated major systems and the building's structure, while Boymelgreen--who renovated the nearby Newswalk and bought the Ward Bakery with renovation plans (before selling it to Forest City Ratner)--did interior renovations, allowing use as office space.

Need to break in

While an eviction notice was posted on the door at 752 Pacific on Wednesday, it was not visible to me when I walked by Wednesday night--though a similar notice was visible at the adjacent parking lot. Weinstein said the notice on the door had been ripped down.

Weinstein said the tenants had been uncooperative, unwilling to open the building on Tuesday, when he was denied access when he tried to visit with a representative of Forest City Ratner and the Cornerstone Group, a real estate firm acting as the ESDC's consultant. On Thursday, Weinstein had to have the locks broken with a crowbar and a drill.


Gaining entry on sixth floor

Inside, Weinstein said, the tenants had shut off the elevator, requiring a walk up the stairs and another breaking of locks, this time on the sixth floor.


A renovated office

The office space, in this panorama, seems to have been nicely renovated. Weinstein told me he didn't even think FCR would demolish the building but instead would use it for office space. The official plan, however, is to use the entire block--bounded by Pacific and Dean streets and Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues--for interim surface parking.


A Boymelgreen lieutenant

Exiting the building is Eugene Zlatopolsky, once described by the New York Sun as the manager of Boymelgreen Development's legal department and someone Weinstein has tangled with multiple times.


Tense atmosphere

While there was no need for the armed sheriff's office personnel to use their sidearms, the atmosphere was tense, according to Weinstein and Collins. (I wasn't there.) The 15-20 tenants and subtenants had less than half an hour to carry computers, valuable papers, and other equipment downstairs and outside.


Outside the building

Boymelgreen is a Hasidic Jew of the Lubavitcher movement; several of the occupants wore garb indicating they are fellow Hasids. Boymelgreen, who saw much success as a developer and banker, recently hit a rocky stretch, with LibertyPointe, a bank he helped start, failing last month.


Under the sheriff's supervision

At one point, a representative of the sheriff's office had an animated conversation with a man Weinstein said identified himself as Benjamin Herbst.


A Weinstein foe

Herbst was not happy with the presence of a photographer. He told the Daily News his son did security work for Boymelgreen and ran his own security business out of the building; he blamed Weinstein for "spite and vindictiveness." Weinstein, in turn, had similar words for Herbst, saying the tenant had promised him he wouldn't get the recovery he seeks.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.