Goodybe 2011: A year in Review

For those of you new to this blog or trying to get a handle on Predatory Equity in New York City – here’s your down-and-dirty year in review.

Highlights, Lowlights, and the Stuff in Between:

1. Lowlight: In April 2011, New York Affordable Housing Associates sold eight  distressed buildings to Bronx VIII LLC (Townhouse Management). While we still don’t know how much Townhouse paid for the buildings, the disappointing transaction was facilitated by New York Community Bank – who explicitly sold the debt to a developer the tenants did not endorse.

2. Somewhere In Between: In May of 2011, Finkelstein Timberger Real Estate bought the infamous ten building Milbank portfolio for the giant sum of $30 Million dollars. This transaction, which still reeks of over leveraging, was made through financing with Signature Bank. Fortunately for tenants, their advocacy throughout the process meant that all of the tenants are protected by an agreement to ensure repairs, eliminate the quest for back-rent, and cap the amount for potential MCI’s in the next two years. Additionally, six of the buildings entered the city’s Alternative Enforcement Program, ensuring further protection from the horrible conditions these tenants suffered for years.

3.  Highlight: In May 2011, after two years in foreclosure, the tenants at Borinquen Court in the Bronx had their building purchased by the non-profit organization West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing. It was a a hard earned victory and the tenants are looking forward to living in a building with the owner they chose!

4. Somewhere-In-Between: Rent regulation was extended in June 2011! The “grand compromise” however has many complaining about the fact that  rent-regulated affordable housing has not been permanently preserved due to the fact that vacancy decontrol is still in effect.

5. Lowlight: In September 2011, The Bluestone Group sold a group of six dilapidated Bronx buildings to Anthony Gazivoda for a whopping $17 Million dollars. This made for the fourth over leveraging of this severely distressed portfolio.

6. Highlight: In September 2011, 1520 Sedgewick (AKA the “Birthplace of Hip Hop”) was saved! With tenant endorsement, Winn Residential and Workforce Housing Advisors purchased the building with an extensive rehab scope and permanent affordability plan to accompany the acquisition!

It was a busy year fighting for decent conditions and permanent affordability in New York City housing. UHAB organizers, tenants, and allies are still actively fighting to against over leveraging, bad conditions, negligent landlords, and against the banking industry’s bottom-line, top-dollar mentality. As Predatory Equity becomes a clearer and more understood trend,  we sincerely hope that our 2012 year in review will hold fewer lowlights and many more highlights as we continue to develop new tools to fight this rapacious phenomenon.

See you in 2012! We have a feeling it will be a great year!

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BronxInk: “Troubled Bronx buildings flipped again”

Dyan Kerr deals with a wall of mold in her Williamsbridge apartment. (STEVEN GRABOSKI/The Bronx Ink)

This is an excellent article by Bronx Ink that reflects what is happening today to this infamous Bronx building portfolio in their fourth round of speculation. Who is Anthony Gazivoda and why did he pay so much for these dilapidated buildings? We still don’t have all the answers, but the current state of affairs is definitely troubling…

With a single tap of the finger, mailboxes open at 1585 East 172nd Street in Soundview. It’s a trick anyone can pull off.

“Social Security and Section 8 checks have gone missing,” said Andres Rios, the leader of the building’s tenant’s association.

Broken mailboxes are just one problem facing Rios’ building, one of six notoriously distressed buildings in Highbridge, Morris Heights and Soundview. The buildings have been in disrepair since 2006, bouncing from owner to owner, each either without a plan to fix them or the money to carry the plans out.

The buildings were sold again in September, this time to Bronx real estate agent Anthony Gazivoda, for $21.4 million. Gazivoda paid almost $7 million more than the previous owner, a surprisingly high purchase price that has tenants and housing advocates afraid that the new owner will find himself just as cash-strapped as the previous ones.

“There is no financial story that justifies that sale,” said Dina Levy, executive director of the Urban Housing Assistance Board, the advocacy group that has been following the plight of the buildings. “You can twist it but you still can’t justify it. There’s no amount of rationalization that gets you to $21 million. That’s troubling.”

Anthony Gazivoda did not respond to numerous interview requests.

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The Bronx Ink: “Fire in Soundview building leaves tenants with holes in the walls”

1591 East 172 Street is one of six buildings that Anthony Gazivoda and his company Gazivoda Realty recently purchased from The Bluestone Group in September of 2011. As you probably know, the building was purchased for a whopping $21.4 million dollars. 

Last month, there was a fire in one of the buildings. What the story below shows is that there is a good chance the fire was caused by Gazivoda’s negligent maintenance crew in the building.

Engines 54 and 41 gathered up in front of 1591 E 172nd street to extinguish a fire that started in an apartment on the first floor.

Smoke overcame the odor of fresh paint as six apartments were damaged by a fire that started on the first floor of a five-story building in the Soundview section of the Bronx shortly after 3.30 p.m on Monday, October 17. No one was injured.The cause of the fire in the first floor apartment at 1591 East 172nd Street remained unknown about two hours after firefighters from the Engine 96, Ladder 54 put out the blaze. A fire department official said it may have been caused by maintenance error.

Read More Here