Lennar: Cannot Finance Retail Scope Originally Planned for White Plains Pavilion Site. Raises number of Apartments to Over 800 Units in 2 tall thin wafer-like buildings. Council Receptive, Hunt-Robinson Says

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She’s long and she’s tall. Mix of rentals/condos considered at Maple Avenue former WP Pavilion site. Rendering shown in Common Council meeting Monday evening .

WPCNR COMMON  COUNCIL CHRONICLE-EXAMINER. By John F. Bailey. July 31, 2018.

Lennar Corporation told the White Plains Common Council Monday evening in a work session at City Hall, the company could not find financing sources willing to finance their original mixed use residential and retail concept of their White Plains Pavilion rebuild proposed in 2014, according to Councilwoman Nadine Hunt-Robinson.

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Hunt-Robinson told WPCNR, “They had a problem due to the amount of retail. We all know the problems brick-and-mortar retail is having at this time. They have added one third more open space, are building two narrower buildings, less massive,  and increasing the number of units to over 800. There is a possibility that some may be condominiums as well as rental units. Price points were not presented. It will be built in two phases, because financing sources like to see (as with 55 Bank Street which became half-rented shortly after opening),  evidence of viability.”

Hunt-Robinson said Lennar is now seeking financing  for this new design concept, and retail willingness to commit. She said if they complete the financing they could possibly begin construction in the spring of 2019.

Retail is not completely out of the project.

Hunt-Robinson explained WPCNR that restaurants are still in the mix. She said the buildings are conceived as being marketed to millennials and empty-nesters.

Children will probably accompany some millennial renters/buyers  and grandparent empty-nesters,  she said, and felt what the developer described as  “Experiential Retail” businesses like  Gymoboree might be possibilities for the slimmed down retail component

 

 

 

 

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3 Charged with Forced Posting Credit/Debit Card Fraud. Technique that overrides bank charge “denials.”

WPCNR FBI WIRE. Special to WPCNR from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. July 31, 2018:

Editor’s Note: This news report from the FBI gives another example of the way the pickpockets of the internet and the telephone scams are using technology to clean out bank accounts of the unsuspecting consumer across the country. It is another “wake-up call” to how the cashless society is creating windfalls for the sophisticated internet/phone scammer. As Woody Guthrie once wrote: “Some people rob you with a six-gun, others do it with a telephone call.:” The following report tells you exactly the flaws in how your credit card number is processed that makes it imperative you do not give credit card information of any kind over the telephone.)

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of a complaint charging three defendants with allegedly engaging in conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in a scheme known as “forced posting.”

Two defendants, LATOYA ROBINSON and DASHAWN JOHNSON, were arrested and presented last week before United States Magistrate Lisa Margaret Smith.  Defendant TANYA HATWOOD remains at large.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, the defendants took advantage of a security feature of the debit card processing system, which allowed for nearly $1 million in fraudulent merchandise charges.  Thanks to our federal and local law enforcement partners, the scam is over and the defendants face significant criminal charges.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “As technology continues to evolve, the complexity of fabricated schemes evolves almost faster than humans can keep up.  Nevertheless, the FBI remains committed to investigating fraud in its many facets. By allegedly using fictitious codes in the attempt to take more than $900,000 in merchandise, the defendants believed their scheme would go undetected.  However, now that the two defendants are facing federal charges today, it is clear that their misguided criminal behavior was wrong.”

As alleged in the Complaint unsealed in White Plains federal court[1]:

When a customer presents a debit card to purchase merchandise at a store and the card is swiped at an electronic card reader maintained by the merchant, electronic signals are routed from the merchant to the brand of the customer’s debit card, and then routed to the underlying bank that issued the debit card.  The bank then verifies whether the customer has sufficient funds in the account to cover the requested transaction, which is then relayed back to the merchant.  When there are insufficient funds on the debit card presented by the customer, the card reader will display a message that the transaction request was denied.  

Many card readers have a functionality, though, that allows someone to input a code that serves to take the card reader offline, overriding the denial message and verifying the transaction. 

Malign actors can take advantage of this functionality by inputting a fictitious code not provided by the issuing bank under the guise of entering a pin code or other authorization code, which could cause the card reader to show that the transaction was authorized.  

The merchant may then let the customer leave with any merchandise the customer attempted to purchase; the merchant would not learn that the code was fictitious and the transaction invalid until days or even months later.  

The process by which a customer could take advantage of the functionality is called “forced posting” or “forcing the off.”

Bank records, corroborated by interviews with more than 30 merchants, show that from 2013 up to May 2018, LATOYA ROBINSON, DASHAWN JOHNSON, and TANYA HATWOOD, together and separately, performed forced posting on dozens of occasions, and schemed to take or attempt to take more than $900,000 in merchandise in total. 

*                *                *

ROBINSON, 29, of the Bronx, JOHNSON, 25, of Manhattan, and HATWOOD, 27, of the Bronx, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.  Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.  The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, the Yonkers Police Department, the New York City Police Department, and the Nassau County Police Department.

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorney Samuel L. Raymond is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

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25 with Russian and Eastern European Roots WITH MASSIVE INTERNET WIRE FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING LOOTING THE UNWARY, the NAIVE, THE RICH THROUGH INTERNET ADS

WPCNR FBI WIRE. Special to WPCNR from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. July 31, 2018:

(Editor’s Note: Returning to the Great Northeast,and listening to NPR and Bloomburg at the few radio oases to be found driving up the great eastern seaboard, the themes I heard were how Facebook would recover from their present difficulties with failure to vet Facebook content.

Imagine my surprise when I received the FBI report below this morning. The arrests those pending made by the FBI detailed below show a glaring weakness of websites in general in vetting the credentials of their advertisers not just political posters. The internet is the wild west and it is out to get you. This single ring described below shows how sophisticated unscrupulous cyber criminals have taken advantage of the naivete of consumers in the United States, and the false security of financial institutions that process internet transactions. It is worth noting the nationalities of those charged.)

Co-Conspirators Posted Fake Advertisements for Cars, Tricking Victims Nationwide Into Wiring More Than $4.5 Million

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging Diyora Ashirova, Elvin Baghir-Pur, Kirill Dedusev, Roman Eliozashvili, Sarkhan Imamverdiyev, Mikheil Inadze, Aziza Jalolova, Elvin Javadzade, Igor Kalinitchev, a/k/a “Irvin Kalinitchev,” Tengiz Khukhiashvili, Yelena Kudaibergenova, Mishel Levinski, Stanislav Lisitskiy, a/k/a “Giedrius Girnius,” Aleksei Livadnyi, Durra Mehdiyeva, Mikhail Morozov, Ielyzaveta NAzina, Gocha Paposhvili, Matiss Puke, Ketevan Sepiashvili, Aleksandr Starikov, Igor Stasovskiy, Nikolay Tupikin, Karlis Vitols, and Melvut Yazici with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit concealment money laundering.

Editor’s Note: As the roster of those charged indicates below, 17 live in Brooklyn, 4 live in Los Angeles, 2 in Delray Beach (FL) and 2 in Moscow. 7 are described as Russian in nationality; 5 from Georgia(formerly a USSR satellite, 1 from the United States, 4 from Azerbaijan, 3 from Kazakhston, 2 from Latvia, 1 from Turkey.)

Eleven of the defendants were arrested on these charges July 24 in New York.  These defendants were presented and arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge James L. Cott in Manhattan federal court.  BAGHIR-PUR was arrested in Miami and will be there presented.  KHUKIASHVILI is in custody on state charges in Alachua County, Florida, and PUKE and VITOLS are in custody on state charges in Charlevoix County, Michigan.  All three will be transferred to federal custody.  DEDUSEV, ELIOZASHVILI, KUDAIBERGENOVA, LISITSKIY, LIVADNYI, MOROZOV, STARIKOV, and TUPIKIN remain at large.  The case has been assigned to United States District Judge George B. Daniels.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, the defendants participated in a nationwide scheme to defraud, duping victims who responded to fake internet advertisements designed to resemble advertisements posted by legitimate merchants.  Then the defendants allegedly created dozens of shell companies to receive victim payments and withdrew the funds and sent them out of the country.  Thanks to the hard work of the FBI, these defendants will now face prosecution.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Trusting that they were conducting legitimate business with automotive dealers, these victims lost over $4 million as a result of this scheme.  While allegedly operating under this façade, the defendants were diligent in the theft of the funds, but showed no regard to the financial impact on the victims. As shown by the charges brought today, the FBI will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to uncover duplicitous conspiracies, regardless of the vast intricacy of their cover-ups.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment and statements made during court proceedings in this matter[1]:

From November 2016 through July 2018, the defendants carried out a wide-ranging fraudulent scheme that typically involved impersonating legitimate sellers of cars, tricking victims into providing payment for those cars, withdrawing the funds from banks around the country using efforts designed to evade scrutiny, and wiring the proceeds outside the United States.

The fraud most commonly operated as follows: first, co-conspirators impersonated automotive dealers and collectors and claimed to be selling classic cars on various well-known internet auction and trading websites.  Victims responding to the ads were in fact corresponding with a fraud scheme participant.  After the victims and co-conspirators came to terms on a sale price, including down payment and shipping costs, victims were next directed to purported automotive transportation companies and were told that these companies would accept payment and transport the cars.  These companies were in fact shell corporations established by the conspiracy to help perpetrate the fraud, whose corporate bank accounts were established and controlled by the defendants, awaiting wired funds from the fraud’s victims.  After victims had wired payment, the defendants went to the banks to drain the victim’s funds, often starting the same day payment had been transmitted. 

The defendants would draw money from different bank branches in numerous withdrawals on the same day, in denominations that were varied and often kept to an amount they believed would prevent the financial institutions from recording and reporting the fraud. 

The co-conspirators then sent the fraud proceeds outside the United States to Eastern European countries, from where many of the conspirators originated.  Victims never received the goods they believed they had purchased, and many were unable to recover their money or were left paying loans for cars that were never truly for sale.  The defendants’ scheme defrauded victims of more than $4.5 million.

*                      *                      *

Each of the defendants is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge. The table below lists the name, age, nationality, and residence of each defendant.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, the New York Police Department, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations.

If you believe you were a victim of this crime, including a victim entitled to restitution, and you wish to provide information to law enforcement and/or receive notice of future developments in the case or additional information, please contact the Victim/Witness Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, at (866) 874-8900.  For additional information, go to: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nys/victimwitness.html.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey C. Coffman, Thane Rehn, and Matthew J.C. Hellman are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Name

Age

Nationality

Residence

ASHIROVA

27

Kazakhstan Brooklyn
BAGHIR-PUR

24

Azerbaijan Brooklyn
ELIOZASHVILI

44

Georgia Brooklyn
IMAMVERDIYEV

30

Azerbaijan Brooklyn
INADZE

37

Georgia Brooklyn
JALOLOVA

23

Kazakhstan Brooklyn
JAVAZADE

30

Azerbaijan Brooklyn
LEVINSKI

23

United States Brooklyn
KHUKIASHVILI

63

Georgia Brooklyn
KHUDAIBERGENOVA

48

Kazakhstan Brooklyn
KALINITCHEV

62

Ukraine Brooklyn
MEHDIYEVA

23

Azerbaijan Brooklyn
NAZINA

29

Ukraine Brooklyn
PAPOSHVILI

43

Georgia Brooklyn
SEPIASHVILI

64

Georgia Brooklyn
STASOVSKIY

58

Russia Brooklyn
YAZICI

36

Turkey Brooklyn
PUKE

31

Latvia Delray Beach, FL
VITOLS

29

Latvia Delray Beach, FL
DEDUSEV

29

Russia Los Angeles
LISITSKIY

30

Russia Los Angeles
LIVADNYI

39

Russia Los Angeles
TUPIKIN

32

Russia Los Angeles
MOROZOV

29

Russia Moscow
STARIKOV

34

Russia Moscow

[1]   As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

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Good Bye: The Fixer and Mr. Coverup Gets 7 Years.

WPCNR FBI WIRE. Special to WPCNR From the Federal Bureau of Investigation. July 31, 2018:

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced Friday that former New York State Assembly Speaker SHELDON SILVER was sentenced to seven years in prison after having been found guilty a second time by a federal jury of using his official position to obtain nearly $4 million in bribes in exchange for his official acts and obtaining another $1 million through laundering the proceeds of his crimes.

SILVER had previously been found guilty of the same offenses by a jury in November 2015, but the conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonnell v. United States.

SILVER was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who also presided over the two-week jury trial.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “When he assumed his powerful position at the top of New York State government, Sheldon Silver took an oath to do the work of the people.  Instead, he leveraged his tremendous influence to pad his bank account and line his pockets.  Sheldon Silver has been given a lengthy sentence of seven years in federal prison.

We hope today’s fittingly stiff sentence sends a clear message: brokering official favors for your personal benefit is illegal and will result in prison time.  I thank the career prosecutors of this Office for their perseverance in this important case for the people of New York.”

According to the evidence introduced at trial, court filings, and statements made in Manhattan federal court:

For more than two decades, SHELDON SILVER served as Speaker of the New York State Assembly, a position that gave him significant power over the operation of state government.

SILVER used this immense power – including, in particular, his power over the real estate industry and his control over certain health care funding – to unlawfully and corruptly enrich himself.

Among other things, SILVER unlawfully solicited and obtained client referrals worth millions of dollars in exchange for his official acts, and attempted to disguise this money as legitimate outside income earned from his work as a private lawyer.

In particular, SILVER claimed, on financial disclosure forms required to be filed with New York State and in public statements, that the millions of dollars he received in outside income while also serving as Speaker of the Assembly came from a Manhattan-based law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg P.C., where SILVER claimed to work representing individual clients in personal injury actions.

These claims were materially false and misleading – and made to cover up unlawful payments SILVER received due to his official power and influence as an elected legislator and the Speaker of the Assembly.

The schemes provided SILVER with two different streams of unlawful income: (i) approximately $700,000 in kickbacks SILVER received by steering two real estate developers with business before the state legislature to a law firm with which he was associated, and (ii) more than $3 million in asbestos client referral fees SILVER received by, among other official acts, awarding $500,000 in state grants to a university research center of a physician who referred patients made ill by asbestos to Weitz & Luxenberg.

Unlawful Income From a Real Estate Law Firm

SILVER, a lawyer, entered into a corrupt relationship with Jay Arthur Goldberg, P.C., later known as Goldberg & Iryami, P.C., which specialized in making applications to New York City to reduce taxes assessed on properties.

Beginning in at least approximately 2000, SILVER approached a prominent developer of residential properties in Manhattan, Glenwood Management Corp. (“Glenwood”), and later approached another developer, The Witkoff Group LLC (“Witkoff”), and asked them to hire Goldberg & Iryami.

The developers – both of whom lobbied SILVER and others on real estate issues because their businesses depended heavily on favorable state legislation – agreed to use Goldberg & Iryami as SILVER had requested.  Over the years, Witkoff and Glenwood paid millions of dollars in legal fees to Goldberg & Iryami.

SILVER received a cut from the legal fees amounting to nearly $700,000.  SILVER had no public affiliation with Goldberg & Iryami and performed no legal work to earn those fees, which were payments for SILVER having arranged the business through his official power and influence.

While continuing to receive the fees and in furtherance of the scheme, SILVER took official action beneficial to Glenwood and Witkoff.  For example, while SILVER was publicly associated with advocating for tenants, a proposal that benefitted Glenwood was in substantial part enacted in real estate legislation in 2011 with SILVER’s support.  SILVER also approved more than $1 billion dollars in state financing for Glenwood.

Unlawful Income From Asbestos Client Referrals

SILVER also entered into a corrupt arrangement with Dr. Robert Taub, who was a leading physician specializing in the treatment of asbestos-related diseases, through which SILVER issued state grants and otherwise used his official position to provide favors to Dr. Taub and his family so that Dr. Taub would refer and continue to refer his patients to SILVER at Weitz & Luxenberg, a firm with which SILVER was affiliated as counsel.  Specifically, SILVER arranged for New York State to fund two grants – each for $250,000, and paid out of a then-secret and un-itemized pool of funds controlled entirely by SILVER – for a research center Dr. Taub had established.  SILVER used his official position to provide Dr. Taub with other benefits as well, including helping to direct $25,000 in state funds to a not-for-profit organization for which one of Dr. Taub’s family members served on the board, and asking the CEO of a second not-for-profit to hire a second family member of Dr. Taub.

From approximately 2005 until his arrest, SILVER received more than $3 million from legal fees Weitz & Luxenberg received from patients Dr. Taub had referred to SILVER at the firm while SILVER was agreeing to and taking official actions to benefit Dr. Taub.  SILVER did no legal work whatsoever on these asbestos cases, his sole role having been to use his official position and access to state funds to induce Dr. Taub to provide him with these lucrative referrals.

Silver’s Efforts to Cover Up the Schemes

SILVER took various efforts to disguise his unlawful outside income and prevent the detection of his criminal schemes.  For years, SILVER listed on his official public disclosure forms that his outside income consisted of “limited practice of law in the principal subject area of personal injury claims on behalf of individual clients,” which was false and misleading.  Beginning in 2010, SILVER’s disclosures changed to state that the source of his legal income was a “Law Practice” that “includ[ed]” being of counsel to Weitz & Luxenberg.  SILVER never disclosed his relationship with Goldberg & Iryami or any work beyond what he claimed was a “personal injury” practice.

SILVER also repeatedly made false and misleading statements about his outside work and income in his public statements, including the following:

  • SILVER claimed he performed legal work consisting of spending several hours each week evaluating legal matters brought to him by potential clients and then referring cases that appeared to have merit to lawyers at Weitz & Luxenberg.  In fact, SILVER did no such work on the asbestos cases and obtained those referrals to Weitz & Luxenberg based on his corrupt arrangement with Dr. Taub.
  • SILVER claimed his law practice involved the representation of “plain, ordinary simple people.”  In fact, SILVER steered legal work to Goldberg & Iryami for some of the largest real estate developers in the state, for which favorable state legislation was critical to their business interests.
  • SILVER claimed through his spokesperson that SILVER principally found clients by virtue of his having been a “lawyer for more than 40 years,” in a manner that was “not unlike any other attorney in this state, anywhere.”  In fact, SILVER received money from referring his lucrative asbestos and real estate developer clients solely by virtue of his official position.
  • SILVER stated through his spokesperson that “[n]one of his clients have any business before the state.”  In fact, SILVER’s outside income included millions of dollars of fees obtained through Glenwood and Witkoff, both of which had significant business before the state, and Dr. Taub, to whose benefit SILVER provided state funding and other benefits related to SILVER’s official position.

In addition, SILVER attempted to thwart the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, by filing legal motions on behalf of the Assembly and taking other action to block the Moreland Commission’s investigation into legislators’ outside income.

Finally, SILVER laundered part of crime proceeds through private investment vehicles, not available to the public, which yielded him another $1 million in ill-gotten gains.

*                      *                      *

In addition to the prison sentence, SILVER, 74, of New York, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

SILVER was found guilty by a unanimous jury on May 11, 2018, of two counts of honest services wire fraud, two counts of honest services mail fraud, two counts of extortion under color of official right, and one count of engaging in illegal monetary transactions.

U.S. Attorney Berman praised the work of the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which jointly conducted this investigation.

This case was prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel C. Richenthal and Damian Williams are in charge of the prosecution.

 

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THE MARCH OF THE MILLENNIALS INTO WHITE PLAINS CANNOT BEGIN UNTIL THE NEW BUILDINGS ARE BUILT.

WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT. MID-YEAR REVIEW III. By John F. Bailey Updated 7/31 with WP Pavilion new design revelation:

Time is running out on The Millennial March the City of White Plains expects will lead to an end to the revenue blues the city has been experiencing since 2008.

In 2008 the city earned $45.5 Million in sales tax revenues. Ten years later at the close of business June 30, 2018, that important barometer has grown to $50.1 Million a gain of $500,000 over 2008 after 10 years of inflation of about 2% a year. That shows a very stagnant downtown business climate.

If the city just kept pace with inflation in their business transactions, they should have gained $9.1 Million in sales tax receipts by this year for a total of $59 Million in sales taxes, even without compounding.

In fact the city hit an all time high in sales taxes in 2013-14 of $51.9 Million, then slumped the last four years finally posting a gain to $50.1 Million ended June 30.

Let me clarify: If the city economy had kept pace the city should have taken in $59 Million this year based on inflation alone over a decade. But, it has not.

Now it is imperative that the four stalled apartment projects being counted on to bring in the millennial big spenders into White Plains have to start going up and pronto.

The second tower of 55 Bank Street is presumably soon to be started, but not the White Plains Mall rebuild. The apartments behind the Mamaroneck Avenue restaurants between East Post Road and Miller Place are supposedly starting, but I saw no evidence of it last week. What’s the delay?

The 52 North Broadway Good Counsel apartment complex may be finally approved shortly. That’s a good four years away and that’s being optimistic.

The White Plains Pavilion rebuild is stalled out for site plan revision. We do not have proposals yet for the city-owned properties adjacent the east side of the railroad. That whole thing is a good 6 years away at the present snail’s pace.

(Commentator’s  Update Note: on Monday evening, July 30, Lennar, the developer of the White Plains Pavillion site told the Common Council whey could not get financing for the project at its present level of retail. They presented a slim design of two buildings with 814 apartments, to be built in two phases, first one building then the other. Their plan is to pitch the new design of the project two restaurant on recreational retailers, gauge the interest, then get financing from sources. The expected start if all goes well and the city approves is Spring, 2019, with first one building being built then the next.)

The Requests for potential developers for the train station area owned by the city were sent out a year ago and they supposedly had some interest. We do not know who the firms are, and what proposals they may have sent the city.

These four projects have to start now, folks to give us those millennial hives by 2023! The slow pace is killing the city vision. What is behind this slow pace?

The city has to be wary of the sudden insurgence of New Rochelle that has 22 projects supposedly starting now.

The site plans for the city “visions” must be approved like now while the financing is available, if indeed it is.

As the developer Louis Cappelli once told me, “Now is the time to build, Mr. Bailey.”

Had the City Center and Ritz Carlton complex not been built in two years each, back to back, by Mr. Cappelli there would have been no Renaissance 14 years ago in White Plains.

Can the developers the city has tapped and customized zoning on request get their site plans together for swift approvals needed by the end of 2018?

It is a Common council responsibility to pay attention here and get the story of whether once again we have given approvals to developers unable to deliver in a timely manner.

The city future depends on the creation of these buildings the city assumed would be there to fulfill the Roach Administration dream of a Millennial Metropolis to bring the big spenders to town.

But they will not becoming to White Plains if New Rochelle’s “Age of Enlightenment” beckons first with buildings that are move-in ready in 4 years.

Time waits for no one and it won’t wait for White Plains or its developers of choice who are under pressure to deliver. Or should be put under pressure by the Common Council.

By the way the departure of Walmart is not going to help the city sales tax revenues the first of the year either. That is a blow. It has to be the busiest department store in White Plains, don’t you think?

 

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TRUMPLON: The Miracle Substance that Makes Them Forgive You, Believe You, No Matter What You Say or Do

WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT.  President Trump Mid-Term ReviewBy John F. Bailey. July 29, 2018:

Perhaps  no president has dominated the nation as Donald Trump has.

Trump performance and his  chilling growth in popularity was analyzed by White Plains’  Frank Bruni who explained why Mr. Trump holds on to his support while confounding his critics. Bruni wrote in The New York Times last week:

“the volume and velocity of his offenses turn them into a blur, just as the alarms we in the media sound become white noise. This was true during his (Trump’s)  campaign. It’s even truer of his presidency, and it’s one of the most unjust, infuriating aspects of his endurance. His shamelessness is actually his saving grace.”

It’s the John Wayne affect. “The Man with No Name” effect:  tough guy attitude. The Bogey toughness.

Americans  like toughness and that is Trump’s great appeal to all those driftin’ cowboys out there.

The key to Mr. Trump’s business success was to make promises to banks and organizations he was dealing with.  When things weren’t working out, he’d say there’s no way i can do that, and with the banks and organizations and individuals on the hook for money big time, — they, rather then take an asset loss on their balance sheets, carried him. Trump is doing that now, getting his way with the world.

That’s  how bullies win. They threaten. Let them intimidate you to save face, the tough guy wins.

This week was “Walk on. Walk off. Walk Back Week at the White House, soon to be known as Trump House.

Mr. Trump rejected criticism that he committed treason in praising Russia by rejecting the findings by the FBI and intelligence officials that Russia had interfered in the elections. He said he would meet with Vlad the Impaler in Washington, then on Thursday the White House said that meeting won’t take place until “the witchhunt is over.”

He imposed tariffs on China hurting the american soybean market then gave a $12 billion bailout to farmers who might be hurt. (I hope that does not go to corporate-owned farms.) He embarrassed England’s Teresa May for failing to go through with Brixit then agreed to discuss with the European Union suggestions for tariff compromise.

Are you, beginning after 19 months, to see a pattern here in Trumpism?

So it goes. Day in day out.  Outrage tempered and glossed over by an “aw shucks i did not mean it,” and the offense is groped over and we all breathe a sigh of relief. He plays us. He is not stupid. He is Machiavellian.

Criticism of the president slides off him. He is made of something better than teflon it’s ”Trumplon.”

As the president’s approval rating by Republican voters  and feckless Republican congressional members grows, and Trump’s  candidates continue to win in red states—the equally feckless democratic party is nowhere.

Democratic “leaders” keep flailing into the Trump Tarbaby and getting stuck. 

They look glassy eyed when trying to give reactions to the twist and turns, walk-outs, walk-backs and switcheroos of the Trumpster-In-Chief.

With three months to go before mid-terms, Democrats have failed to devise a dynamic message going into the midterms.

So late to the ball.

Where are the he-men democrats?

This lack of creativity ability to understand the Trump power to persuade and bring out the worst in people or feed the evil that lurks in Americans through his stream of demagoguery in 18 months has brought America to the brink of a dictatorship, strongman leadership.

It’s weighted to the rich, amoral industrialists who’d rather betray their country to bolster their stock prices, corrupt financiers and investment firms with constitution rights trampled by a feckless Supreme Court who will rule with the powerful every time.

There are no Judge Learned Hands today.

What is demagoguery? A demagogue and  demagoguery is defined as:

The central feature of the practice of demagoguery is persuasion by means of passion, shutting down reasoned deliberation and consideration of alternatives. Demagogues “pander to passion, prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance, rather than reason.” 

Do we recognize such a person like this today? Quick, anybody?

Mr. Trump is right in a league with Adolf Hitler  and Leni Riefenstahl  media mistress of the Hitler regime.

Mr. Trump just has more tools: Twitter, Fox News, his White House propaganda website, reporters underestimating him.

His success with his base, means that the midterms are not going to be pretty.

The Midterms are only 3 months away and the Democrats have nothing. No message. No hope. No candidates!

Only Democratic women are standing up and trying to turn the tide of Trumpism — Powered by Trumplon!

They have sadly, no Trumplonyte!

Because Trump has a plan and the Democrats don’t.

His plan is to take away the freedoms, the protection of the law and the courts  that once made America great .

He wants to make the powerful comfortable and the afflicted powerless, the poor poorer and the people who are not white out of the country.  His tactic: create enemies of the people and blame them for your unhappiness and failure to succeed.

He’s done a sobering, frightening job in 18 months. He’s going after first the press. Then congress then the courts, then your rights, then the military. That’s his plan.

This week, Kaitlin Collins of CNN acting as a pool reporter at a White House photo OP asked him four questions. They were not great or smart questions and would have been easy to answer with one word or two. He refused to answer them then had White House press officials prevent her from attending an open press meet and greet.

He would never have thrown a male reporter out. He threw her out because she was a woman.

Did the reporters, her colleagues  support her by not covering the meet and greet. Did the rest walk out?

It is a mystery to me why so many women support a man who oppresses women, embarrasses them, and supports mysogynists and enablers of sexual assault in his administration.

This substance “trumplon” and trumpism is the right stuff apparently. Perhaps all political leaders have it.

Because Americans seem to be suckers for it. This time, the country we know may never come back the way it was.

Democrats. Republicans. Pay attention.Do not be afraid. Take a stand.

Don’t just fundraise.

Go out and work.

 

 

 

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Annual “Controversial Approval Day” Coming Up.

WPCNR News and Comment. The Mid-Year Review  II Continued by John F. Bailey. July 28, 2018 UPDATED with CURRENT STATUS OF WINBROOK REBUILD, 7/31 IN BOLD and WHITE PLAINS PAVILION REVISION:

Coming up appropriately on August 6 this year is the White Plains Common Council “Annual Controversial Approval Day.”

The city seems to schedule important votes at Council meetings that are not too well attended. Like the night before Election Day. They did that last November.

It is the first week in August Beginning Wednesday. A time for citizens to beware of the foibles of the White Plains Common Council and the shrewd strategy of administrations.

A perfect time that current city administration has  observed  over the years, preserved and pointed to for years to decide crucial matters affecting the city.

It is the time when hearings on matters that have drrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggggggggggggggggggg onnnnnnnnnnnnn for years by seemingly calculated delay tactics on the part of the city and neighborhood associations, when neighborhood association collective ires are aroused against a project.

The first week in August, 2015, was the day the city vote to decide on the French American School of New York Ridgeway property was called. To everyone’s shock  the councilperson handpicked by the Mayor, voted No on the project much to the city’s chagrin and dragged the decision on for another three years now. 

The FASNY project has become The Flying Dutchman of White Plains development. It is still not decided and drifts ghost-like on the capricious high seas of the motion practice and court calendars.

The judge who has been charged with the decision to decide  the paper storm of legal challenges to the project has still not made a decision on  the current lawsuit by the Gedney protagonists, and when she does, that decision will be appealed.

Meanwhile the French American School of New York in the tradition of Beau Geste refuses to give up the fight to start building a project that time has perhaps  passed by.

It is now  approaching year eight this FASNY project has been dragging on. It’s resembling the Hatfield and McCoys feud. The Civil War that is still being fought today.

Is this simply a matter of French Honor at stake here?

Does the project make sense any longer in view of President Donald Trump’s New World Order?

Is the Board of the French American School of New York obsessed with progressing ahead?

Do they have the financing?

Is the design obsolete?

Will there be new safeguards built into the final decision by the court(s) whenever that happens that will protect further development in light of the Trump Administration “Anything Goes” business policy?

What is the court delay?

Where is the Common Council on this?

Does anyone know where and when the Common Council is ever allowed a say in city approvals and planning?

Development is like dating. If  the woman thinks you’re a jerk and says “no” the third time you ask for a date, buddy, it’s time to move on, not take on a vendetta against the woman.

While we wait for the molasses courts to make decisions on this, FASNY’s preoccupation with being right has perhaps clouded their judgment.

Consider this:

Since this project started, the city character has changed. It is not a pleasant downtown anymore. It’s not New York City, where chaos is  glamorous.

The downtown traffic has become a nightmare.

The bicycles are taking over.

The millennials have not come because the city’s designated developers have dragged on obtaining  financing. They cannot convince retailers to lease. They are reconfiguring their projects, or are trying to do that.

One building has been built (55 Bank Street), and it still only has one building of that complex open. The Winbrook housing project revitalization has taken 10 years to finish one building of 5. Now that’s incompetence, tolerated by the city administration. And actually a cavalier uncaring attitude towards the tenants.

(Commentator’s Update–Councilwoman Nadine Hunt-Robinson told WPCNR the contractor is currently selecting local workers to be subcontractors on the rebuild of Building 135 on the Winbrook site on South Lexington Avenue. She added that demolition of 135 should take place in the spring with work starting shortly thereafter. She added the building units will be offered to teachers, police, city workers at market rates, and to Winbrook residents. At market rates units will be at all levels of the building. This schedule may see the second building of Winbrook completed by fall of  2020, optimistically but that is a guess.)

Those people who live in that development have been waiting too long for new homes. A city disgrace worthy of a class action suit in the millions. But give Donald Trump Judge Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court will throw out any lawsuit like that.

There are 3 developments in White Plains approved but with site plans incomplete, how can that be?

The process of doing things in White Plains has become disorganized, too trusting of developers and inertia-delayed.

No one can make a decision because the approvals are flawed—sloppy, not specific, and most importantly, no financial penalty attached to the developer for failure to perform in a timely manner. Of course no developer would sign an agreement to be accountable.

And another quiet approval in the heat of August of another controversial project may come up August 6.

On August 6, the Common Council will continue the hearing on the 52 North Broadway LLC 800-apartment complex the organization wishes to build on the Good Counsel project that has been contested by the neighbors around that for its density, the traffic it will create and an environmental issue.

It is August. People are away. What better time to close the hearing and take a vote?

Again the possibility of a vote unpopular with the persons in the neighborhood being held at a council meeting that is not high profile. It is amazing how votes are taken on projects in July and August, on pre election nights.

I suggest the city going forward should stop holding key votes in the summer. It is not fair, and the Common Council should pay a lot closer attention to those three projects: The White Plains Mall, the White Plains Pavilion (Lennar the developer of that introduced a new design Monday evening, July 30, cutting back the retail, because they could get financiers interested in the first design) and the  Mamaroneck Avenue-East Post Road residences, that is said to also be started by Lennar shortly.

You’ve approved them. Hold the developers accountable to do what they said they would do.

Get them started. You are already two years away on the second building in the 55 Bank Street project. Four years away on the White Plains Mall redo. You do not even have a complete site plan yet. Perhaps 5 years away on the White Plains Pavilion “Hole in the Ground” which has been a hold for a year now.

The Council has to stop picking up pay checks and open their mouths and kick the city administration into gear to get some answers from these developers we trust implicitly apparently.

Time waits for no one, and your market is looking elsewhere.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

The Walmart Walk. LENNAR Repositions thinking.

WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT–THE MIDYEAR REVIEW. By John F. Bailey. July 26, 2018 UPDATED 7/31 With News of WP Pavilion new design of their buildings raising questions:

Walmart told City Hall Tuesday they were not staying in White Plains and would close  August 10.

This is not good. The reasons that Walmart said publicly in previous published reports  originally were financial performance in the Main Street location and the desire to expand its footprint and the need for outdoor parking.

On Thursday afternoon, Phillip Keene, Walmart Corporate Spokesman issued WPCNR this statement when asked if any issues with the landlord prompted their departure after 12 years, and whether the company’s was up. Here is that statement:

“We have no unresolved issues with the landlord of the site.
 
Our lease expires in a few years. As we’ve stated, this tough decision was based on financial performance among other factors.
 
While we are always looking for ways to better serve our customers, we are not pursuing or planning a relocation of this store.”
 
Phillip Keene
Walmart Spokesperson
There has been no indication from the county or its many business organizations that they are racing to give Walmart a site. Yonkers springs to mind what with big time gambling coming to Empire City. If there is any property nearby that would be good, maybe.

Mayor Roach doesn’t seem to think there’s a problem filling the Walmart vacancy – if the building measures up to a top notch retailer’s qualifications.

The Mayor said:

 Nationwide the retail landscape is shifting rapidly and dramatically.  Fortunately, we have worked hard to reposition the city by bringing more residential and corporate presence into the downtown.  The building is a 50 year old former Sears store in the heart of downtown.  Anyone familiar with the real estate market in White Plains will realize that there will be no shortage of proposals for the site, which will better fit the demand in the downtown. 

I received the call from Walmart at 9:15 this (Tuesday) morning advising of their decision.  My immediate concern is for the workers who are losing their jobs.  

We have a very low unemployment rate in White Plains but this may also be an opportunity for those who wish to change their career path.  I contacted our Education Training Center, which is an innovative program that trains people for jobs where there is a shortage of qualified people, for example health care, culinary, and hospitality to name a few.  The ETC is willing to work with Walmart;  I conveyed this information to Walmart and we look forward to working with them to make this a reality. 

So ended the Mayor’s statement. But here’s the foreshadowing indicated by Walmart’s forthright statement.

However—White Plains is in a state of perpetual change.

If retail is in such flux, as the Mayor says, how can the many mixed use projects (the city has approved) attract the number of retailers/restaurants/services that will make the millennials being sought happy in the new apartments that are now in the way too distant future.

(Commentator’s Note: One week after Walmart walked out of White Plains, Lennar, developers of the White Plains Pavilion rebuild, announced to the Common Council, they could not get financing for the level retail they had envision for the project. Well, if Lennar, the number 2 home builder in the country can’t get retail or financiers to bite. Every project the city has right now is in big trouble. Every one includes retail to drive revenues for the city. The concept appears shattered.)

As Jim Benerofe has long said on the White Plains Week program, retail has been overbuilt in this country.

The sagging results in this county since the “recovery” began four years ago, show that. How long have we been in the money anyway?

Walmart departing is the judgment of a retailer who has been in that location 12 years through a bad recession. And now they move out? How bad are their financials there?

Now there is a big time retail drought for this new White Plains fiscal year right there.

Hopefully Sears will not depart the Galleria. Frankly I do not see how Sears survives on the sparse traffic that store generates in The Galleria. But they must know what they are doing.

But the more you watch corporate decisions, the more it seems that  they react too late to trends.  They keep wishing for the past. T

The more you watch city planners everywhere the more you get the feeling that they lack vision today and spot zone their cities. They  Suggest cookie cutter development after cookie cutter development. Like the proliferation of shopping malls in the 1960s and 70s. Like corporate parks along Westchester Avenue which have died.

In White Plains we are watching Metro North redo the train station with interior cosmetics, supposedly to give millennials our target lure amenities as part of their commute.

Metro North is not thinking big, and White Plains has not the spine to tell  them they have to think big. That train station could be something like the Union Station in Washington, D.C., the Richmond Station in Richmond Virginia or even Grand Central with all it’s restaurants.

The present station in White Plains is simply a glamorized elevated subway stop.

It needs something in it that generates revenue for the city—a hotel a convention center—maybe they cannot build it on the geography there, but no one has said that. It is a project conceived in the dark despite the city propaganda about it. Wi-fi in a railroad station is no reason to go to someplace to live.

The city has not yet revealed any responses for its request for proposals for its city owned lots on the east side of the train station, either. Probably more apartments filled with restaurants and open space.

But if you were a retailer would you commit and lease to go in there before the apartments were filled up? I don’t think so. That’s why the delay in this whole downtown transit district with its various makeovers could be years in the making, at least 10 years and the present snail’s pace on site plans and construction.

If Walmart walks, why would anyone come in to take that space?

Of course it would make a great place for a new city hall that property if the city bought it and the old City Hall could be turned into another luxury building with retail on the bottom. What vision.

You, too can be a planner.

Demographics, planners, please!

 

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WHITE PLAINS WEEK THE FRIDAY JUL 27 SHOW JULY 27 ON THE INTERNET WHITE PLAINS WEEK DOT COM AND YOUTUBE NOW

2015710WPW 037

WHITE PLAINS WEEK

THE FRIDAY NIGHT JULY 27 SHOW

AND ON THE INTERNET AT

Youtube:

 
 
 
whiteplainsweek.com link is
 

www.wpcommunitymedia.org

THIS WEEK

WALMART DEPARTS WHITE PLAINS FOR GOOD.

OVO BIKES PEDALS OUT OF TOWN

EXCLUSIVE! NEW IRS SCAM AND MICROSOFT SCAMS ON YOUR PHONE! BEWARE!

ANALYSIS OF THE WHITE PLAINS TRANSIT DISTRICT AT MIDYEAR. 

5 WEEKS TO SCHOOL STARTS–A RETIRED NYC TEACHER ON WHY COMMON CORE FAILED AND WHAT HAS TO CHANGE TO IMPROVE EDUCATION–EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW.

NATIONAL WALK OUT, WALK BACK WEEK FOR THE PRESIDENT

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WESTCHESTER DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE: REPORT IRS SUSPECTED SCAMS TO THE IRS DIRECTLY ON THE LINK IN THIS ARTICLE:

WPCNR TELEPHONEY. By John F. Bailey. July 26, 2018:

Monday of this week, WPCNR reported an automated recorded IRS scam attempt which informed the number it was calling an arrest warrant had been issued in your name.

Helen Jonsen, Public Information Officer for the Westchester District Attorney office, told WPCNR,  residents should advise the Internal Revenue Service of suspected “scams” by reporting them to the IRS on the link below. Jonsen in a statement wrote WPCNR

“Since these call are not local in nature, we refer individuals to this contact with the Treasury

https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml

The message WPCNR received said in a recorded phone call:

“MONDAY 2:25 PM…HELLO  THIS  CALL IS OFFICIALLY THE  FINAL NOTICE FROM IRS, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE .

THE  REASON FOR THIS CALL IS TO INFORM YOU THAT IRS IS FILING A LAWSUIT ON YOUR NAME  BECAUSE YOU HAVE TRIED TO DO A FRAUD WITH THE IRS, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE,  AND WE ARE TAKING OVER COLLECTION  AND WE ARE FILING AN ARREST WARRANT ON YOUR NAME   

TO GET MORE INFROMATION REGARDING THIS CASE FILE  JUST CALL US BACK ON OUR DEPARTMENT NUMBER. 219-401-5583.I WILL REPEAT IT, 219-401-5583. THANK YOU.”

WPCNR has learned that local residents have been getting similar calls frequently since WPCNR received it.

 

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