Saturday, January 23, 2010

City's Takeover Partner iStar Lost Bet on Metro Homes Also

Excerpt from the NY Times -January 21, 2010 --

THE tallest, “Trumpiest” condominium in New Jersey — the 55-story Trump Plaza Jersey City — hit the market two years ago, just as economic forces aligned to hamper its success.

Dean S. Geibel, a managing partner of Metro Homes, then an exceedingly busy builder on the “Gold Coast,” had the Donald from across the river lend his name and label to an ambitious plan for two mammoth residential towers that were to become the tallest in the state. They would swagger on the Jersey skyline, luring luxury-level bargain-hunters from Manhattan and pied-à-terre seekers from all over the world; that was the plan.
But the plan changed. The second tower was put on “indefinite delay” as work on the first was still being completed.
Today the lone Trump building stands about half full, with 239 of its 443 units sold. Only a handful of sales have occurred in the year since the housing market and Wall Street meltdowns. And in August, after Metro Homes defaulted on payment of its construction loans, iStar Financial took over ownership of the building. It has since hired the real estate company Coalco to devise plans for a “relaunch.”
iStar has reportedly suffered widespread losses on real estate investments — another being an Asbury Park beachfront redevelopment project, whose master developer also defaulted on loan payments. The Roseland Property Company is now representing iStar’s interests in Asbury Park, working with officials to scale back and reconfigure redevelopment plans.

Asbury Radio: Metro stopped building its twin-story condo, Esperanza, on the former C-8 site two years ago, infuriating the city council when they learned he wasn't out of money but rather redirecting his resources to the JC project with Trump. The open rusting worksite, like its predecessor from the 80s, floods in rain and casts a pall over the waterfront.

It is unclear from this article, who owns Esperanza right now, Metro Homes or iStar. City residents are out of the loop since talks with the developers are held in private with iStar, Madison Marquette, the retail developer who now owns Wesley Grove condos as well, and two members of the city council: former mayor Kevin Sanders and former deputy mayor James Bruno. Meeting without a quorum of the council is done to avoid violating the Open Public Meetings Act, which forbids negotations between the city and contractors out of the public eye. The two coucilmembers then return to the council and share the discussion with the full council in private session.

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