Glen Fishman, May 20, 2009
Dan broke the story today about the sale of The Monarch's unsold units and raises some questions about the consequences.
I had been chasing that story myself, as best I could under my current circumstances. In fact, I was in the tax assessor's office just days ago to check whether the sale was posted in the big tax book on the counter. The name I had was LGP Plainfield LLC. There was no change indicated, but staff in the Assessor's office had been on vacation when I first asked and catching up after sick leave when I asked last week.
City officials in this administration and the past one have wrangled with Dornoch over condo fees as well as a disputed amount that Dornoch claimed the city owed for fit-out of the Senior Center. Is that matter resolved? As I recall, Corporation Counsel Vernita Sias-Hill received authorization from the governing body recently to negotiate a settlement.
I learned that all back taxes and liens on the unsold condos were paid off recently by a company called Virgo Municipal Finance Fund LP of New York and that tenants had received a letter to that effect, talking about foreclosure, even though tenants are not liable for back taxes. My last check of the tax book a month or so ago revealed 22 condos owned privately and 41 still owned by Dornoch.
One owner told me earlier this year that he and several others were dismayed by the situation and were trying to sell and leave Plainfield altogether. Among owners' complaints, tenants allow dogs to roam and relieve themselves in the hallways, the common areas are not kept clean, they feel misled in buying and the condo association is a cumbersome mix of private owners, the city and the owner of the unsold condos.
How did this all begin? At a time when Dornoch was pulling out of projects in other towns, former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs made the senior center a key re-election campaign promise in 2009. The May event at which developer Glen Fishman was caught looking so pensive was a pre-primary whoop-de-do with a parade of dignitaries assembling at the center on a one-day temporary certificate of occupancy. Robinson-Briggs won the June 2009 primary, defeating then-Councilman Adrian Mapp by a margin remarkable to local conspiracy theorists as nearly the exact number won by a perceived "spoiler" candidate.
Only gradually did the "promise made, promise kept" rhetoric prove to be somewhat false. But it did the trick, giving Robinson-Briggs four more years in charge.
FYI - On Plainfield Plaintalker and its successor, Plaintalker II there exists a full archive of posts on Dornoch and The Monarch. Put a search term in the box at upper left to search either blog.