Chris Jones, a partner of the Bauhouse Group development company that lost control of an East Side development site last year, has fled the country, after a New York court ordered him and two other principals to pay over $24 million to creditor Gamma Real Estate.
Jones was subpoenaed in May to produce all documents related to his current real estate holdings and other documents demonstrating his current financial position.
But Jones wrote back to the court earlier this month saying that he “no longer reside[d] in the United States” and did not receive the subpoena papers. Furthermore, he couldn’t afford legal representation anyway, he claimed.
Jones, a U.K. citizen, said in a letter to the judge that he is now living in Spain but would like to communicate via email. “Under the circumstances, I hope you will agree that I am not trying to avoid this matter,” Jones wrote.
Bauhouse Group, led by Joseph Beninati, had personally guaranteed high-interest loans from its lender Gamma Real Estate. Gamma took over the development site at 3 Sutton Place following a legal battle with Beninati, who had declared bankruptcy to prevent Gamma from foreclosing on him.
Gamma has since filed plans for an 125-unit project at the Sutton Place site, though there’s a good chance it does not develop the site. Community activists and local politicians have been pushing for a moratorium on all development over 260 feet in the neighborhood.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the number of apartments Gamma wants to construct at 3 Sutton Place.