CW Realty to bring mixed-use project to troubled Williamsburg site

Several legal actions and two failed hotel projects have been associated with the site

Nov.November 13, 2019 08:15 AM
A rendering of  280 Meeker Avenue CW Realty Management CEO Cheskie Weisz (CW Realty Management)

A rendering of  280 Meeker Avenue CW Realty Management CEO Cheskie Weisz (CW Realty Management)

Third time’s a charm?

Cheskie Weisz’s CW Realty Management is bringing an eight-story mixed-use complex to a Williamsburg site that had seen plans for two hotels fall through.

The project, to be built at 280 Meeker Avenue, near Lorimer and Withers streets, will span nearly 51,000 square feet and house 69 apartments, according to an application with the Department of Buildings. There also will be space for parking and a community facility.

Weisz’s firm entered a contract to acquire the development site from Synapse Development Group in 2018. Matt Katz, CW’s director of development, said the firm plans to close on the purchase next month but declined to say for how much.

Synapse CEO Justin Palmer also declined to state the price but said the deal is a long-term ground lease that covers four parcels there. He said he and his partners took over five parcels on the block in 2013 for $9 million. (Synapse is keeping the remaining parcel, which holds a single-story building at 646 Lorimer Street that Synapse is looking to lease, Palmer said.)

The site has had its fair share of legal issues tied to two unfulfilled hotel developments over the past decade.

Before Synapse entered the picture, Frank Santora of Ace Hotels Holding filed an application in 2008 to construct a six-story hotel on the property, according to the DOB.

Ace provided two loans, each valued at $800,000, to Vidu Brothers Corp. in connection with Ace transferring partial ownership interest in one lot at the site to Vidu. A few days before the notes matured, Ace assigned the loans to Crotona 1967 Corp., which had previously owned the lot and neighboring parcels.

Crotona filed a federal lawsuit in 2009 against Vidu for not paying the loans. The case was dismissed four years later and Crotona went back to owning the lot with Ace.

That’s when Synapse and its partners took over the site from Crotona and Ace — and they too weren’t immune to infighting.

In March 2015, Synapse and partner Pan Brothers Capital Management Group were sued by another partner on the site, Thomas Bencivengo, for allegedly not selling membership interests of a company involved in the complicated joint venture that owned the property. The case was settled soon after, Palmer said.

Then, real estate investor Dovi Lesches in September of that year filed another lawsuit against the property owners, alleging that the defendants sold off his stake in the site without his consent. The plan at the time was to build a 14-story, 110-room Yotel Williamsburg there.

Lesches dropped the case against all the parties except the Pan Brothers, who last year agreed to suspend litigation because the property was on the way to being sold. The case remains active.

Palmer said the partners opted to nix the plans for the hotel and try to sell the assemblage when they added air rights to it.

And though Santora’s vision for a hotel at the site fell through, he wasn’t done with the property.

Last year he, too, filed a complaint against Synapse. Santora claimed that for helping Synapse acquire a lot in the assemblage, Synapse allegedly owed him a finder’s fee or 5 percent interest in the purchasing entity. That case, too, was settled, Palmer said.

The other parties in these cases either didn’t reply to requests for comment or couldn’t be reached.

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