The Daily Dirt: How an RXR Realty project factors in an alleged mob scheme

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

New York /
Feb.February 14, 2020 01:23 PM
Larkin Plaza (Credit: Rendering courtesy of SLCE Architects)

Larkin Plaza (Credit: Rendering courtesy of SLCE Architects)

RXR Realty also had a project ensnared in that alleged mob scheme.

In December, an HFZ Capital Group executive was indicted on charges that he accepted bribes from the allegedly mob-controlled CWC Contracting. The indictment implicated at least four other construction and development companies, but court documents only explicitly identified HFZ’s XI project by the High Line.

But additional information included in court documents showed that RXR’s Larkin Complex in Yonkers was also involved in the alleged scheme. A project manager for the development allegedly accepted bribes in the form of free construction materials for his jiu-jitsu gym in White Plains. Court documents don’t identify this person by name, but a senior project manager at RXR Realty is also listed as a CEO of a Braxilian jiu-jitsu gym in White Plains. When reached by phone on Thursday, he indicated that he’s still working at RXR but declined to comment on the case.

A letter that prosecutors sent to a federal judge in December details phone conversations between alleged Gambino soldier Vincent Fiore and associate Benito DiZenzo, who are accused of bribing various companies in exchange for contracts and other perks for CWC. In one call intercepted by the government, Fiore appeared to be upset about the cost of the materials sent to the jiu jitsu gym, according to the letter.

Fiore allegedly instructed DiZenzo to document the materials sent to the gym “on a separate spreadsheet, not on the computer.” According to the letter, he also provided advice on how to navigate CWC’s online construction management system.

“I need you to write down every fuckin’ piece of material that we sent over there and I need to know the man hours that are over there,” he said, according to the letter. “Not on Procore [i.e., software used in the construction industry], but on the side. Alright?”

These real estate companies are pumped about the possible elimination of renter-paid broker fees.

While owners and brokers freaked out over the state’s ruling that landlords are responsible for paying their rental brokers’ fees, some startups were celebrating, E.B. Solomont and Eddie Small report.

In the past decade, several rental-focused proptech companies have emerged, seeking to go around or eliminate the need for brokers.

“It reinforces our business model and reinforces what we’ve thought about tenants not having to pay for it and having landlords cover those costs,” said Nicole Fishman, head broker at the real estate startup NestApple, which cuts a third off the price of the typical broker fee. “Real estate brokers in New York have not changed their business model for dozens of years, and it’s about time that things begin to change and get up to date to what consumers want.”

Still, companies that offer no-fee leasing could find demand for their services depleted if the state’s no-fee rule survives the ongoing court challenge.

“I don’t know,” Loftey founder Ori Golman said. “We might just shut down.”

Agents may have yet another reason for hoping the state’s rule doesn’t stick: StreetEasy may end up being the biggest winner of all.

What we’re thinking about: The one-year anniversary of Amazon’s abandonment of Long Island City is tomorrow. How will you be observing the day? Send a note to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Thursday was for a co-op unit at 714 Broadway in Noho, at $4.9 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for shopping centers at 1630 East 15th Street and 1715 East 13th Street in Midwood, at $165 million. Infinity Real Estate and Nightingale Properties are the sellers, and Urban Edge Properties is the buyer.

BREAKING GROUND

The largest new building filing of the day was for a 436,185-square-foot residential building at 1600 Macombs Road in Morris Heights. The Supportive Housing Network filed the permit application.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo at 78 Irving Place Gramercy Park, at $37.5 million. Former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann is the seller! Compass’ Nick Gavin has the listing. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

CNN Anchor Don Lemon and his fiancé, real estate broker Tim Malone, who are in the process of selling their apartment, went on their first date on election night 2016. Thank you to Erin Hudson for providing this tidbit.

Elsewhere in New York

— Citi Bike’s planned expansion into the Bronx is one step closer to reality, Gothamist reports. The Department of Transportation has revealed a draft map showing that the docks could spring up in Mott Haven, Port Morris and Melrose later this year.

— If you eat in front of reporters — and have a history of food-related flubs — they are likely to pick you apart. Such was the case Thursday when Mayor Bill de Blasio struggled with chopsticks in Flushing, the New York Post reports.

— This week, Untapped New York plugged a book released in November about faded signs and advertisements across the city. “Ghost Signs: Clues to Downtown New York’s Past,” documents the lingering “ghost signs” and what they reveal about our city’s history. What’s your favorite ghost sign? Gimbels? The American Book Bindery sign, perhaps?


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