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What’s Judge Jill Pryor and Donald Trump Got in Common? Tax Deduction Problems

The conservancy typically focuses on areas with a public use such as parks or trails. The driving range is just a part of Trump’s business.



How Trump scored a big tax break for conserving a golf range

APR 30, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAY 2, 2021

When Donald Trump bought his seaside golf course in a wealthy Los Angeles suburb in 2002, he vowed to surround it with “some of the most beautiful houses in California.” But the 261-acre property on the Palos Verdes Peninsula had a problem.

Geologists working for the city would not clear part of it for home-building because of unstable soil underlying the course, built on a landslide-prone bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The denials infuriated Trump, who lobbied and litigated for eight years in a failed effort to reverse the geologists’ findings and secure development approvals, according to interviews with planners and geologists and a Reuters review of public records and court filings.

Trump eventually abandoned a plan to build 16 homes and turned instead to the tax code to offset the lost profits – securing a $25 million tax deduction in exchange for a promise not to develop the land. The agreement with a nonprofit conservancy allowed him to continue using the land as a driving range for the Trump National Golf Course.

That 2014 agreement, known as a conservation easement, is now one focus of a broader investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James into whether Trump improperly manipulated real-estate values for tax and other economic benefits, court records filed by her office show.

“Information regarding the valuation of Trump Golf LA is significant to the Attorney General’s investigation,”

the office said in a filing.

The attorney general is also investigating a $21.1 million tax deduction claimed on Trump’s Seven Springs estate in New York through another conservation easement.

The office declined to comment on its investigations into the easements.

An attorney for the Trump Organization, Jill Martin – who worked on the California easement and whose office is on the golf course – declined to comment. Other lawyers representing Trump and his business did not respond to requests for comment.

Conservation easements are usually agreements between property owners and nonprofit organizations dedicated to preserving open space. In return for foregoing development rights, property owners can take a charitable tax deduction based on a real-estate appraiser’s estimate of lost value. The agreements are under growing scrutiny by tax authorities and Congress members who contend wealthy developers often get huge tax breaks for easements providing little public benefit. The Internal Revenue Service has been particularly skeptical of values of easements on golf courses.

Some tax specialists questioned whether Trump could have earned $25 million from developing the seaside land because he hadn’t been able to win approvals despite years of trying. Even if he could get those approvals, Trump would have faced a costly investment in engineering to stabilize home foundations on the shifting soils, raising questions about the value of the land and its development potential, according to local officials, geologic consultants and tax specialists.

Trump’s troubled effort to develop the land, and its continued use as part of his golf business, also casts doubt on the public benefit of protecting it.

“What conservation value is there in an urban golf range that can’t be developed anyway because of foundational problems?”

said Steve Rosenthal, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center in Washington.

Trump made his easement agreement, for 11.5 acres, with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy. Allen Franz, a longtime conservancy board member and former president, acknowledged in an interview that the easement had little public value compared to most of the organization’s agreements.

The conservancy typically focuses on areas with a public use such as parks or hiking trails. The driving range, by contrast, was just a part of Trump’s business.

“It doesn’t do us a whole lot of good to have a conservation easement over a driving range,”

Franz said.

The conservancy and some local residents did value preventing home construction there, however, in part because they believed homes on the site would obstruct the area’s ocean views. Franz said the conservancy had “no role in assigning any value” to Trump’s driving range easement, which is typical in such conservation agreements.


Pinpointing the value of Trump’s lost development rights is a central challenge facing the New York investigators in proving that Trump took an improper or inflated tax deduction.

That may not be easy, and hinges on the question of whether a builder could have profited from development despite the lack of approvals and the engineering costs.

Developers and engineers said builders sometimes do spend large sums on engineering to stabilize land for construction on high-value oceanfront lots.

Before making the easement agreement, Trump continued to insist he could build on the land despite the unstable soil and his struggles to win local approvals.

“It would be worth at least that,” said Scott Wellman, a lawyer who represented Trump in his fight against the city, of the $25 million deduction.

Yet Trump himself valued a parcel covering most of the driving range at just $900,000 in a 2013 property tax appeal, just a year before signing the conservation agreement, Los Angeles County assessment records show.

Trump was seeking to lower his taxes after a county assessor pegged the value at $1.1 million.

Trump has a history of assigning widely varying values to the course.

An attorney general’s legal filing shows that Trump’s appraisers on the conservation easement assigned a value of $107 million to the entire property in December of 2014, including the driving range.

In 2005, the Trump organization valued the property at $360 million in a financial statement, according to testimony in a defamation lawsuit filed by Trump that involved his claims about his wealth.

Appraisals to support Trump’s tax breaks for the California and New York easements were done by the firm of Cushman & Wakefield Plc.

Cushman did not respond to requests for comment on how it arrived at the $25 million figure.

Trump, his appraiser and the conservancy declined to disclose the appraisal to Reuters.

Lots around the course that can be developed have proven to be valuable.

Trump sold more than 25 vacant lots bordering the course from 2007 through 2019, for a total of $48.2 million, with a median price of about $1.6 million each, according to property records.


The Trump National course is in a spectacular spot, perched on cliffs overlooking Catalina Island.

But unlike Trump’s ultra-exclusive golf resorts in Palm Beach and New York – where membership fees can be hundreds of thousands of dollars – he was required to keep Trump National open to the public by the California Coastal Commission, as part of a deal that the previous owners made with local residents to maintain open space.

To boost profits, Trump sought to develop expensive homes around the course. The previous developers had drawn up plans for 75 houses on its borders.

The risk of unstable soils was apparent when Trump bought the course in 2002.

When another developer was close to opening the course in 1999, most of the 18th hole and parts of the 9th and 12th holes collapsed, trapping a man and his dog, who were rescued by helicopter.

The owners then tried but failed to run it as a 15-hole course.

Three years later, after the owners declared bankruptcy, Trump bought it from banking giant Credit Suisse at the bargain price of $27 million.

The landslide raised doubts among local officials that Trump could safely develop the area.

The city of Rancho Palos Verdes began extensive geological tests. Although the developers who sold to Trump blamed a leaky sewer pipe for the 1999 collapse, the city’s geologists believed the main culprit was a thin layer of slippery volcanic ash called bentonite that ran under parts of the property, according to interviews and city documents.

“We wanted to make damn sure that anybody who thought about building a house with conventional foundations wouldn’t have to worry about the house sliding into the ocean,” said Bill Cotton, one of the city’s consulting geologists.


Trump’s history as owner of the Los Angeles golf course is a study in the hardball tactics that became a hallmark of his business career and White House tenure.

When he ran into resistance in the secluded seaside enclave, Trump repeatedly tried to bulldoze his way through obstacles with threats, insults and legal actions.

In 2003, he sued the local school board in a dispute over the rent he owed for a piece of land he needed for the course; the school board prevailed.

To block the view of some neighboring homes he didn’t like, Trump planted a row of trees without city permission.

In 2006, he erected a giant 70-foot flagpole without a permit.

When city officials objected, he accused them of being against the American flag.

“Councilman Stern doesn’t want to take down a flagpole, he wants to take down the American flag,” Trump wrote in a letter to the city manager, speaking of then-Councilman Doug Stern. “He should be ashamed of himself!”

The public browbeating was typical of Trump’s style, Stern said in an interview.

“All he did was bully us or try to,” he said. “If there are two ways to do something to accomplish a goal, there’s no thrill in doing it the right way. He always did it the wrong way.”

Trump did build some homes on land the city judged safe for development, and he sold other lots. But 39 home lots in one section of the property remained in development limbo, as the geology studies and disputes continued.

In 2005, when Trump needed to build a driving range before hosting a professional golf tournament, Stern said he proposed a solution.

“We told him: You can put a driving range in the area where you have questionable geology,” Stern said.

In June of 2005, a Trump executive came to a city hearing and agreed with city officials to get rid of 16 of the 39 lots under review and to instead use that land for the driving range.

“Giving up 16 lots is quite a bit of real-estate,” said Vincent Stellio, who then was Trump’s director of golf course development, at the hearing. He told city officials and neighbors opposing the development that giving up the housing sites was the best way to resolve the disputes.


Despite that agreement, Trump kept trying to win city approvals to build homes on that land.

As the geology studies continued, Trump began leaning on local officials and the geologists who continued to find safety problems on the driving range site that stymied Trump’s development plans.

In June 2007, Trump called the Rancho Palos Verdes city manager and threatened to sue, according to minutes of a city meeting. Cotton, one of the geologists the city consulted, told Reuters that Trump also called him at his office twice with legal threats.

“First thing he says to me: ‘I’m looking at these lawsuits. We’re going to sue you and sue your company,’” Cotton said.

Cotton asked for time to review his files. Trump called him the next day, letting him know first that he was in a limousine on his way to film his reality television show, “The Apprentice.”

“Look, I can’t do anything,” Cotton recalled telling Trump when he called him back. “The ball’s in your court.”

“I’m going to sue you guys then,” Trump shot back, according to Cotton.

Trump’s lawsuit against the city, filed in December 2008, claimed he was being unfairly denied permission to build the 16 homes, among other projects, and that he was being held to a higher standard than other developers. As promised, Trump’s suit also named Cotton and two other geologists individually as defendants, alleging that they were trying to squeeze him to spend more money on unnecessary geological studies after he had already spent $3 million.

Steve Wolowitz, another council member at the time, told Reuters that Trump also called him at his home and office a “half dozen” times to pressure him before Wolowitz finally got fed up with Trump’s insults and told him to quit calling.

As the lawsuit dragged on, Stern wrote a memo to the city manager and his fellow council members in 2010 urging them not to settle the case because Trump could not be trusted to abide by any commitments he might make.

“What amazes me is that we seem to ignore the reality of what and who we are dealing with, acting like he thinks and behaves like an ethical person,” Stern wrote in a memo reviewed by Reuters. “Why do we now expect him to live up to his word, when he does not do that?”


Federal and state judges ruled against Trump during the long case, saying there was no evidence the city was being unfair. After four years of litigation, a new group of council members agreed to settle the lawsuit.

The city granted Trump’s request to rename a street at the golf course Trump National Drive. Other details of the settlement were subject to a confidentiality agreement. But Trump received no money, said the mayor at the time, Anthony Misetich, who added that the city’s relations with Trump improved after the settlement.

“My philosophy was, we were fortunate to have Donald Trump,” Misetich said in an interview, because Trump invested heavily to make the golf course “a beautiful property.”

By then, geologists had concluded in an August 2012 city report that the driving range could only be developed if Trump conducted a massive stabilization project by sinking 104 “shear pins,” which are vertical shafts reinforced with concrete. That reinforcement work would likely require supports running 50 to 60 feet deep, with costs well into the millions, according to southern California construction engineers and geologists.

Trump also faced a steep political challenge in restoring the housing lots – lots that he had agreed to give up when he sought city permission to use the land as a driving range. He would have to start over in applying to subdivide the property for homes, and then, separately, he would have to apply for permission to build on the unstable soil, the 2012 report said.

That process would likely have dragged on for years and drawn fierce opposition from community groups, said current and former officials from the city and the state coastal commission.

In the end, Trump never did the pricey stabilization work, and never applied to reinstate the building lots.

He chose instead to use the easement to get the $25 million tax deduction that is now under investigation.

In a letter memorializing the easement, the conservancy’s board thanked Trump, calling his donation “generous.” Trump also agreed to give a total of $70,000 to the nonprofit.

The land will be primarily used by golfers – Trump’s paying customers. Still, the letter, signed by the conservancy’s board president, hailed Trump for preserving the property “so that the public may use it for recreational purposes and enjoy its breathtaking views for years to come.”


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When the World’s Bankers and Governments Are Behavin’ Like Thieves and Criminals, It Really Is Time to Object, Vociferously

The appalling greed and corruption is playing out live since 2008 and without any accountability to the people. One Percenters are completely immune and laughing At You.



Ukrainian who made appearance in Trump impeachment saga accused by U.S. of stealing, laundering billions

AUG 6, 2020 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAY 17, 2022

The Justice Department on Thursday accused a Ukrainian oligarch who has been considered an ally of Ukraine’s president of stealing billions of dollars from a bank he once owned, then using a vast array of companies to launder that money in the United States and all over the world.

In a civil forfeiture complaint seeking to seize commercial properties in Kentucky and Texas, the Justice Department alleged that Ihor Kolomoisky and his business partner, Gennadiy Boholiubov, stole so much from PrivatBank that Ukraine’s national bank had to give the institution a $5.5 billion bailout “to stave off economic crisis for the whole country.”

Kolomoisky, one of Ukraine’s richest men, has ties to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and he played a role in the events that led to President Trump’s impeachment last year. He made a fortune in the rough-and-tumble capitalism that swept Ukraine after the Soviet Union’s collapse, amassing assets including airlines and financial institutions, and created a larger-than-life image for himself, going by the nickname “Benya,” and keeping a shark aquarium in his office.

Kolomoisky and Boholiubov were the two major owners of PrivatBank before it was nationalized in response to the fraud, the Justice Department said, and the men basically used it as a personal account to build a business empire in the United States. They requested money from PrivatBank — which they always received because they were owners — then moved the funds through a network of companies to “thoroughly disguise their nature, source, ownership, and control,” the Justice Department alleged.

Experts have expressed increasing concern that U.S. real estate — including factories and facilities important to American industry — has become a magnet for foreign money, including proceeds of criminal activities abroad. Among Kolomoisky’s and Boholiubov’s purchases were more than 5 million square feet of commercial real estate in Ohio; steel plants in Kentucky, West Virginia and Michigan; a cellphone manufacturing plant in Illinois; and commercial real estate in Texas, the Justice Department alleged. The forfeiture complaints sought to seize a roughly 19.5-acre office park in Dallas and the PNC Plaza building in Louisville.

Michael J. Sullivan, a lawyer for Kolomoisky, said in an email: “Mr. Kolomoisky emphatically denies the allegations in the complaints filed by the Department of Justice.” The allegations, which are not criminal charges, are similar to those in a lawsuit filed by the bank in a Delaware court. A lawyer for Boholiubov did not reply to an email seeking comment.

In a statement written in Russian, Kolomoisky said all the money used to purchase the U.S. properties was his own, received through a deal made with a mining company in 2007 and 2008 and from other businesses that banked with Privatbank.

Kolomoisky also has long been facing a criminal probe by the U.S. attorney’s office in Cleveland for possible money laundering. As a part of that case, the FBI raided the office of Optima Management Group in downtown Cleveland on Tuesday, as well as an Optima office in the Southeast Financial Center building in Miami.

In court documents, the Justice Department alleged Thursday that two Miami-based business associates of Kolomoisky and Boholiubov’s — Mordechai Korf and Uriel Laber — helped acquire and manage the oligarchs’ holdings in the United States, which often bear some version of the name “Optima.” Optima Ventures at one point became the “largest holder of commercial real estate in Cleveland,” using stolen funds to buy major downtown office buildings and a hotel, the Justice Department alleged.

Last year, Marc Kasowitz, a New York lawyer who also represents Trump, signed on to represent Kolomoisky and Boholiubov in the Delaware case. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Under Ukraine’s last president, Petro Poroshenko, the government nationalized Privatbank, alleging that Kolomoisky and one of his business partners had defrauded the bank of billions of dollars. Kolomoisky denied those charges but decamped from Kyiv to Israel, where he also holds citizenship. He retained political power in Ukraine through his business holdings, which include a major Ukrainian television station.

Kolomoisky is seen as an ally to Zelensky, who was an actor before his election, starring in a comedy show that aired on Kolomoisky’s network. Zelensky’s election was widely seen as a boon for Kolomoisky, particularly after the new president made Kolomoisky’s personal lawyer the head of his administration. Some in the United States were suspicious of Zelensky’s ties to the mogul, thinking the connection ran counter to Zelensky’s promises to pursue an anti-corruption and reformist agenda.

Since then, however, Zelensky has not supported returning control of Privatbank to the oligarch, and he fired that top aide. Still, Kolomoisky has been comfortable enough with Ukraine’s current leadership that he returned from a self-imposed exile in Tel Aviv and is again based in Kyiv, where he maintains connections to members of the presidential administration.

In spring 2019, when Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani embarked on a mission to press Zelensky to assist Trump by opening politically charged investigations into former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Giuliani’s associates met with Kolomoisky to request that Giuliani get a sit-down with the rising Ukrainian politician.

Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman met with Kolomoisky in April 2019 in Tel Aviv, and, by all accounts, the meeting did not go well.

Giuliani associates claimed to have sway with both foreign billionaires and Trump administration officials

After the meeting, the two ­Florida-based business executives accused Kolomoisky of physically threatening them and filed a lawsuit against him in Ukraine. Parnas and Fruman, who assisted Giuliani in his Ukraine project, were charged in the United States with campaign finance violations last year. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Giuliani has said he provided legal advice to Parnas and Fruman in their fight against Kolomoisky. He also tweeted repeatedly about his displeasure with Kolomoisky in May 2019 just as he was pressuring Zelensky to assist Trump with a Biden investigation. At one point, Giuliani complained that Zelensky was being advised by “Kolomoisky’s representatives and enemies of President Trump.”

Meanwhile, a lawyer for Kolomoisky has told The Post that during the Tel Aviv meeting, Parnas and Fruman claimed that they could get top U.S. officials, including Vice President Pence and then-Energy Secretary Rick Perry, to travel to Ukraine around the time of Zelensky’s May 2019 inauguration — if Kolomoisky paid them several hundred thousand dollars. Kolomoisky did not pay the money, instead throwing the two men out of his office, his lawyer has said.

The attorney, Bruce Marks, told The Post that Kolomoisky had predicted to friends at the time: “This is going to end up in a bad scandal.”

Ukraine arrests ex-PrivatBank official as U.S. prioritizes criminal probe of former owners

FEB 26, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAY 17, 2022

The National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) has arrested the former deputy chairman of a Ukrainian bank at the heart of an FBI criminal investigation as he attempted to fly abroad in the latest sign Kyiv is taking steps to tackle corruption and lawlessness.

Volodymyr Yatsenko was detained at Boryspil Airport in Kyiv on February 22 after investigators forced the pilot of the private jet he was traveling on to land, the bureau announced in a tweet.

Mr. Yatsenko, who was on his way to Vienna after reportedly being tipped off about his arrest, was charged with the embezzlement of funds at PrivatBank, once the nation’s largest lender.

More arrests of management could follow, the Kyiv Post reported.

The FBI is investigating the two owners of PrivatBank – Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Boholiubov – in connection with accusations that more than $5 billion was stolen from the lender through fraudulent loans and that the money was then laundered.

In a move that made international headlines, Ukraine was forced to nationalize PrivatBank in 2016 and pump more than $5 billion into the lender in order to stave off its bankruptcy.

The U.S. accuses Messrs. Kolomoisky and Boholiubov of using some of the laundered proceeds to buy assets in the U. S., ranging from metals companies to commercial properties, with the help of two American associates based in Miami.

The Justice Department last year filed three civil forfeiture lawsuits in a Florida court against a U.S. real estate holding controlled by the two tycoons and run by the associates.

However, a judge agreed last week with a Justice Department request to temporarily suspend the civil forfeiture proceedings amid concerns it could harm the criminal investigation against the Ukrainian businessmen and their two American partners.

“Allowing [the tycoons] to conduct discovery would expose the identities of witnesses who have provided and will provide information and testimony in both the civil forfeiture actions and the criminal investigation,” the Justice Department said in its February 19 filing.

“If that occurs, the confidential informants may cease providing information, and, to the extent they are not reachable through process in the United States, they may make themselves unavailable for future testimony. Potential sources of information who have not yet been interviewed by the government would likely be deterred from coming forward” the Justice Department said in its filing.

The tycoons deny the accusations and neither Ukraine nor the United States has filed criminal charges against them.

Mr. Kolomoisky is one of the most influential tycoons in Ukraine and the U.S. government’s investigation into his activities is being closely followed.

The billionaire owns key media, energy, and metals assets and is believed to have outsized influence over the administration of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Mr. Kolomoisky’s TV stations backed Mr. Zelenskyy’s successful presidential bid.

The U.S., one of Ukraine’s biggest backers financially and militarily, has repeatedly expressed concern about oligarchic influence over the nation’s government and economy.

Washington has also complained about the lack of investigations into corrupt tycoons and officials and has tied some aid to improvements in judicial reform.

The arrest of Mr. Yatsenko, who was flying on a private plane owned by Mr. Kolomoisky, is the latest in a series of moves by Kyiv to tackle cases that resonate with the U.S.

Mr. Zelenskyy last week approved sanctions on Viktor Medvedchuk, a tycoon and lawmaker with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Medvedchuk was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2014 for undermining democracy in Ukraine.

On February 2, Mr. Zelenskyy sanctioned three television stations believed to be owned by Mr. Medvedchuk. In late January he announced an investigation into Ukrainian individuals accused of interfering in the 2020 U.S. presidential elections.

The moves come after President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20. Mr. Biden knows Ukraine well, having served as the point man to Kyiv while serving as vice president from 2009 to 2017.

Political analysts say Mr. Zelenskyy is seeking to win over the Biden administration after a difficult relationship with the Trump administration caused by the 2019 impeachment investigation.


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Florida Shrugs it Shoulders as Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs Acquires An Entire Community

Citizens remain impotent about challenging the US Government and Wall St. Owning a home will not be a financial option and renting will be very costly.



Goldman Sachs-backed firm buys entire Florida community for $45 million

MAY 10, 2022 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAY 11, 2022

Yun’s comments below are typical of  NAR – TOTAL BS – and sound like paid advertorials for real estate investment trusts and equity funds.

Wall Street investors are capitalizing on the current housing crisis by investing in rental properties in Florida.

As WESH reports, one of the latest deals involves Cypress Bay, a community of 87 single-family rental homes at the very southern edge of Brevard County in Palm Bay, Florida.

Two investment funds have purchased the community of homes for $45 million.

The funds are the Growth eREIT VII fund and the Fundrise Interval Fund, which were financially backed by New York-based investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, the Chief Economist of the National Associate of Realtors, says the move is relatively new for Wall Street.

“The degree of large Wall Street money coming in fairly new. I think this is due to the unique circumstance of housing shortage,”

Yun said.

“Wall Street is able to generate money, private equity, hedge funds and others to say let’s go chase the rising rents and putting money into rental property development.”

“Investors come in and of course invest. Property just goes off the roof, which marginalizes a whole lot of people who just can’t afford it. Especially those in Brevard County who make less than $46,000 a year,”

Bishop Merton L. Clark of Truth Revealed International Ministries told WESH.

Goldman Sachs to pay $5bn for its role in the 2008 financial crisis

The settlement holds the bank accountable for its ‘serious misconduct’ in falsely assuring investors that securities it sold were backed by sound mortgages

APR 11, 2016 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAY 11, 2022

Goldman Sachs will pay $5.06bn for its role in the 2008 financial crisis, the US Department of Justice said on Monday.

The settlement, over the sale of mortgage-backed securities from 2005 to 2007, was first announced in January.

Goldman Sachs, like other banks, had a tough year in 2015 due to plummeting oil prices, China’s economic slowdown and worries over the US interest rate hike.

“This resolution holds Goldman Sachs accountable for its serious misconduct in falsely assuring investors that securities it sold were backed by sound mortgages, when it knew that they were full of mortgages that were likely to fail,”

acting associate attorney general Stuart Delery said in a statement.

In January, Goldman said it expected the agreement to reduce its earnings for the fourth quarter by about $1.5bn after tax.

According to the Wall Street bank, the settlement will consist of a $2.385bn civil monetary penalty, $875m in cash payments, and $1.8bn in consumer relief.

Among other measures, the bank will offer a reduction in unpaid principal for affected homeowners and borrowers.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement in principle to resolve these matters,”

Lloyd C Blankfein, chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said in January.

This is only the latest multibillion-dollar civil settlement reached with a major bank over the economic meltdown in which millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, which earlier this year agreed to pay $3.2bn, are two of the last big banks to pay up.

Bank of America agreed to pay the largest of the settlements, $16.6bn, in 2014.

A year earlier, JPMorgan Chase paid about $13bn.

Such settlements have been worked out by the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, which is co-chaired by New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman.

New Yorkers will receive about $670m of the Goldman Sachs settlement, including $190m in cash and $480m in consumer relief such as mortgage assistance and principal forgiveness.

“Since 2012, my No1 priority has been getting New Yorkers the resources they need to rebuild,”

Schneiderman said on Monday.

“This settlement, like those before it, ensures that these critical programs … will continue to get funded well into the future, and will be paid for by the institutions responsible for the financial crisis.”

The deal, however, includes no criminal sanctions or penalties and is likely to stir additional criticism about the Justice Department’s inability to hold bank executives personally responsible for the financial crisis.


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Accesso Partners Obtain $88M Commercial Refi, Which Benefits from a Jumbo Appraisal Spike

According to report below and assuming 75 percent LTV, the buildings 2018 valuation is around $117M, a whopping $41M gain in 2 years from a $76k valuation in 2017.



Is a loan default looming for this Loop office tower?

“Morningstar dropped its estimated value of the property to $76.3 million, barely more than its debt and well below its appraised value of $101 million in 2014.”

FEB 1, 2017 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: APR 15, 2022


“Accesso Partners just landed a huge refinance loan on their 29-story office tower at 230 West Monroe St – The Florida based office landlord secured $87.6 million….” – The Real Deal (fair use)

Hyatt Hotels’ decision to move its Chicago offices to a new riverside high-rise is leaving a Loop landlord in the lurch.

The hotel company is vacating about 75,000 square feet in the 23-story tower office building at 200 W. Monroe St., a big hole to fill for the property’s owner, Accesso Partners.

With the departure of Hyatt and another tenant expected to leave, Accesso could have trouble covering payments on the property’s $75 million mortgage, according to a report from Morningstar Credit Ratings, a unit of Chicago-based investment research firm Morningstar.

“Without significant new leasing, Morningstar is concerned that the debt service coverage ratio could fall below break-even and push the loan into default,”

Morningstar analysts wrote.

The situation illustrates the secondary impacts that ripple through the downtown office market when developers build new towers.

Though the Chicago office market is strong, it’s often a zero-sum game, especially when it comes to construction: Developers usually steal tenants from existing buildings to meet pre-leasing requirements so they can obtain construction financing for their projects.

In this case, the winner is Chicago developer John O’Donnell, who persuaded Hyatt in 2014 to move its headquarters to a new 53-story high-rise he’s wrapping up on the west bank of the Chicago River, at 150 N. Riverside Plaza. [Ben Gurion Way, 30 S. Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60606].

The losers

The owners of Hyatt’s current headquarters, at 71 S. Wacker Drive, where Hyatt leases about 200,000 square feet, and Accesso.

Accesso bought 200 W. Monroe in 2014, less than a year before Hyatt decided to leave the building.

The Hallandale Beach, Fla.-based investment firm owns about 536,000 square feet at 200 W. Monroe.

The 2014 sale did not include about 113,000 square feet owned by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Hyatt’s lease expires in December, so Accesso still has time to find one or more new tenants to replace Hyatt, its largest tenant. As of last September, Accesso’s share of the building was 70 percent occupied, according to Morningstar.

Complicating matters for Accesso

Another big tenant, National Education Servicing, also is expected to move out, according to the report.

The firm, which services student loans, occupies about 28,000 square feet in the building under a lease that expires in May.

Accesso is marketing the space for lease, according to CoStar Group, evidence that National Education could be moving out.

Together, Hyatt and National Education lease 19 percent of Accesso’s share of the building.

“We are aware of the two lease expirations at 200 West Monroe,”

Accesso said in a statement.

“We are talking with the tenants and marketing the space to other companies as well.”

After this story was published, Accesso released a second statement saying that it bought the building knowing that it could lose some tenants.

“We identified 200 West Monroe as a value-add acquisition,”

the statement said.

“As part of our business plan, we evaluated the rent roll, and nothing that has occurred was unanticipated. We have the capital committed to execute that plan.”

A representative of National Education and the firm’s real estate broker did not return calls.

Accesso paid $100 million for its space at 200 W. Monroe, financing the acquisition with a $75 million loan.

The mortgage was then split up into two pieces—one totaling $50 million and the other $25 million—which were packaged with other real estate loans and sold in two commercial mortgage-backed securities offerings sponsored by JPMorgan Chase.

The property currently generates enough cash flow to cover its $3.5 million in annual debt payments.

But it will slip into the red when Hyatt and National Education stop paying rent, unless Accesso can re-lease their space, according to Morningstar.

As a result, Morningstar dropped its estimated value of the property to $76.3 million, barely more than its debt and well below its appraised value of $101 million in 2014.

The Beach Bum Series from LIF: Natalie Goldstien Weinkle

Greater Miami Jewish Federation Elects New Board

MAY 31, 2020 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: APR 15, 2022

The Greater Miami Jewish Foundation, Florida

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation has elected long-time community leader Isaac K. “Ike” Fisher as Chair of the Board at its 82nd Annual Meeting, held on May 26 via Zoom.

A full slate of Officers and Board Members was also elected and will take office July 1, 2020.

Ariel Bentata, who was installed as a Federation Vice Chair, will serve as Federation General Campaign Chair – a position responsible for leading the Annual Greater Miami Jewish Federation/United Jewish Appeal fundraising efforts.

Fisher most recently served as a Federation Vice Chair and General Campaign Chair.

He previously served as Treasurer and an Executive Committee member. A leader in Federation’s Real Estate Division, he also serves on the National Board of Directors of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Fisher is a principal of Capital Realty Services, a diversified real estate company providing management, leasing, financing, sales and consulting services for commercial investments.

Capital Realty Services Inc. Website is Now [Kinda] Password Protected

– But this is How it Looked Recently

Bio of Ike Fisher

Isaac “Ike” K. Fisher grew up in Hollywood, Florida. He came to live and work in Miami after graduating from the University of Florida College of Law, previously receiving his undergraduate education at The George Washington University, Washington D.C.

Mr. Fisher is a real estate investor and a principal of Capital Realty Services, Inc., a diversified real estate company providing management, leasing, financing, sales and consulting services for commercial investments.

He has been a partner in commercial real estate with Robert G. Berrin through Capital Realty since 1988.

Prior to joining Capital Realty, he was vice president of Sonnenblick-Goldman Southeast Corp.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Fisher practiced law in a variety of capacities in Florida and in Tel Aviv, Israel.

He is a member of the Florida Bar, and an inactive member of the Israel Chamber of Advocates.

He is active in Jewish philanthropies and other national and community charitable organizations.

He currently serves on the national Board of Directors of AIPAC and is the Financial Management Chair and serves on the Executive Board of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

He resides in Coral Gables, Florida and Tel Aviv, Israel.

His daughter Rachel is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin and his son Cobi attends Indiana University.

Ariel Bentata

Bentata most recently served as Federation Major Gifts Chair.

He is a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee and the International Division.

He is also a recipient of the Stanley C. Myers Presidents’ Leadership Award.

He was a member of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) National Young Leadership Cabinet and served as Chairman of the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center, leading its capital campaign to build a new educational and cultural building along with completing major renovations to existing buildings.

Bentata is founding and managing partner of investments for Accesso, LLC, a full-service, vertically-integrated commercial real estate investment management company.

“These two roles are key to the success and wellbeing of our entire Jewish community,”

said Federation President and CEO Jacob Solomon.

“In this time of great uncertainty with the COVID-19 crisis, we need steady and bold leadership as a community to help us navigate the challenges ahead and to meet the extraordinary needs of the most vulnerable.”

Solomon added,

“It is also critical to address the financial security of our Jewish community institutions so the thousands of people who rely on them will continue to be able to do so in the future. Mobilizing human and financial resources is at the heart of Federation’s mission and both Ike and Ariel will serve as tremendous leaders for our community.”

To learn more about the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, visit or call 305.576.4000.

The Beach Bum Series from LIF: Jordan Weinkle

Florida office investor warms up to Chicago

Beacon Investment Properties LLC took a decade to buy its first office building in the Chicago area, but the Florida-based real estate fund manager is making up for lost time.

Managing member Ariel Bentata, who left behind a career as a lawyer to co-found the firm in 2003, remains on the hunt for new deals here even after a whirlwind of four acquisitions for nearly $233 million combined since Oct. 30.

That includes two Loop towers, one in west suburban Naperville and one in northwest suburban Buffalo Grove.

Mr. Bentata, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, whose firm invests on behalf of wealthy individuals and institutional investors from South America and Israel, believes Beacon’s foray into Chicago is well-timed, with high-yield deals available in the suburbs and downtown prices rising yet still a relative bargain compared with major cities on the coasts.

“We feel that Chicago has better opportunities than the gateway markets in the East and West,”

said Mr. Bentata, 44, who is based in Florida.

“Pricing feels very reasonable, trading well below replacement cost, with a rapidly expanding office-using employment base and a lot of educated workers. We see a great opportunity.”

After a law career that included a stint with MTV Networks Latin America Inc., Mr. Bentata decided to shift from investing on the side to helping create a real estate firm.

Hallandale Beach, Florida-based Beacon has built an 8 million-square-foot office portfolio with properties in its home area of South Florida, as well as Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Denver, Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and, most recently, Chicago. It has $1.4 billion in assets under management.

Late last year, Beacon spent $24 million on a building at 215 Shuman Blvd. in Naperville


$63.8 million on the tower at 20 N. Clark St. downtown.

In May, it added Riverwalk II at 2100 E. Lake Cook Road in Buffalo Grove for $45 million


the tower at 200 W. Monroe St. in the Loop for $100 million.

Beacon looks to continue expanding its portfolio in 2014, including in Chicago, Mr. Bentata said.

He recently shared his perspectives on the Chicago-area office market. Here are edited excerpts of that interview:

Crain’s: What are the advantages of assembling a portfolio in the Chicago area, rather than just buying one building?

Mr. Bentata: There’s multiple aspects of that.

There’s personnel you have in a market, taking advantage of your time when you travel to a city, and knowledge of a market and the brokers and principals who may want to do off-market deals with you.

And there’s purchasing power with vendors.

After your initial flurry in Chicago, are you being presented with a lot more potential deals?

Yesterday, a broker told us,

“That was the smoothest transaction of my life.”

We close on time and we don’t retrade. We’re easy to deal with and we do things quickly. That’s a message that has gotten out, and that causes people to call you. There are no committees or bureaucracies of any kind. When there’s a handshake there’s a deal, and the deal is going to get done quickly.

Chicago has seen a wave of new office buyers, particularly foreign investors. Why is that?

The U.S. is one of the best markets to invest in for many foreign associations. Chicago is at the top of mind for many foreign people. After New York and maybe (Washington) D.C., it’s one of the cities they recognize.

The economics are much more compelling than New York or San Francisco or Boston or D.C., the other markets they are maybe considering. Cap rates are extremely low and yields are extremely low (in coastal cities).

Some of these markets have hit all-time highs. They are trading at many times above replacement cost. The economics in those markets are not as compelling.

Many investors in Chicago have focused either on downtown or the suburbs, but Beacon has done both. How do you view the dynamics of each market?

There’s obviously more risk in the suburbs with the vacancy.

We view those deals as providing better returns. In the CBD, you generally have buildings that have more (rent) roll, sometimes they’re older, sometimes they need more amenities.

In the suburbs we’re finding Class A assets that are in great shape, with less rollover.

You’re still getting a good yield. In the suburbs you need to buy Class A buildings with good floor plates, amenities and location.

The suburbs have more risk, less absorption and more vacancy, so you need to be more careful with the properties you choose.

Do you think the brisk pace will continue for office deals in Chicago?

I think you’ll see a great deal of volume. People are taking advantage of great interest rates, and sellers are taking advantage of a robust market and pricing they haven’t seen in a long time.

But pricing is still very sensible in Chicago, and there is a nice rental growth rate, especially in the CBD.

The Beach Bum Series from LIF: Jordan Weinkle & Brian Abergel

230 West Monroe Office Tower In Chicago’s West Loop Acquired by Accesso Partners (Fomerly Beacon) in Joint Venture With Harel Investments for $122 Million

JUL 21, 2014 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: APR 15, 2022
Brian Rosen, Accesso and The Real Deal

West Monroe, a 29-story, Class A office tower in downtown Chicago’s West Loop, has been acquired by a joint venture between Accesso Partners, LLC, of Hallandale Beach, FL, formerly known as Beacon Investment Properties, and Harel Insurance, Investments and Financial Services, Ltd., Tel Aviv, for $122 million.

The 66% occupied 623,564 square-foot building, which had an extensive lobby renovation and elevator modernization in the last year, is Accesso’s fifth office property buy in the Chicago area in the last eight months.

Two months ago, an Accesso and Harel acquired the office tower next door, 200 West Monroe, a 23-story, 535,911 square foot Class A-property for $100 million.

The partnership plans to rebrand the two buildings as Monroe Plaza, a 1,159,584 square-foot office complex.

Jeff Bramson, senior managing director of HFF’s Chicago office which represented the sellers, said 20 U.S. institutional investors made offers on 230 West Monroe.

“But the Accesso/Harel joint venture made the best offer and had the best terms. Having worked with them on their acquisition of 200 West Monroe and the IDS Center in Minneapolis, we knew their joint venture would perform smoothly and swiftly for our clients and they did,” he added. “Once again, it was seamless.”

Jaime Fink, senior managing director and Mark Katz, managing director were also on the HFF sales team.

Susan Hill, managing director in HFF’s Houston office, arranged acquisition financing.

“We could not pass up the opportunity to own two adjacent Class A office towers in the West Loop,”

explained Ariel Bentata, co-founder and managing partner-investments of Accesso Partners..

“We also see the 34% vacancy factor in 230 Monroe, created when Wells Fargo Bank moved out, as a major plus with solid upside revenue potential. There is strong demand for downtown office space in Chicago—a large increase in new office using jobs was created in the first half of 2013–and we’re confident we can lease up both buildings at current market rates.”

Brian Rosen, Accesso’s managing director of acquisitions, said owning both buildings gives the partnership “obvious synergies and efficiencies” in leasing, operations, marketing and cross promoting retail tenants and amenities. ”

“More importantly, it gives tenants options and flexibility,”

Rosen said,

“because we can now accommodate more requests for office space of any size, for more upper-floor views or from tenants wishing to expand in the West Loop.”

Typical floor plates at 200 and 230 West Monroe measure 28,000 square feet and 24,000 square feet respectively.

Ron Lakin, senior vice president of CBRE Chicago and leasing broker for 200 West Monroe has been named by Accesso to represent both buildings. Lakin said the single ownership of the two towers and the rebranding as Monroe Plaza, “makes it more of a destination for tenants who want choices.”

The West Loop is prized by commuters or workers who use public transportation and Monroe Plaza is in the heart of the submarket. 230 West Monroe is one block from the Washington and Wells El station and four blocks from the Ogilvie Transportation Center and Metra’s Union Station.

Paul Gaines, director of asset management-Chicago and East Coast, said Accesso is already seeing a response to the “serious flexibility” now provided by the with adjacent office towers and by the “adaptability” of tenants who want a West Loop address.

“Several prospective tenants have told us they would be comfortable with part of their offices in 230 West Monroe which caters to smaller space users and the other part in 200 West Monroe which is configured for larger, full floor offices,” said Gaines

Looking ahead, Bentata contends Accesso Partners, which also owns 20 North Clark, a 35-story office tower in the Central Loop, will continue to look for acquisitions of buildings in downtown and in the areas strong submarkets to build “critical mass” in Chicago.

“We’re looking for properties in Class A locations where we can enhance value with physical upgrades and improve revenues with creative lease- up strategies.”


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Switzerland’s Partners Group Recaps $750M US Office Portfolio

Accesso Partners is maintaining an ownership interest in the eight office buildings and the company plans to do more deals with the Switzerland-based Partners Group.








HALLANDALE BEACH, FL–Locally based Accesso Partners has secured a $750 million recap for an eight-office tower portfolio by Partners Group of Baar-Zug, Switzerland. The portfolio covers 3.4 million square feet in major US cities, which Accesso has declined to name.

Partners Group is now the majority owner of the portfolio with Accesso continuing to provide asset management and property management services.

The properties offer further lease-up and value add opportunities, according to Fabian Nuenschwander, managing director and Co-Head, Private Real Estate Americas at Partners Group. He said they are located in submarkets with good access to housing, education and multiple modes of transport. Also, “the portfolio is well positioned with employers that view the workplace an essential tool to attract and retain talent,” Nuenschwander adds.

Brian Rosen, Accesso’s chief investment officer, says the transaction enables several of its investors to still participate in the future growth of the portfolio’s eight properties.
“Many, Many” More Deals

Rosen tells that Accesso plans to do “many, many” more deals with the Partners Group. “We will look for deals in our target markets that meet our joint criteria—assets in need of repositioning—where we can make major improvements in the buildings or the operations,” he says.

Rosen also notes that Accesso and Partners “look for urban locations or dense suburban locations,” adding that Accesso recently moved into its own five-story headquarters that it designed and developed. We are “aggressively looking at [acquiring] office towers in Miami and South Florida for the first time in several years,” he says. . West Point Advisors of New York and Eaton Partners of Norwalk, Conn. advised Accesso Partners on the joint venture.

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