Central Warehouse owner returns to bankruptcy court to continue building


ALBANY – The owner of the central warehouse is heading back to bankruptcy court to try again to keep the huge property.

Evan Blum’s company, The Phoenix of Albany LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York hours before the Albany County Legislature unanimously approved on Monday a resolution authorizing the county to sell Blum’s property for non-payment of taxes.

Blum’s new attorney said the bankruptcy filing creates a reprieve that prevents the county from selling the property, calling the vote “null and void.”

County spokeswoman Mary Rozak disputed that, saying the legislature’s resolution only allowed the county to go ahead with the sale and that the transfer would not proceed until legal disputes would not be resolved.

“We will immediately dismiss the Chapter 11 case … for filing in bad faith,” said county attorney Eugenia Condon.

Blum previously filed for bankruptcy last year when the county first decided to seize the property and open it up to bidders. Blum’s bankruptcy petition was withdrawn in December after a judge rejected his plan to repay more than $500,000 in overdue property taxes and make necessary repairs to the building.

In his latest filing, Blum estimates the building to be worth $3 million. His business has liabilities of over $830,000, including back taxes. He has $286 in cash and no income, according to the record.

Blum filed in the Southern District of Manhattan, where The Phoenix of Albany is headquartered. His new bankruptcy attorney, Doug Pick, said they tried to work with Albany County to maintain Blum’s ownership of the building, but never received a response. Pick said Blum offered to pay $30,000 up front, with an additional $30,000 in the coming days.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Pick said of the county’s plans. “The question is, what is the value of the property? We don’t understand the county’s reaction to the offer.”

Blum’s plan, as in his original bankruptcy filing, is to pay off back taxes with proceeds from a pending property sale in Pennsylvania. He has already said in court documents that the transaction would net him $700,000.

Pick said Blum’s intentions remained to pay taxes and make the warehouse an income-generating property.

It was not immediately clear whether Blum’s filing would impact the motion he filed last week in the Albany State Supreme Court to have the county’s foreclosure statement dismissed on grounds of procedure.

The county filed foreclosure in February as part of its plan to transfer ownership of the central warehouse to CW Skyway, LLC., the development company owned by Redburn Development and Columbia Development.

Both companies said they were planning a major overhaul of the decaying structure. They would buy the property for $50,000 in exchange for the county waiving over $500,000 in back property taxes.

The resolution approving the transfer was withdrawn for the first vote of the night. County leaders believe the team effort of two of the area’s top developers will lead to the rebirth of a building that is one of the city’s notorious eyesores.

Redburn and Columbia have proposed a massive redevelopment, which will rely heavily on public money, for the property which includes apartments, commercial and retail space.

The legislature also filled two positions on the county planning board months after two council members resigned rather than be fired.

The legislature voted 35 to 3 to appoint Gary Ginsburg, of Glenmont, and Beth Lacey, of Albany, to the eight-member council.

Lawmakers Mark Grimm, Todd Drake and Dustin Reidy opposed the nominations.

The two council members replace Dominic Rigosu, former chairman of the planning council and member for 13 years, and Enzo Sofia, structural civil engineer.

The couple resigned in October after learning that the legislature planned to remove them. At the time, there was speculation that the layoffs were due to a 2019 planning board vote against a Costco development in Guilderland.

Chairman Andrew Joyce previously said the couple’s vote on the Costco project had nothing to do with the legislature’s plans to revoke them.

Ginsburg is the Director of Senate Services at the New York State Senate. Lacey is a partner at Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture & Preservation, an architectural firm.


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