Beacon abatements approved
But residents say new owner is dealing in bad faith, ignoring promises
by E. Assata Wright
Reporter staff writer
Dec 02, 2012 | 3716 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Angry condominium owners at The Beacon complex say they have not received several amenities that were promised to them when they bought units in the luxury development on Montgomery Street. Most of the seven-hour City Council meeting on Nov. 28 was dedicated to pleas from residents who pressed the council to vote down several tax abatement proposals for the sprawling development.

At issue is whether or not The Beacon’s new owner – Connecticut-based Building and Land Technology – should be responsible for providing the amenities promised by original owner George Filopoulos.

The residents claim that Filopoulos and Building and Land Technology have not negotiated with them in good faith. They further claim that new rental properties currently being developed at the Beacon site lack amenities that were supposed to be included in those buildings for the benefit of the entire Beacon community.
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The City Council approved several 15-year tax abatements for four rental properties at the site, but tabled two requested abatements for a parking garage that are part of the dispute.
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In the end, the council approved several 15-year tax abatements for four rental properties at the site – the Mercury, the Orpheum, the Paramount, and the Tower – but tabled two requested abatements for a parking garage that are part of the dispute between Building and Land Technology and the residents.

The abatements were approved by a vote of 8-0. Councilman David Donnelly left the meeting early due to illness and did not participate in the vote.

After the crash

According to Filopoulos, he bought the Beacon property, the former home of Jersey City Medical Center, for about $7 million in the mid-2000s. The property was purchased from the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency.

At the time, Filopoulos planned to renovate six buildings at the site and convert them into luxury condos. More than $100 million was spent, he said, renovating and redeveloping the two towers that are the centerpiece of the Beacon property.

When the economy and housing market crashed, however, Filopoulos said, he was not able to sell units in the towers – known as the Rialto and the Capital – to recoup his investment, and turn a profit.

Several of the condo owners who spoke at the council meeting last week said they are currently “underwater,” meaning they owe banks more money on their condos than their properties are currently worth.

In an effort to jump start the redevelopment of the Beacon site, Filopoulos sold five un-renovated buildings to Building and Land Technology for about $46 million. Building and Land Technology now plans to redevelop these buildings and turn them into luxury rental housing. The company is also building a parking garage, which condo owners in the Rialto and Capital say will have different access rules for them than the residents of the newer developments.

They further claim that this is part of a trend. They claim that Building and Land Technology has refused to build several planned amenities at the Beacon that had originally been promised by Filopoulos, including a rooftop restaurant, day care center, and an on-site grocery store.

“We know the market changed. We’re not unreasonable. We know that some things have had to be scaled back,” Lamar Auguste, a member of the Rialto-Capital condo board, told the council Wednesday. “All we are asking for is the right to sit down and talk to them about these matters, so we can see what amenities are possible.”

At the meeting, attorneys for Filopoulos and Building and Land Technology denied that they have not negotiated in good faith with the residents.

With the approval of the administration of Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, abatements for the parking garage were tabled until the two sides can work out an agreement and resolve the matter on their own.

E-mail E. Assata Wright at awright@hudsonreporter.com.



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