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The Radio Voice of Asbury Park

GOOD NEWS FROM MAUREEN AND GOOD NEWS RADIO WYGG!

Asbury Radio is back! Maureen has returned to the airwaves and you can listen in every Friday night from 8:15 to 9 pm on Good News Radio WYGG 88.1 FM, and online here at asburyradio.com. Please e-mail asburyradio@maureennevin.com and let Maureen know what you'd like her to include in the discussion on future shows. Replays of the weekly show will also be available to stream here on demand.


Flashback: Asbury Radio broadcast from the WYGG studios

LISTEN LIVE ONLINE TO ASBURY RADIO ON GOOD NEWS RADIO WYGG

ON DEMAND REPLAYS:
Asbury Radio 2024-06-14.mp3


Talking Taxes and PILOTs

Posters to the chatboard Next Door expressed concern over Asbury Park's schools funding. Michael Sodano, of movie house fame, asked residents to contact local politicians and Asbury Radio posted our reaction. No offense intended toward Mike. But someone had to remind taxpayers how we got here.

Michael Sodano

PROPERTY TAXES ARE SET TO RISE BY 24%!

Asbury Park residents, your voice matters!

Asbury Park is facing a critical moment. Property taxes are set to rise by 24% due to state funding cuts to our schools. Immediate financial assistance is crucial to prevent the burden being shouldered solely by AP residents. The impact of three charter schools and the loss of $26 million in state aid over six years have put our district at risk. The AP Board of Education has already cut vital programs and staff. We must stand together to protect our children’s education and our quality of life.

This will affect everyone—renters, homeowners, and businesses alike. But you can make a difference! Here’s how:
Contact Your Legislators Now: Tell them New Jersey’s “Fair Funding” formula that is forcing drastic cuts to our schools and causing extreme tax increases is failing us. Share your personal story of the impact from the tax increase. Demand immediate and direct aid for Asbury Park’s School District to alleviate the tax burden on Asbury Park residents. A sample letter is attached. Reach out to:
- Senator Vin Gopal: SenGopal@njleg.org
- Assemblywoman Luanne Peterpaul: AswPeterpaul@njleg.org
- Assemblywoman Margie Donlon: AswDonlon@njleg.org
- Dyese Davis, Chief of Staff to the 11th Legislative District: DDavis@njleg.org
Together, we can protect Asbury Park’s schools, our community, and our quality of life. Use your voice for positive change!

Sample Letter

Dear Senator Vin Gopal, Assemblywoman Margie Donlon, and Assemblywoman Luanne Peterpaul,

Asbury Park is at a pivotal juncture. My property taxes are on the brink of a 24% increase due to state funding cuts to our schools. This dire situation demands immediate financial assistance to prevent Asbury Park residents from bearing this burden alone.

The presence of three charter schools and the staggering loss of over $26 million in state aid over the past six years have severely jeopardized our school district. The Asbury Park Board of Education has been forced to slash essential programs and staff. We cannot stand idly by as our taxes continue to dramatically increase , and our children’s education and community’s quality of life hang in the balance.

[Insert your personal story here and explain how the tax increase will impact you, your family, and your livelihood.]

We urge you to act now. New Jersey’s “Fair Funding” formula is not only unfair but also unsustainable, leading to drastic cuts to our schools and exorbitant tax increases. I am asking for immediate and direct aid to the Asbury Park School District to alleviate this coming tax burden on City residents and taxpayers.

Your prompt attention to this matter is not just appreciated; it is essential for the future of our city, our residents, and our children.

Sincerely, [Your Name] [Your Address] [Your Contact Information]

Maureen Nevin

Why do well-meaning letters like these addressing lost tax revenue for AP schools always leave out the pilot programs that allow new housing in the oceanfront district to pay no school tax and offer other builder abatements, called considerations for building along the ocean? These are in force for 50 years...(Post cut out.)

Michael Sodano

Maureen: Agreed. This is a multi-layered problem - not simply schools. Perhaps that's an element you can write in your letter AND copy the city council. Right now, however, the school budget needs to be approved by the April board meeting, and if we don't get some additional state aid our taxes WILL rise another 24%, eliminating a lot of our community who can't afford the increase.

Maureen Nevin

Michael: Why are you implying that the city council members have no idea what they're still passing into law at their bi-monthly public meetings? They are still approving pilots and tax abatements - politely called "builder considerations" - that they know will prevail for the next 50 years.

For six and a half years over WYGG AsburyRadio - The Radio Voice of Asbury Park - which I and my sponsors paid out $700 to every month for air time in order to tell everyone over radio and internet what the damage of these no-school-tax buyers were going to do to the children dependent on the public schools of this city - until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pushed us off the air, by turning the whole station off in November of 2006. You heard those shows, you were at those council meetings, Mike, where former councilmember John Loffredo would mock the show's audience from the dais by calling it the "Nevin Seven".

Most real estate salespeople, including Loffredo, encouraged potential buyers not to worry about the school system's condition and future state aid problems. They just told prospective buyers to send their children to "The Deal Schools".

Tell the council, you say, but their election campaign donors show who they listen to - rental property owners and developers!!

This is the tomorrow we warned about, Mike.


AsburyRadio Owes AP's Oceanfront Fans an Update

2/23-24/23 After sifting through every line of the city's nearly 70-page seminal document, the Subsequent Developer Agreement Among the City of Asbury Park and Madison Asbury Retail, LLC and Asbury Partners, LLC...

But you'll understand if I don't share it all with you at midnight tonight.

Highlights: The city's super gentlemanly redevelopment attorney Joe Maraziti of Maraziti Falcon assures me the city has not filed a lawsuit against Madison Asbury Retail, LLC (I will add "yet") and Asbury Partners owns none of the iconic features of the famous boardwalk. That includes the landmark buildings.

You can review (or right-click to download) the executed Subsequent Developer Agreement here.

Sure you have questions, so did we. As they say, film at 11. Please comment via e-mail: asburyradio@maureennevin.com


Much Needed Help for Asbury Park School Budget

2/12/23 Press Release from NJ Sen. Vin Gopal:

The New Jersey Department of Education released stabilization aid for six towns in my legislative district, LD-11, in the state's fiscal year 2023 budget: Asbury Park is receiving $678,526... Read the full press release

Comment via e-mail: asburyradio@maureennevin.com


Convention Hall Safety Questions Continue

At right is an exterior shot of Asbury Park's Convention Hall on its southeast corner.

If you look closely, you'll see a small horizontal object affixed to the vertical stanchion, which one observer half-jokingly asked, "Is that a band-aid?" I later learned that it is actually a tool used by engineers to monitor the growth of a crack in a surface.

It and others are likely the justification that structural engineers would give for their reluctance to offer the city any assurances that the Convention Hall complex is safe for the public to enter. The resolution has been renewed annually since Aug. 26, 2021.

LINK: City plans another default notice to developer

As late as Gov. Phil Murphy's second inauguration on Jan. 19, 2022, the city was allowing the public to gather in the arcade portion of Convention Hall, including the governor himself to celebrate his second win. It was a relief -- sad, but a relief -- to see the complex closed to Sea.Hear.Now visitors and the public last fall, although as I recall the arcade was open to concert goers. A strange logic there. Could the city have found an engineer to clear sections of the building safe from falling debris?

Comment via e-mail: asburyradio@maureennevin.com


Jay Sugarman Shows His Cards

From an iStar press release:

"iStar will contribute its remaining non-ground lease related legacy assets, the largest of which are Asbury Park and Magnolia Green, and approximately $400 million of its SAFE stock to SpinCo. By retaining certain assets and pursuing their orderly monetization, SpinCo will enable iStar shareholders to capture their potential upside value."

Wednesday, February 8, 2023 -- The picture of what iStar and its chair and CEO Jay Sugarman had envisioned for his next challenge is coming through much clearer now – after following SEC filings since 2019.

How did Jay's ground lease baby, trading as SAFE, and his Asbury Park holdings, become the stuff of shares, I pondered far longer than I should have? You see iStar is what investment funds call a Real Estate Investment Trust (or REIT), instead of betting on equity shares investors own shares in the trust. I couldn't see the fund's individual holdings – i.e., Convention Hall say, or the Paramount Theater. Hence, AsburyRadio's endless hunt through a cyclone bomb of SEC filings, which have slowed a bit now, as Jay's share transfers of STAR shares for SAFE shares have predictably wound down. And, iStar (STAR) holders have come out of the woodwork to protest their share price, attracting the interest of certain Louisiana-based K&SF law firm. The group is headed by the former Attorney General of Louisiana Charles C. Foti, Jr, whose credits include:

  • Recovering over $24 million for Louisiana consumers in consumer fraud matters
  • $8 million in anti-trust litigation
  • $9.1 million for state employees through Office of Group Benefits
  • Over $2 million for auto complaints
  • Over $33 million in Medicaid fraud
And, investigating and apprehending numerous contractor fraud criminals in the wake of one of the worst natural disasters in United States history, Hurricane Katrina.

General Foti's arsenal of legal researchers are weighing whether its estimated 37 cents per share offer from iStar is a fair price for the shareholders to be getting for their iStar shares, which include the non-ground lease assets of Asbury Park and Magnolia Green (we'll check the former out later). By non-ground lease we take those assets to be what we know as our boardwalk, from Loch Arbor to Ocean Grove, and a few blocks westward all along the highly valued Atlantic coastline. General Foti is understandably scouting for some iStar shareholders, who may have been best described by the investor magazine Seeking Alpha: “To say STAR holders were disappointed, is perhaps an epic understatement.”

As we have noted in earlier posts, iStar CEO Jay Sugarman was not amused to have won the redevelopment rights to AP's oceanfront like some guy in a crap game or an actual bankruptcy of the only remaining members of Asbury Partners. But the result was the same, Jay made a bad bet that the Partners, the Fishman brothers, would pay back a huge loan – and they collapsed instead.

Jay had fallen in love with ground leasing and that was where his heart was headed. The redevelopment rights to the AP oceanfront and a global recession comprised a very long detour.

So now he's moving on.

If ground leasing is a new one on you, you're not alone. In fact, Jay wrote in a little auto-bio on an individual website I came across years ago, that he actually favors investments that most people don't understand.

Coming up, AsburyRadio will explain a few of the major points in this The Big Deal!

iStar Inc. (NYSE: STAR)

Former Attorney General of Louisiana Charles C. Foti, Jr., Esq. and the law firm of Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC (“KSF”) are investigating the proposed merger of iStar Inc. (the “Company”) (NYSE: STAR) with Safehold Inc. (NYSE: SAFE) pursuant to which iStar shareholders will end up owning approximately 37% of the combined company directly. KSF is seeking to determine whether the merger and the process that led to it are adequate, or whether the merger undervalues the Company.

If you believe that this transaction undervalues the Company and/or if you would like to discuss your legal rights regarding the proposed sale, you may, without obligation or cost to you, e-mail or call KSF Managing Partner Lewis S. Kahn (lewis.kahn@ksfcounsel.com) toll free at any time at 855-768-1857.


Why you should care about the iStar merger

January 17, 2023 - Why does iStar's pending merger affect everyone who cares about Asbury Park?

The man who controls the rights to Asbury Park's entire oceanfront redevelopment, as lead investor of Asbury Partners, is Jay Sugarman. Jay is also chair and chief executive officer of iStar, a real estate investment trust (REIT), traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol STAR. iStar invested in Asbury Partners prior to the financial meltdown of 2008. When the markets collapsed, nearly taking every major bank in the country with them, Jay's borrower went bankrupt, leaving him the redevelopment rights to Asbury Park's planned oceanfront redevelopment.

According to REIT.com "iStar owns 35 acres, or 70 percent of the buildable land in the Asbury Park waterfront redevelopment zone. iStar's first several projects will account for more than 20 percent of the city's overall property tax revenue."

It is unclear, from this statement, whether the estimate above takes into account the multiple, long term tax abatements iStar was granted by the City of Asbury Park or the advances to cover infrastructure costs.

"To date, iStar has installed more than $19 million in new public infrastructure," said the magazine. Major construction funds were provided to iStar before each individual project broke ground. More than $30 million was raised through bonds obtained by the city, for which the bondholders are to be repaid by condo purchasers through assessments leveled on each. What monitoring is in place for this long-term program?

Since Jay began his Asbury Park project he has grown another investment that he is very excited about. That company, Safehold Inc., he says, is the first publicly traded company to focus on modern ground leases. Its ticker is SAFE. Ground leases, the company says, “...unlock the value of land beneath buildings.” SAFE began trading in June 2017 and, according to the iStar website, SAFE grew to a portfolio of $2.7 billion in 2019. These are pretty lofty numbers. And the iStar 2021 Annual Report cited “exiting (its) legacy and non-core assets and strengthening our balance sheet.” Just what kind of oldies are on the agenda to be thrown out with the new regime?

Alas, last month, December 2022, iStar filed a document with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission giving the details of its merger plans for iStar and Safehold to the SEC.

A digital word search of the voluminous filing did not reveal any references to Asbury Partners or Asbury Park. But we know from the analysts' questions during the third quarter earnings call, and previous calls, some of iStar's major properties here are singled out. iStar definitely has significant holdings in Asbury Park: iStar's re-purposing of the former Salvation Army building into a wonderful hotel and entertainment center called The Asbury, and Jay's dwarfing 17-story Asbury Ocean Club Resort & Residences, which occupies the old C-8 site. How will those places be affected by the merger? What about the public pool that hasn't been built? Can the city and its army of attorneys explain it all to us?

Which brings us back to the city's recent passage of Resolution 2023-89, another attempt by the city to force Jay and his partner Madison Marquette (MM) in MMAsburyRetail LLC to comply with Asbury Partners' contractual obligation dating back to 2004 to restore and maintain the city's landmark buildings. The protracted delays in completing the required work have exacerbated the hazardous conditions that have closed access to Paramount Theater, the Grand Arcade and the Convention Hall, venues that brought tourist money to the city – and ironically to MM itself.

So it was with considerable dread that Asbury Radio read of the bright new plans Jay Sugarman has floated, plans well-supported by more than a billion dollars in credit commitments from lenders to help turn his focus toward “revolutionizing real estate ownership through ground leasing.” Of course, lots of credit can become lots of debt, too. Will billions in debt be this round of developers' excuse for not fulfilling their contractual obligations?

A stock analyst on the sparsely attended earnings call, Matthew Howlett with B. Riley Securities, brought up the only direct press mention of Asbury Park. “I get lots of questions on Asbury Park,” he told Sugarman and his Chief Financial Officer Jason Fooks.

I tried most of today to contact Howlett, because I'd like to hear the questions he got and I have lots of questions, too. And I'd like to hear from others reading my posts on Facebook and on AsburyRadio.com. I have started a new e-mail for that purpose, AsburyRadio at MaureenNevin.com.

Tell me, please, what Jay considers legacy and non-core assets? The Casino building that Woody Allen paid homage to in his Stardust Memories? The Carousel House? Convention Hall and the Paramount Theater? The heating plant? Asbury Park was such a beacon of style that it attracted the finest architects –- Whitney Warren and Charles Delevan Wetmore, who designed Grand Central Station! I really thought Harvard-and-Princeton-educated Mr. Jay Sugarman would recognize our treasures and seize this moment!


iStar to Merge with Sugarman's Prized Safehold

January 11, 2023 - from AsburyRadio

Where does that leave Asbury Park's cherished landmark buildings? Who owns Asbury Partners and all the redevelopment rights to the City's Atlantic Ocean Waterfront?

From TipRanks.com:

iStar announced the initial public filing of a Form 10 registration statement with the U.S. SEC. The Registration Statement relates to the planned spin-off of Star Holdings in connection with the previously announced proposed merger between iStar and Safehold Inc. The Registration Statement, which was filed on December 16, 2022, includes preliminary information regarding the potential spin-off.

Published first on TheFly

Dec 19, 2022, 04:12 PM

For years AsburyRadio has been asking why iStar, the lone investor remaining of Asbury Partners, LLC, holder of all the redevelopment rights on the one-mile oceanfront of Asbury Park, has been filing SEC forms that appeared to be documenting the transfers or sales of its shares of AsburyPartners. Jay Sugarman, the head of iStar, posted his preference to finish his projects in Asbury Park ASAP and devote all his time to his new love - ground leasing - right on his web page. But when asked repeatedly for the Council's impressions, inquirers got no response.

Now the reason for those filings seems obvious. Daddy Warbucks must be pulling out kids.

Tonight (Jan. 11, 2023) the council plans to pass Resolution #2023-89 to hold iStar - Asbury Partners and Madison Asbury Retail, LLC in default for failures to comply with the structural needs of even more of the oceanfront's landmark buildings than the ones it cited in a similar default resolution last year. Resolutions expire and must be reissued to stay in force.

The Asbury Park Reporter is now live streaming public council meetings on its Facebook page. The record of the Jan. 11, 2023 meeting will be posted as soon as possible.


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MAKE MY CHRISTMAS

My first book is a pocket-sized, dark humor novella titled "Make My Christmas." First in my Flying Books series, a fast read and perfect length for a flight to visit the family units. It's been available as an eBook for several years. Time enough to gather nice reviews on Amazon. Available in print from Lulu.com.


LISTEN TO SHOWS FROM THE ASBURY RADIO ARCHIVES

NJ 101.5's Big Joe Henry
Big Joe Henry of NJ 101.5 has a special message for Asbury Radio fans! Click on his picture to listen.

New book featuring Asbury Radio guest Angelo Florio

Angelo Florio, one of our most memorable guests on Asbury Radio, was undercover when something went terribly wrong. Click here for our interview with Angelo and to hear the tape he was wearing that fateful day.



JO ANN BIVIANO
September 11th
Remembrance
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