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
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?
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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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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?
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.
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