State Prosecutor Probes Trump Finances in FiDi Landmark
The 70-story, Depression-Era skyscraper at 40 Wall Street, owned by Donald Trump, is the focus of a civil-fraud investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
The office building at 40 Wall Street figures prominently in a probe by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating whether President Donald Trump (who holds a “ground lease” on the 1930 skyscraper through the year 2059) fraudulently inflated the property’s value in loan documents, when using the structure as collateral.
On Wednesday, State Supreme Court judge Arthur Engoron ordered Eric Trump (who is running the Trump real estate organization while his father is in the White House) to appear in court in September 23 to “show cause” as to why he and the firm he heads should not be forced to hand over documents demanded by Ms. James for her investigation. The judge also ordered both Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization to summit any written arguments by September 16.
At issue is whether Mr. Trump made false claims about the value of 40 Wall Street when he refinanced a mortgage on the property several times, after buying the lease for $1 million in 1995. Court documents filed by the Attorney General’s office note that he obtained loans against 40 Wall Street in 2005, 2010, and 2015. The $160 million mortgage from 2015 is the largest single debt carried by the Trump Organization, with Mr. Trump is personally responsible for $20 million.
The heavily redacted court documents note that “Loan documents required Mr. Trump…” followed by three lines of blacked out text. Another paragraph says, “Information regarding the Trump Organization’s reporting of the value of 40 Wall Street is significant to the Attorney General’s investigation…” followed by five lines of missing text.
Ms. James began her probe in 2019, after Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s onetime personal lawyer and erstwhile fixer, testified before Congress that, “it was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.” During the same hearing, when Mr. Cohen was asked if the President or his company ever overstated the value of assets when applying for a loan, he answered, “yes.”
The court documents filed by the Attorney General argue that, “Trump’s annual financial statements inflated the values of Trump’s assets to obtain favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage, while also deflating the value of other assets to reduce real estate taxes.”
In the 25 years since Mr. Trump acquired the lease on the building, 40 Wall Street has become home to a host of troubled and legally questionable enterprises. A 2016 analysis by Bloomberg noted that the structure has housed (in addition to the now-defunct Trump University and Trump Mortgage firms) multiple unregistered securities dealers specializing in penny stocks, an attorney who eventually pleaded guilty to stealing millions of dollars from clients, an attorney who specialized in large-scale immigration fraud, a Ponzi-scheme operator, a marijuana smuggler, and two financiers who (separately) tried to fake their own deaths when clients sought to withdraw their funds. (Both were later imprisoned.)
EYES TO THE SKY
September 8 – 20, 2020
Planets shine all night – brilliant morning planets
In the evening sky, planets Jupiter and Saturn shine side by side in the south. Jupiter, at magnitude -2.51, is visible at dusk and is joined, as darkness falls, by Saturn (.34 m). Reminder: the smaller the number the brighter the celestial body. Enjoy the juxtaposed planets, the largest in our solar system, until they set in the southwest after midnight.
When I am indoors at 10 o’clock, I look from a south-facing window for Jupiter, the bright star-like beacon, with dimmer Saturn to its left above the skyline. Then, at midnight, I find the twosome approaching the southwest skyline.
Outdoors, with a clear view to the east-northeast around 9:15pm tonight, find Mars, the Red Planet, climbing above the horizon. The luminous planet brightens from -1.97 magnitude today to -2.22 m on the 17th. Mars continues to brighten into mid-October and rises a few minutes earlier every night.
In general, stargazing begins about an hour after sunset. Dimmer celestial objects are visible about half an hour later, when darkness is as complete as it can be, known as “astronomical twilight.” Sunset occurs around 7:15pm this week and 7 o’clock next week. Moonrise tonight is close to10 pm. The waning moon rises half an hour to an hour later every succeeding night.
Turning to the morning sky, the dazzling light of planet Venus, -4.16 m, finds its way through the cityscape into windows with a view to the east-northeast from about 3am until 5:30am. Outdoors, the goddess planet is the highlight of these late summer mornings. The third brightest celestial object in Earth’s skies next to the Sun and moon, Venus can be seen until about half an hour before sunrise once you know where to look. Sunrise is around 6:30am.
An hour before sunrise, marvel at winter’s prominent stars and constellations between Venus in the east and Mars in the southwest.
Lower Manhattan cultural institutions are beginning to stir from their months-long lockdown.
The 9/11 Tribute Museum (92 Greenwich Street, at the corner of Rector Street), reopened on September 3. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum (within the World Trade Center complex) will reopen its doors on the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The Museum of Jewish Heritage 36 Battery Place, near First Place) will welcome visitors back starting on September 13, and has also extended the run of its acclaimed exhibit, “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away,” through May 2.
On-Again, Off-Again Decision about Tribute in Light Revives Calls for National Parks to Manage September 11 Memorial
The recent controversy over the planned cancellation of the Tribute in Light (the twin beams of illumination that rise skyward from Lower Manhattan on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001) has led to renewed calls by community leaders for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to be taken over by the federal government, and operated by the National Park Service (NPS).
The most recent dispute arose in August, when the Memorial announced that it was cancelling both the Tribute in Light and the annual reading of names that commemorates each life lost during the attacks. Both of these moves were characterized as public-safety measures, in the response to the ongoing pandemic coronavirus. To read more…
The Fate of a Neighborhood
Appeals Panel Overturns Lower Court Decision Blocking Two Bridges Developments
Opponents of three massive real estate developments planned for the Lower East Side were dealt a setback on Thursday when the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court reversed a ruling from last year that said the projects were required to undergo a more rigorous form of public review before final approval. The Appellate Division, in a unanimous decision, ruled that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio had legal authority to approve the plans. To read more…
‘Schools Are Not Safe to Reopen’
Lower Manhattan Principals and Teachers Sound Alarm about Fall Semester
Multiple principals and teachers in Lower Manhattan public schools are voicing grave concerns about the plan to reopen education facilities on September 10.
They are also raising objections to the “blended learning model” that the City’s Department of Education (DOE) plans to implement this fall, with students going to school buildings one to three days per week, while learning remotely (from home) for the remainder of each week.
A coalition of 14 principals who run elementary and middle schools in the DOE’s District Two wrote to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza on August 19, calling upon them to, “delay the launch of in-person learning until we can adequately plan for a safe and instructionally sound return to school buildings.” To read more…
The Weight of Water
Discussion about Development Highlights Local Infrastructure Challenges
At what point does a water and sewer system designed after the Civil War to support a community of five-story buildings buckle under a district of 50- and 100-story buildings?
This was the question raised by Fern Cunningham at the June 17 meeting of the Quality of Life Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1). The Committee was reviewing a presentation by Humberto Galarza, a public affairs representative with the City’s Department of Environmental Protection.
Ms. Cunningham asked, “what is the impact of CB1’s increased density on our sewage treatment and access [to drinking water]?” This was a reference to the headlong pace of real estate development in Lower Manhattan in recent years.
“Every now and then we hear about water main breaks,” Ms. Cunningham continued, “and we are the oldest part of the City. To read more…
Welcome to the Velodrome
Visionary Plans for Getting Around Downtown Focus on Two Wheels and Two Feet
A pair of new studies outlines a future for Lower Manhattan that is highly cyclical. The first of these, a report from the Downtown Alliance titled, “Bicycle Infrastructure & Commuting in Lower Manhattan,” notes that more than 20 percent of people who are employed Downtown currently walk or bike to work, while nearly one-third of people who live here get to and from their places of business in the same way.
These hardy souls are among some 49,000 New York City commuters (concentrated mainly in Manhattan and Brooklyn) who get to the office and back under the power of their own legs each day — a figure that has jumped 55 percent since 2012, and is growing by roughly nine percent each year.
Local Apartment Rents and Sales Prices Tumbled in the Second Quarter
A trio of reports quantifies the extent to which property prices in Lower Manhattan crumbled in the three months ending June 30.
A pair of analyses from Platinum Properties, a brokerage firm headquartered in the Financial District, looks in detail at Battery Park City and the Financial District.
The company’s report about Battery Park City documents that the average sales price for a condominium in the community dropped by 24.81 percent, relative to the second quarter of 2019, to $1.16 million. This aggregate figure varies by apartment size, with the worst pain reserved for sellers of two-bedroom units, which dropped by 42.4 percent from the first quarter of this year. The number of units sold fell by more than half, to just nine apartments.
Kavanagh and Niou Aim to Protect Small Businesses by Offering Tax Incentives to Landlords
Two State legislators representing Lower Manhattan are proposing to rescue small businesses with a plan that would trade tax credits to landlords for rent breaks to commercial tenants.
Inspired by the acute financial distress that small businesses are experiencing in the wake of the pandemic coronavirus (and the economic cataclysm that it has unleashed), the “COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Lease Act,” sponsored in the State Senate by Brian Kavanagh and the Assembly by Yuh-Line Niou, aims to entice property owners to renegotiate leases and offer long-term, affordable rents to small business owners.
Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
$10 suggested donation
In September 1945, Bess Myerson, Miss New York City, made history at the most famous beauty pageant in the world. In spite of anonymous phone calls to judges, threats from sponsors, and growing antisemitism, the daughter of struggling immigrants from Russia became the first Jewish Miss America. The judges could not change the point count: the beauty queen from the Bronx won the swimsuit competition, tied for first place in talent, and was top-ranked in interview and evening gown categories. But was the country ready for a Jewish Miss America? Bess Myerson: The One and Only Jewish Miss America tells the surprising story of Bess, her parents and sisters, and the Sholom Aleichem housing project that shaped so many Jewish families starting out in the United States.
This one-hour documentary follows Bess from her improbable entrance in her local pageant through her heartbreak when sponsors withdrew their support and restricted tour stops closed their doors on Jews. Join in for a discussion of the film with director David Arond, MJH Board of Trustees Vice Chairman and ADL National Director Emeritus Abraham Foxman (who is featured in the film), and Bess’ daughter, screenwriter and actress Barra Grant.
Recently Reopened Businesses Downtown
Get Out on the Water
from North Cove
Need a safe and breezy break from your apartment? Several cruise operators have reopened in North Cove and are offering opportunities to get out on the water, including Tribeca Sailing, Ventura, and Classic Harbor Line. All cruise operators are adhering to social distancing guidelines; check individual websites for details.
1264 – The Statute of Kalisz, guaranteeing Jews safety and personal liberties and giving jurisdiction over Jewish matters, is promulgated by Bolesław the Pious, Duke of Greater Poland.
1504 – Michelangelo’s David is unveiled in Piazza della Signoria in Florence.
1522 – Magellan–Elcano circumnavigation: Victoria arrives at Seville, technically completing the first circumnavigation.
1727 – A barn fire during a puppet show in the village of Burwell in Cambridgeshire, England kills 78 people, many of whom are children.
1810 – The Tonquin sets sail from New York Harbor with 33 employees of John Jacob Astor’s newly created Pacific Fur Company on board. After a six-month journey around the tip of South America, the ship arrives at the mouth of the Columbia River and Astor’s men establish the fur-trading town of Astoria, Oregon.
1883 – The Northern Pacific Railway (reporting mark NP) was completed in a ceremony at Gold Creek, Montana. Former president Ulysses S. Grant drove in the final “golden spike” in an event attended by rail and political luminaries.
1892 – The Pledge of Allegiance is first recited.
1900 – Galveston hurricane: A powerful hurricane hits Galveston, Texas killing about 8,000 people.
1934 – Off the New Jersey coast, a fire aboard the passenger liner SS Morro Castlekills 137 people.
1935 – US Senator from Louisiana Huey Long is fatally shot in the Louisiana State Capitol building.
1974 – Watergate scandal: President Gerald Ford signs the pardon of Richard Nixon for any crimes Nixon may have committed while in office.
1989 – Partnair Flight 394 dives into the North Sea, killing 55 people. The investigation showed that the tail of the plane vibrated loose in flight due to sub-standard connecting bolts that had been fraudulently sold as aircraft-grade.
1994 – USAir Flight 427, on approach to Pittsburgh International Airport, suddenly crashes in clear weather killing all 132 aboard, resulting in the most extensive aviation investigation in world history and altering manufacturing practices in the industry.
1588 – Marin Mersenne, mathematician, philosopher, and theologian (d. 1648)
1633 – Ferdinand IV, King of the Romans (d. 1654)
1779 – Mustafa IV, Ottoman sultan (d. 1808)
1841 – Antonín Dvořák, Czech composer and academic (d. 1904)
1900 – Claude Pepper, American lawyer and politician (d. 1989)
1922 – Sid Caesar, American comic actor and writer (d. 2014)
1925 – Peter Sellers, English actor and comedian (d. 1980)
1932 – Patsy Cline, American singer-songwriter and pianist (d. 1963)
1938 – Sam Nunn, American lawyer and politician
780 – Leo IV the Khazar, Byzantine emperor (b. 750)
1954 – André Derain, French painter and sculptor (b. 1880)
1977 – Zero Mostel, American actor and comedian (b. 1915)
Edited from various sources including Wikipedia,and other media outlets