Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Brooklyn builders buy stalled Woodbury Junction development for $35.5M 

Brooklyn developers shelled out $35.5 million last week for 327 undeveloped housing lots in the stalled Woodbury Junction development, consummating a deal that had been rumored to be in the offing since last June.

A series of deed transfers and mortgages filed Monday with the Orange County Clerk's Office show that several new limited-liability companies represented by George Kaufman and Joseph Templer of Brooklyn bought the properties from Rockland County builders William Brodsky and Kenneth Torsoe on Feb. 29. Kaufman, a builder who lives in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, had met twice last year with Woodbury Junction homeowners as the impending buyer of the unbuilt sections of the 451-home project.

Brodsky, CEO of The Carteret Group in Pearl River, had pressed the Town of Woodbury for zoning breaks for his project more than a decade ago, arguing he might otherwise be forced to sell his 400-acre property to developers from neighboring Kiryas Joel with plans for much denser housing. Ultimately, after a fierce political fight in Woodbury, the Town Board granted his request, tripling the allowable homes for Brodsky's site. Brodsky started construction on Woodbury Junction in the fall of 2007, just after the region's housing boom had ended.

Brodsky hasn't returned calls for comment on the property sale.

Woodbury Mayor Michael Queenan said Tuesday that he hopes the village will have an easier time with Kaufman than with Brodsky, recounting what he said were ongoing battles with the builder over infrastructure problems at the site and neglected commitments. "Everything was a fight with him," he said. "It was like a knock-down, drag-out fight about everything." Queenan also voiced amazement at how poorly Brodsky maintained the project site, questioning how he expected to sell upscale homes in a gated community with a nonworking front gate, an empty guard booth and potholes in its main road.

As for Kaufman taking over the project, Queenan simply said, "I hope the new developer would abide by the approvals and do what he's supposed to do."

Located off Dunderberg and Nininger roads, Woodbury Junction occupies a hilly swath of Central Valley with scenic views at its high points and an entrance across from Monroe-Woodbury High School. Its western end touches ACE Farm, a 140-acre property that the development arm of Kiryas Joel's main congregation bought for $12.7 million in 2004 and has left untouched.

Kaufman couldn't be reached for comment on his purchase and his construction plans. The sale has taken place as Hasidic home buyers are said to be looking at places outside Kiryas Joel in growing numbers as building space in the village runs short.

Woodbury Junction's buyers secured three mortgages to buy the land. Two mortgages are with Torsoe, who lent them $6.2 million. The third is with Olena Usherenko and a Brooklyn business called VS International, who together lent $2.5 million.

The limited-liability companies that bought the undeveloped lots — several variations of the names Woodbury Villas and Woodbury Complex — all list as addresses Templer's home and the law office of Howard Schneider, both in Williamsburg.

Records indicate that Brodsky sold 237 building lots for $25 million and Torsoe sold 90 lots for $10.5 million.

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