Gaia Real Estate sues Stanford in court, seeking $1.1 million in tax relief for sinking loft complex

STAMFORD – The owner of Yale & Town Loft, a cracked and submerged iconic Harbor Point building, is in court seeking a $1.1 million property tax reduction.

According to an appeal filed in Stamford Superior Court by its owner, Gaia Real Estate of New York, which does business as Lofts Owner LLC, the structure was “damaged to the point that it required complete dismantling and complete reconstruction.” There is.

According to court documents, this is the result of “lowering groundwater levels and subsidence of underlying embankments.” “In addition to the cost of the demolition, he lost 100% of his rental income. These are all major disasters for the owner of the 200 Henry Street building,” it said.

The 225-unit building said it had “completely evicted tenants for security reasons.” Damage included “numerous cracks in floor slabs, beams, columns, windows and walls.”

The last tenant moved out in April.

As such, the current valuation of the city’s buildings is “overstated,” according to court documents.

Last year, the IRS assessed the total value of the five structures that make up The Lofts at $40.4 million, with a fair market value of $57.7 million.

However, its value is now “significantly diminished,” the document said.

It does not specify the modified value or amount of tax relief sought by the owner.

City records show that until last year, when the owner paid half the amount, all the taxes on the building were paid.

According to court documents, the owner asked the Stanford Board of Appeals for Appraisals for a hearing, which was denied.

“We have not heard of any tax appeals against commercial buildings worth more than $1 million,” Board Chairman George Setsa said Monday. “They have to go to court.”

According to state law, the Tax Appeals Board may choose not to conduct public hearings on commercial properties valued over $1 million. Alternatively, the property owner may, subject to law, appeal to the High Court of the Jurisdiction.

Pullman & Comrie’s Elliot Pollack, an attorney representing the owner, did not return a request for comment on Monday.

City attorney general Doug Dalena, tax assessor Greg Stackpole and Mayor Caroline Simmons’ special assistant Lauren Mayer also did not respond to requests for comment.

Court documents state that Yale & Town’s loft is sinking due to “special and unique circumstances” not attributed to its owners that occurred after October 1, 2017.

It’s been nearly a year since Gaia Real Estate acquired The Lofts from Building & Landing Technology, developer of the multi-billion dollar Harbor Point project.

BLT built the loft in 2010, converting a 100-year-old Yale & Town rock factory with a foundation made of wooden pilings.

Gaia then discovered that the stake had fallen prey to dehydration. A little-known phenomenon caused by lowering the water table beneath buildings, exposing the piles to the air, and allowing bacteria and insects to multiply and consume the wood.

Gaia’s engineers initially thought the building could be saved, but later decided it would not survive renovations. Gaia’s architects called it a disaster.

The company’s insurance company won’t cover damage caused by dehydration, a Gaia executive told the Stanford Historic Preservation Advisory Board in April.

Gaia’s planners are now on board for historic preservation bonuses that will allow the company to build more apartments in the new structure. Planners say Gaia will need to increase revenues to cover lost rental income, demolition and reconstruction costs.

According to court filings, the Stanford Building Division has issued a temporary demolition permit, but more permits are needed. The company is also waiting for zoning approval before tearing it down and rebuilding it, the documents said.

The loft owner appealed to court after the Board of Appeals for Appraisal declined a hearing in the spring. The latest lawsuit in the case took place earlier this month, and when Lofts attorney Pollack challenged a request from Stanford Assistant Corporation attorney Barbara Coughlan, he said, “All internal or published/distributed I have asked for copies of memorandums, letters, correspondence, e-mails, memos “, files, reports or documents relating to or relating to the value of property” over the years.

The documents are “massive” and “absolutely irrelevant” to the owner’s claims about the condition of the building as of October when its value was last assessed.

If Stanford officials were to lower loft taxes, it wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened because of dehydration.

In 1976, the city stopped flooding downtown residential areas by replacing aging drain pipes. However, the city used larger pipes and installed them deep into the ground, which drained so much water that cavities formed in the soil and submerged buildings on the surface.

According to the Stanford Advocate’s story, kept in the Historical Archives of the Ferguson Library, the garage owned by Theodore and Julie Brunich was so damaged that the city stopped taxing them.

The debacle affected 15 homes and the city either bought them outright or asked their owners to repair them.

Loft’s dehydration scandal entails no city action, other than a potential tax cut. According to the court’s appeal, the owners are seeking to reduce the valuation “to its true real value.” reduction of taxes; overpayment of taxes and refund of interest on that amount;

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