Property Owner Alleges Tax Assessment Is Excessive And Illegal
By Tina Traster
HNA Center of Palisades has filed a petition in Rockland County Court challenging its tax assessment, alleging the property’s assessment is grossly excessive, and therefore illegal. The current assessed value is $18,004,000. HNA asserts its assessment should be one tenth of the current assessment, or $1.8 million.
Based on the claims assessment filed July 16 by HNA Training Center NY LLC, and Orangetown’s uniform percentage of value, HNA’s full market value would be only $4,130,305 million for tax purposes.
HNA pays roughly $1.8 million in taxes annually to the town, county and school district. A successful appeal in court would impact Orangetown’s school, town, county and library taxes. The petitioner lost its appeal to Orangetown’s Board of Assessment Appeal.
The HNA Center has been on the market for sale since last February. Vasco Ventures, a south Brooklyn-based, real estate investment business that buys commercial and residential real estate, is reported eyeing a sale of the center. If HNA prevails in the court, a prospective buyer would benefit from lower taxes.
Sources close to the deal say the center is being sold for between $38 million and $50 million. The new buyers intend to continue the center’s use for conferences, said the source.
The HNA center, located on a secluded tract bucolic land on Route 9W, is a Hudson Valley gem with nothing to rival it. The beautiful facility is a labyrinth of conference spaces equipped with high-speed internet and state-of-the-art technology.
HNA bought the HNA Palisades Center for nearly $60 million, and the Hudson Valley Resort for nearly $14 million.
In 2017, HNA won approval from Orangetown’s Planning Board to build an additional five-story hotel with 100 rooms on the property. Rather than seeking a use variance for its hotel addition and its current hotel facility, HNA worked closely with Orangetown to come up with a solution: the 106-acre tract would be rezoned “Office Park (OP)” – a zone that allows hotels — but HNA agreed to a restrictive covenant that capped building heights at 50 feet and any free-standing outside retail vendor would be prohibited. The new zoning and the restrictive covenant runs with the land in perpetuity.
Vasco Ventures, founded by Ephraim Vashovsky in 2008, describes itself as a leader in “distressed and undervalued” real estate.
Vashovsky has previously focused on buying city residential buildings to upgrade them, and then rent or sell them in a much-improved state. More recently, Vasco Ventures has shifted to larger properties, such as the 2017 acquisition of the Griffin Office Park Portfolio in Hartford, Connecticut, for a reported $5 million. That five-building, 375,000-square-foot suburban office campus sits in the Griffin Office Center, a 600-acre development in greater Hartford.
Vasco Ventures also has buildings in Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and New York.
In 2017, Vashovsky pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment in the first degree, a felony, one count; and endangering the welfare of a child, a Class A misdemeanor; in a case involving a building on East 115th street in Manhattan. Vashovsky had bought the building for $3 million with a plan to renovate and rebuild luxury apartments. A family with five children under the age of 12 were living in the building. To force them out of their $2,400 a month rent stabilized apartment, it was alleged that Vashovsky gutted the building around them, cut off water and heat; and, according to the Manhattan district attorney, orchestrated a campaign of harassment. Vashovsky was sentenced to twenty days community service and forfeiture of $350,000.