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McClutchy: Milligan sought $10M for Leonard Street lot

Real estate broker Jason Milligan speaks to Mayor Harry Rilling, Planning Committee Chairman John Kydes (D-District C) and Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola, Tuesday in City Hall.

Correction, 2:20 p.m.: City appraisal is $1.9 million; update, comments from Jason Milligan added. 

NORWALK, Conn. – Real estate broker Jason Milligan, often a newsmaker, managed to make part of Tuesday evening’s hot button Common Council meeting about him.

First, Milligan apologized to Mayor Harry Rilling and others for his behavior and offered to provide parking for the “POKO” development, for a “reasonable” fee, if that’s what the community wants. Then, as Milligan sat in the audience, John McClutchy told the public that Milligan had tried to get $10 million for the at-issue Leonard Street parking lot, which is Milligan assigned a $3.2 million value to, and was formerly owned by the City.

Restarting construction on “POKO,” or Wall Street Place, has hinged partially on that lot, with the expected loss of the Garden Cinemas blamed on the lot’s unavailability due to Milligan having bought it unexpectedly, in what City officials call an “illegal” purchase.

Milligan provided emails Wednesday to show that McClutchy had been negotiating for both 21 and 23 Isaac St., the lot and a neighboring property. The combined City appraisals for the properties is $1,874,390. Milligan’s assigned value, when he bought them as part of a five property purchase, was about $3.7 million. This was done by calculating their square footage and using the total as a percentage of the overall purchase, the value being the results percentage of the total purchase price, he has explained.

 

 

Let’s review

Call it “POKO,” Wall Street Place or “The Tyvek Temple:” we’re talking about the partially completed apartment building on the corner of Wall and Isaac Streets, a project that has its roots in a 2004 redevelopment plan. This involved turning over two City parking lots to POKO Partners, which was expected to build a three phase development.

Construction stalled in June 2016 as a result of a $9 million budget gap, and POKO went bankrupt.

Parking is a major roadblock to restarting construction, as Ken Olson of POKO Partners was granted Zoning approval to move some of the required spaces off the Wall Street lot and onto what had been the City’s Leonard Street parking lot.

Olson has died and Citibank, current owner of Wall Street Place, does not control that land because Milligan bought it in May 2018. The City and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency have sued Milligan and Richard Olson over that sale, attempting to overturn it. The matter is still in court. Milligan, meanwhile, has engaged in many taunting activities, such as building a Tyvek “fence” around a City utility box and reacting to a Zoning violation on a mural he had painted by  covering it in Tyvek.

The public parties have negotiated with Citibank and its preferred redevelopers, John and Todd McClutchy of JMH Group, to develop a plan to finish the building. This involves purchasing and demolishing the Garden Cinemas to provide land for a two-story parking garage.

The Council Planning Committee advanced the plan to the full Council. The project was on Tuesday’s agenda, and a vote was possible.

 

 

A new twist

Many decry the potential loss of the cinema, while others blast the proposed look of the building.  The Wall Street Neighborhood Association on Sunday posted a “Save the Garden Cinema Movie Theater” petition and had more than 2,800 signatures as Tuesday’s meeting began.

With the Council chambers full, Mayor Harry Rilling announced that the Council was delaying the vote to September, so that the City and two major stakeholders could discuss the Cinema issue and the design concerns.

 

‘Obviously for reasonable fees’

Milligan was the 22nd person to take three minutes at the lectern to address the Council.

Norwalk real estate broker Jason Milligan talks to the Common Council Planning Committee, February in City Hall.

“I am very proud of you. I can talk about this project, these properties for a long time and I don’t have to tonight,” he said. “…I have a stake in that area and I am so moved by you listening to the people and the people rising up, that I am going to make a public apology to the three of you.”

To Planning Committee Chairman John Kydes (D-District C), he said, “I apologize for coming to your meeting wearing a Tyvek sweatshirt and being rude.”

To Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola, Milligan said, “I am sorry for swearing at you multiple times and calling you names.”

To Rilling, he said, “I am sorry for treating you badly from time to time and getting frustrated at you, I think you are a good guy and I hope that this opportunity, where we have a pause, we can all get together and find a solution.”

 

“I happen to own a parking lot that has 137 parking spaces,” Milligan said. “Besides the few kids that people have sent to play over there, there’s not a lot happening there. It very easily could become the parking for the project that I am not that fond of but if it’s what we all decide what’s best for Norwalk, I am amenable to finding a way to providing that parking. Obviously for reasonable fees.”

 

$10 million; no, $8 million

More than an hour later, Rilling asked John McClutchy if he would divulge how much JHM was paying for the Garden Cinema.

There’s a non-disclosure agreement, McClutchy said.

“Would it not have been wiser to try to purchase the Milligan property?” Rilling asked.

There had been a number of conversations with Milligan, McClutchy replied.

McClutchy explained that he and his son had been negotiating with a mortgage holder to buy the five “POKO” phase II and III properties for $5.2 million but Milligan bought it out from under them for $5.3 million, and they hadn’t been given the chance to negotiate.

They were then willing to pay Milligan $3.7 million for the Leonard Street lot itself, but he abruptly demanded $3.75 million plus $25,000 a month plus an end to the lawsuit the City and Redevelopment Agency had filed against him.

Milligan has told NancyOnNorwalk that latter part of the story himself. The $25,000 a month was his carrying costs on the property and the lawsuit should be dropped, he has said. He did not respond to a late evening email asking about the rest of McClutchy’s comments.

McClutchy’s story continued: The demand to end the lawsuit ended those negotiations, but Milligan came back later and told Todd McClutchy that he’d sell the lot for $10 million.

“That went on for a little while, then several weeks later he came back and told Todd he’d sell the property for $8 million. So, we have no clue. I know it’s not worth $10 million, I know it’s not worth $8 million. I know it’s not worth $5 million,” McClutchy said.

He explained, “Perhaps” JHM would have bought the lot for $3.7 million and was “pretty close” but, “we can’t seem to get any commitment from his perspective.”

 

‘We brainstormed’

“When I met with Todd we brainstormed several scenarios,” Milligan wrote Wednesday. “With the timing scenarios and other contingencies he would have wanted I told him $10 million. Under other scenarios we discussed $8 million.”

“I am happy to brainstorm. There are many things to consider,” he wrote. “Value is derived in many ways. Time is money and I value speed very highly. … it is a year later. I have spend close to 500k in combined legal fees. I have put over a million into my properties. And I don’t really want to sell. I would rather find ways that don’t include selling.”

12 comments

Mitch Adis July 24, 2019 at 6:48 am

Why is this different from Selligson getting $34,000,000 for the 95/7 property that was assessed you the City at $9,000,000? Nobody had a problem with that? Except those who lost their property at “fair market price” to eminent domain.

Jason Milligan July 24, 2019 at 7:26 am

If you don’t get a response from me than something is wrong.

I texted Nancy back 5 times.I have the screen shots to prove it. Summary below.

12:23 False
12:27 You have all the emails. Publish them
12:36 2 longer texts about email exchanges.
12:52 I am going to sleep

Not sure what is going on with Nancy’s text software but this is the 2nd time.

Jason Milligan July 24, 2019 at 7:39 am

McClutchy likes to buy things using others people’s money, your money.

His deals take years and years to pull together. They are chock full of tax payer cash and back room deals. McClutchy is a BIG senator to Democrats and it surely pays off.

Just this May he donated $10,000 to the CT Democrat organization that our own Eloisa is the treasurer for.

Make no mistake, my overwhelming 1st choice is for Team McClutchy to get the hell out of Norwalk and never come back!!

What I said last night was that I am willing to do what is best for Norwalk, and that I want to find a solution that saves Garden Cinemas.If that means finding a way to provide parking to the Tyvek Temole than I am open to negotiation.

The door is open. I hope we can finally have a nice collaborative meeting.

Bryan Kerschner July 24, 2019 at 8:04 am

This is my shocked face. Jason Milligan, hero for the little guy, is actually just a smart guy trying to flip a parcel for a profit. Did anyone else not see this coming from a mile away? If it wasn’t for the ridiculous behavior and false altruism I’d applaud the acumen for trying to get every last dime for the parking you were able to acquire. Just stop pretending to be a crusader.

Jason Milligan July 24, 2019 at 8:14 am

Bryan,

See above post.

I don’t want to sell anything especially to McClutchy.

Tearing down the Garden Cinema is BAD. Saving it is GOOD.

Figuring out a solution to parking is actually not that hard. I would prefer a solution that solves parking, saves the theater and where I don’t sell my lot.

How?

It starts by intelligent people talking open and honestly.

What the McClutchy Dou are forcing on Norwalk is not what it seems. It is NOT affordable housing! Not to build and not really to live. They just slap the label on it an stuff their pockets with $6 million in development fees.

Mike Mushak July 24, 2019 at 8:22 am

This excellent article (thank you Nancy on Norwalk) should be required reading for a course called “Trump Real Estate Secrets, How to Make Millions through Lying, Cheating, and Stealing and Ripping Off Taxpayers.”

And mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton worships this character like some kind of local hero so much so that she even accepted her biggest campaign donation from him, all while he assaults our great city with alleged illegal demolitions that destroyed small businesses while he vacationed in Europe, and a hideous tacky mural that says “I Believe in Norwalk” which apparently he does so much that he moved to New Canaan.

This says everything about Lisa Brinton’s ability or lack thereof to judge character and make wise decisions.

Let’s see the usual crowd of Brinton groupies including McGuire and Cooper defend this revelation, a desire for a $7 million profit for doing absolutely nothing but standing in the way of a better Wall Street and a better Norwalk.

Shameful.

Jason Milligan July 24, 2019 at 8:31 am

Btw,

Never once did I claim to be an Altruist!

I don’t believe in it. People that claim to be working for the greater good are the biggest liars.

I am a greedy self interested businessman that happens to be ideologically aligned with the Wall Street Stakeholders and the tax payers of Norwalk. I can be generous, but I never claim to be in this for charity.

Me and the people want the same things. Our incentives are aligned. I will also make money as Wall Street comes back. I will have earned it!

I do not ask for any special favors or more than I earn.

The $80 million Bailout boys on the other hand are dishonest to the core. A too big to fail bank claiming to be looking out for the community, right.

FC Bank caring about the community. That I believe, but it is for the same selfish reasons as me. It’s good for business. They also have people working at the bank that are the community. They live and work in it.

Citibank is in Manhattan.

McClutchy lives and works in Darien.

I don’t think they pay any taxes to Norwalk.

Jeff Hall July 24, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Mike Mushak: if you know an example of Mr. Milligan stealing from somebody, or cheating at anything, maybe you could let us all know, instead of making a smarmy “Lying, Cheating, and Stealing and Ripping Off Taxpayers” comment.

But you know perfectly well that the taxpayers DID get ripped off. They got ripped off when the Wall Street parking lot was sold for $1 by the city in a backroom deal. They got ripped off when productive businesses were seized by the city from private landowners for a fraction of their market value, and then sold to a well-connected developer who let the land sit idle for a decade. What had Milligan to do with any of that? Nothing, nothing, nothing.

Sid Welker July 24, 2019 at 2:07 pm

Jason, and you live in New Canaan? Read my past comments for the past year and you will see all along that I was spot on. I can see a leprechaun seeking his pot of gold from a mile away. Nothing wrong with a good business investment but blanketing a wolf in sheep’s clothing is what separates you. You are the so called “people” you fight against. Spin this one and blame Nancy some more why don’t you.

Jeff July 24, 2019 at 4:50 pm

So glad to see Norwalk official Mike Mushak taking time out of day to lump anyone and everyone who disagrees with him into one group and aligning them with Trump ideals in order to easily belittle them. Why didn’t you add a comment about border detention centers?

You’re calling out the lack of character of everyone else, but your posts show that you should consider your own character first.

Doesn’t city hall have a social media policy?

cc-rider July 24, 2019 at 8:03 pm

Sid- are you going to demonize all the teachers, police, and other city workers who chose not to live in Norwalk as well? A lot of us would chose to live in New Canaan than this horribly run town if it were somehow feasible.

Sid Welker July 25, 2019 at 3:19 pm

@CC, I was replying to Jason’s statement that the McClutchy family doesnt live in Norwalk nor do they pay Taxes in Norwalk. Hence my Milligan lives in New Canaan comment.

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