The NY Times looks into 17-year old vacant property bet that has become a financially profitable housing deal for Bronx political fixer Stanley Kalmon Schlein and his two partners. After laying out the lack of oversight by city agencies, Schlein untouchable status and his direct ties to Mayor Bloomberg, the reporter feigns ignorance about how Schlein and company managed to keep control of an undeveloped but desirable parcel of land. Perhaps, even the Gray Lady is afraid of Mr. Schlein.
The city Department of Housing Preservation and Development gave Mr. Schlein and his partners exclusive rights to develop the lot, at Prospect Avenue, Southern Boulevard and 149th Street. This was reported by Sean Carlson in The Mott Haven Herald in August.
These men retained the development rights — for which they paid nothing — even as Michael R. Bloomberg became mayor, one year bled into another and the site remained a graffiti-covered eyesore. Since the lot was city-owned, the men paid not a penny in property taxes on it.
By 2005, city officials were regularly sending letters to “Messrs. Perez and Schlein” each December, sometimes signed by the department’s commissioner. We are “pleased to inform you that H.P.D. is prepared to enter into exclusive negotiations,” and so on and on.
This tale could soon end, as the city plans to break ground on a mixed-income residential and commercial development on this site. Douglaston Partners, a large developer, will handle the construction and marketing of what will be known as Crossroads Plaza.
And Mr. Schlein and his friends, who are listed as partners of Douglaston, stand to make a nice little bundle, all for placing dibs 17 years ago on a vacant city-owned lot. Neither Mr. Schlein nor his partners returned phone calls requesting interviews. Douglaston also declined to comment.