An old warehouse has been razed and tons of bricks have been removed in preparation for the groundbreaking for the Enclave at Fleetwood, but a recent court case could cloud the ceremony.
Last month Peter F. Gaito Architecture of White Plains sued Enclave Equities in Purchase and its president, Michael Goldberg, for $25 million.
Gaito said he identified 645 N. MacQuesten Parkway in Mount Vernon as a potentially lucrative site for housing. He persuaded Goldberg to develop it but since then, he said, he has been frozen out of the deal.
“If done properly,” according to the lawsuit filed in Westchester Supreme Court, the property can reap “tens of millions of dollars.”
“He is a disgruntled partner,” responded Sam Mermelstein, Enclave’s vice president of development. “There is no reason for the lawsuit.”
Enclave at Fleetwood will consist of two 5-story buildings with market-rate apartments, one block away from Metro-North Railroad’s Fleetwood station.
The $44 million project also includes a cluster of low-rise apartments at 525 N. MacQuesten Parkway that are not part of the lawsuit.
The apartments are smaller than typical one- and two- bedroom units to appeal to young professionals without children.
Gaito said the building at 645 N. MacQuesten will have half as many apartments as originally intended, thus diminishing the potential profitability.
He discovered the site in 2004, he said, and recognized “a huge financial upside” if it were developed for a 140-unit high-rise building with either condominiums or market-rate apartments.
He acquired rights to purchase the site from PDJ Simone Realty and alerted Goldberg. They formed 645 Mac Realty LLC to acquire and develop the property.
Their company bought the property in 2006 from Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co.
Gaito and Goldberg had drawn up an operating agreement that allocated 75 percent of Mac Realty to Goldberg and 25 percent to Gaito. Gaito’s contribution was to procure city approvals and provide all architectural services at no charge to the partnership.
Gaito said Goldberg agreed to get his written consent if Goldberg tried to sell the property before the approval process was completed.
Not much happened for several years. Then in 2012, Goldberg formed 645 Mac-1 Realty LLC. Gaito said he was unaware of Mac-1.
Then, he said, Goldberg refused to permit him to obtain zoning approvals. When they met to discuss matters, Gaito claims, Goldberg said he wanted the architect out of the project, didn’t want anything to do with him and did not want to ever see him again.
Gaito claims Goldberg pointed a finger in his face “and said in substance that Gaito had better back off or Goldberg would ruin him. Goldberg stated that Gaito would never work again and that his kids and grandkids would suffer.”
The time and place of the alleged confrontation are not disclosed in the lawsuit.
Last December, Goldberg transferred the property from Mac to Mac-1. Gaito said he was not informed of the transaction. He learned from news accounts in February that Enclave Equities was developing 645 N. MacQuesten and he discovered the transfer.
He sids he demanded that Mac-1 transfer the property back to Mac. In July, the property was transferred.
Even so, Gaito said, title to the property is clouded because of an illegal and improper transfer. He says Goldberg has also made it impracticable to carry on the company’s business.
Gaito is asking the court to dissolve the company and put the property in a trust so that it can be sold and the assets distributed according to the terms of the operating agreement.
He also is suing for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, waste and mismanagement, tortuous interference and fraudulent conveyance, for which he is demanding at least $25 million in damages.
“We will resolve this soon,” Mermelstein said.