published on
2 April, 2019

New Haven strip club continues to fight eviction
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NEW HAVEN -- No they didn't post a $2.45 million bond. And yes, there is another appeal.

The legal effort to evict Scores, a strip club, to make way for 130 units of affordable housing at the long-shuttered clock factory on Hamilton Street, has been delayed again with a motion filed with the Appellate Court.

Attorney Anthony Dicrosta, who represents Funn House Productions LLC, the holding company that owns Scores and is a tenant at the former factory, is arguing that the bond and the five days to find the money was unreasonable.

If the court agrees, the bond and timeframe could be sent back to the Housing Court for a new bond amount.

Taom Heritage New Haven LLC has been trying to evict the club since July 2018, arguing that the lease held by Scores had lapsed based on documents provided by the former owners, TSJ Inc.

Taom Heritage is the holding company for Reed Community Partners of Portland, Ore., which bought the 130,000-square-foot contaminated factory and lined up a complex list of funders which included federal, state and city money.

Reed won the eviction argument before Superior Court Judge John Cordani, who ruled on Feb. 15 that Scores had to get out by the end of March.

That was halted when Dicrosta filed an appeal argung that a verbal extension of the lease by three years by another member of the family represented by TSJ Inc. remained in effect, causing Cordani to issue a stay of his eviction ruling.

The validity of the oral agreement is one of the things the Appellate Court would look at, when and if that question advances.

While Cordani would not lift the stay, as requested by Reed, which specializes in these kinds of reclaimation projects, but he did order the high bond as a way to provide some relief for Reed if it ultimately prevails in an appeal of eviction issue.

The argument on the bond and the timeframe for posting it is a simpler question for the court, but it again delays the housing project, which would transform that part of the city and add to the affordable housing stock.

Josh Blevins, director of historic redevelopment and government affairs at Reed, told the court, in a story in the New Haven Independent, that there is a 50 percent chance that the whole project will collapse if these delays continue, as the environmental grants are time sensitive.

"Once they go away, they don't come back," Blevins had said previously.

Dicrosta argued the high bond renders "the appeal moot" and denies "their right to appeal."

"The unreasonable and excess amount of the bond ordered is not supported by the facts of this case nor the evidence presented at hearing. Mandating that a surety bond of such staffering proportion be posted within an arbitrarily chosen five-day period of time insures defendant's noncompliance with its orders," Dicrosta wrote.

He said Scores takes up less than 10 percent of the factory complex, but the $2.45 million covers the developers' "entire carrying costs," which he said was "fundamentally unfair."

Reed Community Partners officials have said that they can't proceed with the cleanup with a tenant still in the building and to pass federal scrutiny it has to be remediated 100 percent. They have accused Scores of filing appeals to simply drag out its tenancy. Scores has also filed for bankruptcy under Chapeter 11.

The developers have also explained in the numerous hearings and negotiations with the city on the property that traditional financing is not available for this kind of remediation.

Dicrosta, who represents Peter Forchetti, the owner of Scores, said his client has put $480,000 into upgrading the strip club based on the oral assurance that his lease could continue.

For Reed Community Partners the cost of the undertaking is $38 million, a project it estimates has so far cost them some $5 million.

On the amount of the bond, "it would not be a stretch to think even President Trump would be incapable of complying with the posting of a bond of such staggering amount within a five-day period," Dicrosta wrote.

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