The realty office that sold the highly controversial site of a proposed methadone clinic in Pelham Parkway North claims the purchaser applied deception to acquire a Williamsbridge Road property.
On Thursday, March 12, Sonny Vataj, principle of Exit Realty, held a press conference announcing the release of public documents that detailed the buyer’s controversial purchase of 2500 Williamsbridge Road.
In November 2019, Councilman Mark Gjonaj, Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez and Community Board 11 held a raucous town hall where nearly 1,000 people expressed displeasure with a methadone clinic coming to the community, specifically because of its close proximity to P.S. 89.
However, on Monday, February 17, Carnegie Hill Institute purchased the brick one-story property for $925,000 from Florence Klapper, a Manhattan resident, $75,000 less than the original asking price, under an alias.
“Why were we lied to?” Vataj exclaimed. “Why was the community deceived?”
Vataj urged everyone to contact the attorney general and OASAS (Office of Addiction Services and Support) to block Carnegie Hill Institute’s licensce application.
Vataj, who has operated the realty on Allerton Avenue for 20 years, hoped to bring transparency to the community. With residents, activists and business owners on hand, he explained how the sale transpired.
On May 1, 2019 Exit Realty listed 2500 Williamsbridge Road for sale with a $1 million asking price. There were multiple offers, including Carnegie Hill. A week later CHI went to Community Board 11 to announce its intent to use the property as a methadone clinic and was met with opposition. The seller rejected the offer.
It was then relisted on the market October 18, 2019 and an offer was accepted for $925,000. WBRD LLC was the listed buyer, but six months later the property was flipped to CHI, according to an ACRYS filing.
While residents commended Vataj for releasing the documents, their outrage was not assuaged. Community Board 11 chairman Al D’Angelo feels the community has been betrayed. He’s convinced fraud took place and hopes the NYS attorney general looks into the matter.
“Obviously this is something I would consider illegal,” he said. “CHI should never be allowed in this community again.”
Allerton Homeowners and Tenants Association President Sal Castorino is furious with Carnegie Hill’s deception, but fully supports Vataj. Sal, a lifelong resident of the area, attended P.S. 89, which is across the street from the planned clinic.
“We don’t like the idea that these people tried to sneak into our community with a drug place a few blocks from a school and church,” he said. “We don’t need that.”
Community activist Irene Estrada, who organized two rallies against the clinic on March 5 and March 10, praised Vataj for holding the press conference, but was incensed by CHI’s trickery.
She called the sales contract a fraud and asked where are the elected officials and how did they not know about this.
“People don’t trust politicians anymore, she exclaimed. “We’re tired of being deceived. Our concern is that regardless of how this happened everyone needs to stand up and fight with me.”