Members of the Throggs Neck Strong Coalition are in the process of writing a ‘memorandum of understanding’ for 2800 Bruckner Boulevard.
The building has been a lighting rod of controversy as commercial tenants have faced eviction even with long-term leases, and the purported new owner of the building, Michael Fernandes and his company Steward Redevelopment, has been unclear concerning plans for the building.
The coalition, elected officials and tenants met with Michael Fernandes at Throggs Neck Strong coalition chairman’s Steven Kaufman’s office on Thursday, August 17 for a two and a half hour dialogue, said Kaufman.
The negotiations between the coalition, specifically created to deal with 2800 Bruckner Boulevard, and Fernandes are at a sensitive juncture.
“The was an extensive give and take between us and Michael Fernandes,” said Kaufman. “People were airing every concern that they had, he was trying to answer them.”
At the end of the meeting, Kaufman said that TNS and those present suggested that they draft a memorandum of understanding for Fernandes to sign.
MOUs don’t have the force of law but could be used later in a legal proceeding if necessary.
“He will in a letter, hopefully, agree to what we expect to have in the building,” said Kaufman.
TNS co-chairman Bob Jaen said the stipulations, which are still being developed, include that the current renters in the building can stay, that there will be no homeless shelter or transient housing for addiction related services, and that a future use will be services for autistic children.
“We understand that the community is looking for answers, but at this time, we are in a negotiation-type atmosphere,” said Jaen.
At the meeting, Fernandes said he was working with two health-related entities, Advantage Care Physicians and Advocate Care Community Partners, but elected officials checked with both groups, and they have denied any affiliation to the building or to Steward Redevelopment.
In a joint statement, Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj called on Fernandes to reveal his plans.
“It came to our attention that Michael Fernandes, the ‘owner’ of 2800 Bruckner (Boulevard), indicated that he would be opening social service offices with reimbursement coming through his partnership with ACP, a Medicaid service provider,” the statement read. “Since Medicaid is a state-run program, we immediately looked into his claims.”
A spokeswoman for Advocate Care Community Partners denied any involvement.
“We are not affiliated in any way with Mr. Fernandes, Steward Redevelopment (or) 2800 Bruckner (Boulevard),” said Cindy Goff, an Emblem Health vice president on behalf of ACCP, explaining that Fernandes used the acronym at the meeting.
Alexandro Damiron, Advantage Care Physicians chief of staff, said any claims of their involvement are totally false.
“ACP has nothing to do with this property or anything with Michael Fernandes,” he stated.
The electeds asked: “so we ask again Mr. Fernandes — what are you planning to do with 2800 Bruckner and why won’t you come before Community Board 10 with your real plans?”
Steward Redevelopment, is a known developer of supportive housing.
Fernandes, who introduced himself first to tenants as a co-owner of the building, said he is now the building’s sole owner in previously published Bronx Times article.
Michael D’Alessio, a local developer, built 2800 Bruckner Boulevard.