Esplanade Owner Agrees to Pay More Than $528,000 to Displaced Seniors
John Jordan | July 28, 2016
WHITE PLAINS—The ownership of the Esplanade Senior Residences of White Plains has agreed to pay more than $528,000 to 139 elderly residents who were allegedly forced from their homes to make way for the development of a luxury rental apartment development there.
New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the settlement agreement on July 27th between the state and Esplanade of White Plains Venture Partnership, L.P. and White Plains Hotel, L.P., the owners of the Esplanade Senior Residences located at 95 South Broadway and 10 Lyon Place in Downtown White Plains.
The Esplanade ownership secured approval from the City Council of White Plains in early April to move forward on a $35-milion project to undertake an adaptive-reuse project that will convert the senior residence into a 212-unit rental apartment development. They are slated to be 146 units in the main 15-story tower and 66 in the adjoining annex. The project also entails approximately 9,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space for public use on South Broadway, which will replace existing retail space. Also, approximately 9,000 square feet of medical office space currently in the 4 Lyon Place Annex will be split between the two buildings.
In November 2015, the Attorney General stated that the Esplanade owners sent a letter notifying all residents that a “multi-year complete overhaul” of the facility was planned, and that the “enormous level of construction will make it necessary to vacate the building.” The letter was sent in connection with the owners’ plan to repurpose the building from a senior residence to luxury rental apartments that were not restricted to seniors.
Although the plan to vacate and renovate the building was in the works since 2014, the Esplanade owners continued renting apartments to senior citizens—without informing them of the plan, the Attorney General charged. Some residents moved in just weeks before the November 2015 notification was sent.
Attorney General Schneiderman stated that his office launched an inquiry after receiving complaints from Esplanade residents who were “heartbroken and upset when they learned that they would have to move out.” The Attorney General stated in a press announcement, “Residents who moved to the Esplanade in 2014 and 2015 were especially angry that the Esplanade owners had not revealed their plan to repurpose the building. These residents, some of whom chose the Esplanade to be close to their children and grandchildren, believed that they would never have to move again—let alone within such a short time after having moved in.”
In addition to agreeing to make payments to residents who moved in during 2014 and 2015, the Esplanade owners agreed to make smaller payments to residents who moved in earlier. All 139 residents as of November 2015 will receive some payment. A spokesman for the ownership of the Esplanade told Real Estate In-Depth that there are currently only two residents that remain of the 145 that resided at the Esplanade at some point last November.
Under the agreement obtained by the Attorney General’s Office, the Esplanade owners will pay $6,500 to each of the 60 residents who moved into the facility during 2014 and 2015, $3,250 to each of the 27 residents who moved in during 2013, and $1,250 to each of the 52 residents who moved in prior to 2013. Payment will be made within 30 days, the Attorney General stated.
Before executing the agreement with the Attorney General’s Office, the Esplanade owners had made payments totaling $14,382.50 to certain residents as reimbursement or partial reimbursement for moving expenses. Those payments will be deducted from the amount those residents will receive pursuant to the agreement. The total amount Esplanade will pay its residents pursuant to the agreement is $528,367.50, the Attorney General’s office stated.
“By failing to inform potential residents of their plan to vacate and repurpose the building, the Esplanade owners caused many seniors to suffer undue and unnecessary stress, hardship and expense,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This agreement will help the residents cover some of the expenses they incurred in having to make an unanticipated move from a facility where they expected to live out their remaining years.”
The ownership of the Esplanade released a statement in response to the settlement announcement to Real Estate In-Depth. The firms stated, “The AG contacted us to discuss the closure. We cooperated fully. No investigation was commenced, and there is no allegation that we acted in any way in contradiction to law or violated any right of any senior. No resident was ‘forced out.’ In fact, we have never even asked a senior to leave, and we have never given a formal notice to terminate any senior’s tenancy.”
The statement continued, “As a result of discussions with the AG, we voluntarily agreed to make payments to the seniors to assist them in their relocation. No fine or penalty is being assessed nor was one ever demanded by the AG. We are comfortable with this result.”
Photo Caption: A rendering of the redeveloped Esplanade in Downtown White Plains.