Antares' Stamford gamble

Full story: Stamford Advocate

For more than four decades, the South End had been Stamford's last undeveloped frontier.
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Vox Pop

Waterbury, CT

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#1
Aug 24, 2009
 

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History, not news.

Anyone wondering yet how over-extended B&LT is? Add to that its fat list of vacancies. They cost, but don't pay rent.
Confused

New York, NY

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#2
Aug 24, 2009
 
Shouldn't this story have been written six months ago?
Annie Mae

Medford, MA

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#3
Aug 24, 2009
 

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The reason this article was not written six months ago is because the Antares guys knew it was coming so threatened to sue if it was ever published. It's taken this long to have it published. These guys are bad news, they put the houses they live in in their wive's names as a means of protecting themselves. The houses should go back to the investors and Cabrera and Beninati should go live in one of their ill-fated condominiums. This is what happens when new money starts behaving badly. They are the epitome of bad taste and should be run out of town.
Publius

AOL

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#4
Aug 24, 2009
 
Confused wrote:
Shouldn't this story have been written six months ago?
As Vox says, this is history, not news. As such, it can be instructive in pointing out how easily people can be manipulated by expensive presentations and fanciful dreams. And by "people", i include: city officials, neighborhood supporters, and especially Wall St. investment bankers.

Now that the Advocate/Time has described in such detail how the Wizard was just a small man behind a screen, I am absolutely sure it will never happen again, and from now on every real estate proposal will be thoroughly examined and analyzed before investors put money into it, and before government officials expedite it through the land use process without getting answers to hard questions.

I am absolutely sure of that.....it will never happen again. right, Vox?
Vox Pop

Waterbury, CT

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#5
Aug 24, 2009
 
Annie Mae wrote:
The reason this article was not written six months ago is because the Antares guys knew it was coming so threatened to sue if it was ever published. It's taken this long to have it published. These guys are bad news, they put the houses they live in in their wive's names as a means of protecting themselves. The houses should go back to the investors and Cabrera and Beninati should go live in one of their ill-fated condominiums. This is what happens when new money starts behaving badly. They are the epitome of bad taste and should be run out of town.
Tar, feathers, anyone?
Stamford Res

Greenwich, CT

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#6
Aug 24, 2009
 
I have read all the comments from others, most negative but some claiming that the Antares guys were unfairly getting beat up and that part of their downfall was due to the economy.

The founders of Antares guys were bad guys, period. Actually I understand Jim was a fairly good guy but allowed his partner-in-crime, Joe Beninati to run the show so he is guilty by association. Beninati was willing to do any and everything to be succesful and that included lying, screwing anyone over he needed to and spending other people's money loosely. Beninati was/is a bad business man and not very intelligent (average at best I am told).

I am shocked that the reporters did not dig deeper into his background to learn that he bk'd at least one other company (Greeniwch Technology Partners), and possibly one other I am told. Jim allowed Joe to run unchecked and therefore Joe had no one watching over him to tell him he was an idiot.

Joe's case is a classic situation of what happens when you use other peoples money (I am told they had close to zero of their own money invested, as they syndicated all of the partnership money to high net worth guys)- you except them to best it all on one number. If they win, they make out like bandits, if they lose it ain't their money...

If you run one company into the ground then maybe it is just a case of bad timing, but if you run 2 or 3 well, that ain't an accident. They "guys" (and in particular Beninati had a deep desire to be accepted in the high net worth crowd and made sure people knew about it...Bentley, 20k sq ft house (he named it, come on...), high rolling in Vegas with private jets, claiming he was a big owner of Polpo ( I am told he owns something like 1/4 of 1% of the place).

Authors: What about the company's ties to the State of New Mexico and Northstar, what is going on with the UST building in Greenwich, what is left of their empire...tell us.

I really have no axe to grind with these guys, they never made or lost me money but please don't let anyone tell you that they are just a victim of the market...they are lucky in that it happened at the same time the market starting turning down but their fate was written on the wall indepedent of the market... they made bad mistakes because they ain't that smart (beninati, I am told, was not even a real estate guy and couldn't tell you what a gross lease was versus a net lease let alone what a capitalization rate was). That mansion in their backyard I am told was sold a year ago for around $11 mm at a loss of around $15 mm. nice work.
Vox Pop

Waterbury, CT

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#7
Aug 24, 2009
 

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Then there's Stamford's role in the Harbor Point project.
From the outset I and others expressed concern over all the city's eggs being in one basket - not a good idea in any market - and over the absence of mandated staging.

So, now we have a special taxing district in place for a project that has ground to a virtual halt, has lost a commercial lease commitment, and may only produce a new supermarket in the short run.(Not that a new supermarket is a bad thing.)

Yet, all the city's eggs are in B&LT's basket now, and we should be keeping a close eye on that.
Just like Antares, B&LT went on an acquisition spree, and must produce income in a soft market - a daunting task.
Starter1

Greenwich, CT

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#8
Aug 24, 2009
 

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What is the latest on the Harbor Pt./BLT project? I heard the main principal of BLT, Kuehner, put up somthing like $100 mm and teamed up with Lubert Adler. BLT's claim is that he was building right through the weak market.

And anyone know what is happening with 100 West Putnam? Is Antares involved still or have the creditors taken over? Rumor has it that there is another group involved that Joe and Jim reported to, Northstar, who were managing money on behalf of a state pension fund. I bet if Antares is still involved they are merely property managers. Can't be any team left though. Personal bankruptcy must be coming soon...
Steve

New York, NY

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#9
Aug 24, 2009
 
Everyone seems to forget that that City of Stamford is making out in this situation. Antares (aka BLT) funding the development of new utilities/roadways and parks. At least the public amenities will be taken care of. This was a requirement of the development imposed by the City. I suspect that the property will be sold to another developer to carry the debt of a failing company.
Cecelia

South Britain, CT

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#10
Aug 24, 2009
 
Wow the South End is now looking more like the South Bronx, you know where all the vacant lots are, That's very charming......Thanks for nothing, thanks for tearing our neighborhoood up and leaving.......
Concerned Stamfordite

Stamford, CT

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#11
Aug 24, 2009
 

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Cabrera and Beninati their families and MOST of the Antares executives gave tons of contributions to Dan Malloy's campaigns, and where did it get them?- Well, we know where it got them that special taxing district infrastructure paid by city bonds and tons of zoning changes and variances to get this project started. In addition to Antares folks, Lubert-Adler and B&LT employees and their families also made tons of contributions to Malloy's campaigns. THIS SMELLS REALLY FOUL!
former res

Broomall, PA

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#12
Aug 24, 2009
 

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Yes, this is a feature story rather than a news story. And it's interesting too.

As was the New Yorker article of last year (the thread that included this reference was deleted).

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/08/25...

James is the younger brother of Joe Cabrera.

http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/...
Vox Pop

Waterbury, CT

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#13
Aug 24, 2009
 
Steve wrote:
Everyone seems to forget that that City of Stamford is making out in this situation. Antares (aka BLT) funding the development of new utilities/roadways and parks. At least the public amenities will be taken care of. This was a requirement of the development imposed by the City. I suspect that the property will be sold to another developer to carry the debt of a failing company.
The equation was hardly balanced. Let's leave it at that.
Publius

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#14
Aug 24, 2009
 

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Vox Pop wrote:
Then there's Stamford's role in the Harbor Point project.
From the outset I and others expressed concern over all the city's eggs being in one basket - not a good idea in any market - and over the absence of mandated staging.
So, now we have a special taxing district in place for a project that has ground to a virtual halt, has lost a commercial lease commitment, and may only produce a new supermarket in the short run.(Not that a new supermarket is a bad thing.)
Yet, all the city's eggs are in B&LT's basket now, and we should be keeping a close eye on that.
Just like Antares, B&LT went on an acquisition spree, and must produce income in a soft market - a daunting task.
Welll...not quite. What eggs? What basket? The 82 acres of redevelopment Antares proposed had limited tax receipts on obsolete buildings. The P-B buildings had recently been abandoned; Yale & Towne, as it turned out, was a fire waiting to happen (not Antares' fault); and the old Helco property was empty for many years. The fact is that two of those properties have been on the market for decades and had several substantial projects proposed that were never built.

Instead, there are two office buildings nearing completion, one large multi-family residence building nearing completion, and a supermarket well on its way. I also note that in anticipation of a South End renewal, the storefronts along Canal St. have been improved considerably. That is considerably more than Arthur Collins and Sam Heyman ever produced.

The Urban Transitway is completed in the South End and significantly dresses up what was a rabbit warren of oddly located tiny streets.

What Antares did accomplish was to get the three largest properties in the South End into one ownership and one master development plan. That is no small accomplishment. Yes, the buildout will probably take a lot longer than originally proposed, but it is hard to see much loss here compared to what was there before. 10% of a huge project is far better than 0% of several smaller ones.

I don't know what financial arrangement B&LT made with Antares' financiers, but they probably bought in at a considerably reduced price, and were saved the considerable time and expense of developing a plan that could pass the land use process.

No, Antares does not walk away in victory laurels; no question about that. But overall, my perspective is that Stamford is better off than it was without them. Eventually, the economy will recover, and B&LT will be able to market their buildings and build more.
Vox Pop

Waterbury, CT

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#16
Aug 24, 2009
 
Publius,
No question Antares over came the inertia of Collins and Heyman.
And, while assembling the properties may be the golden egg eventually, it was a good part of Antares' undoing.
I would still prefer seeing B&LT bring in other assets/developers to move this along. I do not agree with you on the rate of progress being made overall. It looks like they've slowed down, with fewer workers on site around Washington Boulevard. However, other proeprty owners are starting to make improvements.
Yet, I do hear misgivings that B&LT is over-extended. If it can keep the backing coming, B&LT should be ok. But, in today's world, that's a BIG if.
Publius

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#17
Aug 24, 2009
 
Vox Pop wrote:
Publius,
No question Antares over came the inertia of Collins and Heyman.
And, while assembling the properties may be the golden egg eventually, it was a good part of Antares' undoing.
I would still prefer seeing B&LT bring in other assets/developers to move this along. I do not agree with you on the rate of progress being made overall. It looks like they've slowed down, with fewer workers on site around Washington Boulevard. However, other proeprty owners are starting to make improvements.
Yet, I do hear misgivings that B&LT is over-extended. If it can keep the backing coming, B&LT should be ok. But, in today's world, that's a BIG if.
Antares never planned to develop the sites themselves. Their plan was always to sell off the development rights to other developers, and the zoning was designed for that.

But i'm not sure bringing in other developers at this time makes much difference. There is limited economic capacity to absorb that much new housing at once, and the big box retail component doesn't look too good either. Splitting the exposure among several developers doesn't address the problem of a very soft market. They would just be competing with each other, like Trump and Highgrove.

The big question hanging in the air right now is the renovation of the two old mill buildings at Yale & Towne. They were scheduled to be in the first wave of development along with the supermarket. Right now they look pretty scary. At the least, they need to be better secured before the supermarket opens and people are walking around that area.

It will also be interesting to see if the project is eventually built out according to the plan. Antares received HUGE increases in density to enable their total plan. Will B&LT come back for even more because the project is so expensive? Will they seek more commercial development? will they build a high quality park and other amenities? Will the waterfront development work if the office buildings are empty and the hotel site is unfinished? Lots of questions.
Publius

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#18
Aug 24, 2009
 
The Banned One wrote:
OMG, now there will be no use for the HOV lanes that go for two blicks
<G> I noticed that. I thought it was the black diamond course.
Tony E Neuman

Meriden, CT

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#19
Aug 24, 2009
 
former res wrote:
(the thread that included this reference was deleted).
they must still have some pull
Wow

Centereach, NY

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#20
Aug 24, 2009
 

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You should see the set of implants Beninati bought his wife.VERY impressive!!!
HP is a Joke

Elmhurst, NY

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#21
Aug 24, 2009
 

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The entire South End project is a total joke at this point. It's way too long and construction financing is impossible to line-up. There are two empty office buildings (that won't get leased any time soon at the rents needed for ownership to break even), a high-rise apartment building going up (no demand for that product any time soon) and two crappy loft apartment conversions underway. The investors in that project will all experience a total flush of their equity and some vulture will swoop in and pick the project up for pennies on the dollar within the next 18 months.

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