Deal Gives Kushners Cash Infusion on 666 Fifth Avenue

The deal, in which Brookfield paid the rent for the entire 99-year term upfront, helps remove the family’s biggest financial headache: a $1.4 billion mortgage on the office portion of the tower that was due in February next year.

.. The Kushners have spent more than two years on an international search for new partners or fresh financing that stretched from the Middle East to China.

The deal would enable the Kushners to pay off at least a large portion of what they owe lenders and retain ownership of the land beneath the tower. But they may not make any money from it.

.. Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, who now runs the company, in turn, negotiated with his lenders to pay less than the company owed to satisfy the debts, the executive said.

Analysts have long said that 666 Fifth was worth less than its debts. The building was 30 percent vacant and only generated about half the annual mortgage payments. In recent months, the building’s largest remaining tenant, Millennium Management, signaled that it too planned to leave.

.. Jared and Charles Kushner sold 666 Fifth’s most valuable asset — the Fifth Avenue retail space — for $525 million and used the proceeds to pay down some of their debt. But office rents continued to fall and two of the tower’s biggest tenants left.

.. In 2016, Charles and Jared Kushner pitched a new deal to investors in the United States and abroad: They would demolish the building and erect a $7.5 billion luxury supertower in its place. They got close to a deal with a billionaire from Qatar, Hamad Jassim Al-Thani, the country’s former prime minister, and with Anbang, a giant Chinese insurance company.

.. Mr. Kushner argued that 666 Fifth was not worth the $1.4 billion that was owed.

.. At 666 Fifth Avenue, Brookfield is betting on a turnaround based on the building’s premier location on Fifth Avenue, near Rockefeller Center and Central Park, and its access to public transportation. The company plans to spend about $700 million renovating the lobby, installing new elevators, refurbishing the vacant office space and attracting new tenants.

“666 Fifth Avenue has the potential to be one of New York City’s most iconic and successful office properties,” Ric Clark, chairman of Brookfield Property Group, said

.. Brookfield is one of the world’s biggest real estate companies, and among its investors is the Qatar Investment Authority, one of the world’s largest sovereign funds

..  That has raised questions given Jared Kushner’s portfolio in the White House, which includes the Middle East.

Brookfield has said that the Qataris had no knowledge of the deal before its public announcement.

Mueller Wants Trump’s Business Records. What’s the Russia Connection?

For more than 30 years, Mr. Trump has repeatedly sought to conduct business in Russia. He traveled to Moscow in 1987 to explore building a hotel. He applied for his trademark in the country as early as 1996. And his children and associates have met with Russian developers and government officials on multiple occasions in search of joint ventures.

.. But the company says nothing has come of it.

There Was a Moscow Hotel Deal in the Works During the Campaign

.. Perhaps the closest Mr. Trump came to launching a real estate project in Russia was during the presidential campaign, when he signed a letter of intent in late 2015 for a Trump hotel to be built in Moscow. Ultimately, the deal never materialized.

In email exchanges with Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater, a Russian émigré who had previously helped develop Trump SoHo in New York, talked about securing financing for the Moscow project from VTB, a major state-owned Russian bank under American sanctions. He also mused about how the deal, if supported by Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, would “fix relations between the countries by showing everyone that commerce & business are much better and more practical than politics.”

“I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Mr. Sater wrote in one of the emails.

.. Mr. Trump signed the letter of intent with Andrey Rozov, a developer of retail and residential projects in the Moscow region. If the deal went through, Mr. Trump would receive a $4 million upfront fee in exchange for licensing his name, and his company would manage the completed hotel.

.. By January 2016, the project seemed to have stalled. At one point, without success, Mr. Cohen emailed an aide to Mr. Putin seeking help jump-starting it.

.. Mr. Trump’s business opportunities in Russia got little traction until he took the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013.

.. The visit left an impression on Mr. Trump and had him contemplating future endeavors with the Agalarovs.

.. “I had a great weekend with you and your family,” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter in a message to Aras Agalarov. “You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next,” he wrote, before referring to Mr. Agalarov’s son, a pop star: “EMIN was WOW!”

In June 2016, a publicist for Emin Agalarov requested that Donald Trump Jr. meet with a Kremlin-connected lawyer. That meeting, at Trump Tower in New York, first reported by The New York Times last July, included other campaign officials and has been the subject of considerable scrutiny.

.. in a September 2015 interview on “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” he had made the Miss Universe pageant seem far more important.

“I called it my weekend in Moscow,” Mr. Trump said. “I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the-government people. I can’t go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary.”

.. Deutsche Bank, offered Mr. Trump more than $4 billion in loan commitments and potential bond offerings, a majority of which were completed, The Times reported last year.

.. the bank last year landed in legal trouble over Russian money laundering — paying more than $600 million in penalties to American and British regulators.

.. Some Deutsche Bank executives expect they will eventually have to produce records as part of Mr. Mueller’s inquiry

.. The bank has already been asked to turn over documents to federal prosecutors in Brooklyn about another client with a White House connection: the Kushner Companies

.. Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire oligarch, paid $95 million for Mr. Trump’s oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach, Fla

.. Mr. Trump sold the house less than four years after buying it for about $41 million. Mr. Rybolovlev paid the markup despite buying the property in 2008, at the height of the housing crisis. And Mr. Trump had made few improvements to the mansion, which reportedly had a mold problem.

.. Mr. Rybolovlev, moreover, never lived in the property.

.. At the time of the sale, Mr. Trump was facing financial pressure. He potentially owed Deutsche Bank $40 million after not paying off a loan for his Chicago hotel and tower.

.. James Dodson recounted a conversation he had had with Eric Trump in 2013 on a newly opened Trump golf course in Charlotte, N.C. Mr. Dodson said he had asked Mr. Trump about the company’s sources of funds, and Mr. Trump told him, “We have pretty much all the money we need from investors in Russia.”

.. In 2008, at a real estate conference in New York, Donald Trump Jr. said: “In terms of high-end product influx into the U.S., Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets, say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

How Jared Kushner built a luxury skyscraper using loans meant for job-starved areas

They worked with state officials in New Jersey to come up with a map that defined the area around 65 Bay Street as a swath of land that stretched nearly four miles and included some of the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods. At the same time, they excluded some wealthy neighborhoods only blocks away.

.. The tactic — critics liken it to the gerrymandering of legislative districts — made it appear that the luxury tower was in an area with extraordinarily high unemployment, allowing Kushner Companies and its partners to get $50 million in low-cost financing through the EB-5 visa program.

.. Apartments in the Bay Street building, marketed as Trump Bay Street, rent for up to $4,700 a month and offer sweeping views of Lower Manhattan. A nearby commuter train shuttles passengers to the World Trade Center within minutes. The area within a roughly three-block radius around the building had an unemployment rate of just 2.6 percent in 2015, according to census data.

..Under the EB-5 program, a wealthy foreigner can get a fast-track residence visa by investing at least $500,000 in a project in a “targeted employment area.”
..Kushner Companies, meanwhile, is rushing to raise $150 million in low-cost financing through EB-5 for a separate project in Jersey City: a pair of luxury towers in an area called Journal Square.
..He also said jobs created by the project could be filled by workers from the depressed areas only miles away.
..Developers typically pay only 4 to 8 percent interest annually on money raised through EB-5, experts said. Conventional financing can carry interest rates of between 12 and 18 percent.

Keeping Kushner would make Trump’s Russia nightmare permanent

are family ties keeping Kushner employed at the White House? Or is it Trump’s mounting sense of persecution and his reluctance to let an aggressive media push him around?

  1. First, Barack Obama was still president at the time; while it is normal for an incoming administration to have informal meet-and-greets with foreign officials, Kushner’s proposal was so inappropriate that Kislyak was said to be stunned.
  2. Second, the idea of using only Russian communications equipment for the proposed dialogue suggests the Trump administration had something to hide from U.S. intelligence agencies.
  3. Third, there is the obvious question of what Kushner wanted to talk about that couldn’t be discussed through existing channels.

The White House should thus be settling in for a long siege. The good news, from Trump’s point of view, is that his senior aides are discussing how to set up a “war room” to handle communications about the scandal

.. Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer, was caught on video trying to lure Beijing investors into participating in a Kushner Companies condominium project in New Jersey by holding out the prospect of immigration visas that could lead to permanent residence in the United States.

.. no communications strategy, however brilliant, has a chance of succeeding so long as Trump has access to his Twitter account.

The Beleaguered Tenants of ‘Kushnerville’

Tenants in more than a dozen Baltimore-area rental complexes complain about a property owner who they say leaves their homes in disrepair, humiliates late-paying renters and often sues them when they try to move out. Few of them know that their landlord is the president’s son-in-law.

.. That February — five years after she left Cove Village — Warren returned to court, this time with the housing form in hand, asking the judge to halt garnishment. “I am a single mom of three and my bank account was wiped clean by the plaintiff,” she pleaded in another handwritten request. “I cannot take care of my kids when they snatch all of my money out of my account. I do not feel I owe this money. Please have mercy on my family and I.” She told me that when she called the law office representing JK2 Westminster that same day from the courthouse to discuss the case, one of the lawyers told her: “This is not going to go away. You will pay us.”

.. “They know what to do, and here I am, I don’t know anything about the law. I would have to hire a lawyer or something, and I really can’t afford that. I really don’t know my rights. I don’t know all the court lingo. I knew that up against them I would lose.”

.. A search for “JK2 Westminster” in the database of Maryland’s District Court system brings back 548 cases

.. there is a clear pattern of Kushner Companies’ pursuing tenants over virtually any unpaid rent or broken lease — even in the numerous cases where the facts appear to be on the tenants’ side. Not only does the company file cases against them, it pursues the cases for as long as it takes to collect from the overmatched defendants — often several years. The court docket of JK2 Westminster’s case against Warren, for instance, spans more than three years and 112 actions — for a sum that amounts to maybe two days’ worth of billings for the average corporate law firm associate, from a woman who never even rented from JK2 Westminster.

.. Kushner Companies bought Dutch Village more than two years later.

.. after black mold worsened her son’s asthma, landing him in the hospital twice. After the maintenance crew tried and failed to fix the problem, she got the rental office’s written permission to move out in advance of her lease. But then Kushner Companies bought Carriage Hill, and a year and a half later, in August 2013, JK2 Westminster filed a lawsuit against Hough, seeking $4,068.53.

.. Brian Pendergraft, an attorney in Greenbelt, Maryland, who works on both sides of landlord-tenant litigation, told me he had heard of large property-management companies pursuing former tenants for unpaid rent but not going so far as to pursue tenants who predated the company’s ownership of a complex

.. there is a logic behind such aggressive tactics. The costs of the pursuit are not as high as you might imagine, he said — people are not that hard to find in the age of cellphones and easily accessible databases. “If I give my process server a name and phone number, it’s generally enough to trace you,” he said. “If I have a date of birth and Social Security number, it’s even easier.” The legal costs can be billed to the defendant as attorney’s fees, if the terms of the lease allow. And garnishing wages is relatively easy to do by court order, assuming the defendant has wages to garnish.

.. instill a sense of fear about violating a lease. “Any landlord takes that into account,” Hertz said. “They know tenants are going to talk to each other. If they say, ‘He’s going to come after you,’ it’s deterrence.”

When Kushner Companies finally responded to my questions about the cases, they essentially affirmed Hertz’s reasoning. As manager for the Baltimore complexes, the company had a “fiduciary obligation” to its ownership partners to collect as much revenue as it could, said Kushner Companies’ chief financial officer, Jennifer McLean, in a written response. She said the company’s legal costs have been “minimal” compared with what it seeks to recover.

.. The complex, like the others I saw, seemed designed to preclude neighborliness — most of the townhouses lack even the barest stoop to sit out on, and at least one complex has signs forbidding ball-playing (“violators will be prosecuted”). At another complex, kids had drawn a rectangle on the side of a storage shed in lieu of a hoop for their basketball game. The only meeting points at many of the complexes are the metal mailbox stands, the dumpsters and the laundry room. And the only thing that united many of the residents I spoke to, it seemed, was resentment of their landlord.

.. Westminster recently made paying the rent much more of a challenge. Last fall, it sent notice to residents saying that they could no longer pay by money order (on which many residents, who lack checking accounts, had relied) at the complex’s rental office and would instead need to go to a Walmart or Ace Cash Express and use an assigned “WIPS card” — a plastic card linked to the resident’s account — to pay their rent there. That method carries a $3.50 fee for every payment, and getting to the Walmart or Ace is difficult for the many residents without cars.

.. Tenants who pay after the fifth are hit with late fees that start around $40 to $50 and escalate from there, with court fees usually added on as well. What upsets residents most, though, are not the fees themselves but that the property managers, instead of putting pink or yellow late notices and court summonses discreetly in mailboxes or under doors, post them in public — on the front doors of townhouse units or on lobby walls or lobby doors of apartment buildings.

.. “They put them in the windows for everybody to see, to see your business. That’s not right. You don’t put people’s business out like that.”

.. she told me that Westminster staff had scolded her for speaking with me and told her not to do so again. A large black pickup followed me and a photographer as we walked through the complex until we left

.. He told me he voted for president for the first time ever last year — for Donald Trump. His vote, he said, was motivated by “the racial and police issues. How bad it got with Obama and how he seemed to promote the cop-bashing and the racial divide.” Did knowing that he was sending his late fees to Trump’s son-in-law change anything? “Yeah, actually,” he said. “As if they need any more money.”

.. Westminster had a lawyer from Tapper’s firm, Andrew Rabinowitz, at the April 25 hearing, which lasted more than three hours — all over less than $500. The next day Rabinowitz was back to defend Westminster against Silver’s criminal complaint over the unfounded eviction. This time, he was more accommodating, perhaps because he realized a reporter was present.

Kushner Cos. Pushes Investor Visas to Wealthy Chinese in Skyscraper Pitch

Trump adviser’s sister leading campaign for investors in $1 billion U.S. project, offering chance of green card

 New York property developer Kushner Cos. launched a weekend marketing campaign for a New Jersey development, targeting major Chinese cities for wealthy individuals to invest a combined $150 million for the chance to secure U.S. immigration rights.The developer, owned by the family of Trump administration senior adviser Jared Kushner, is trying to draw investment into twin 66-floor commercial-and-residential towers called One Journal Square that would cost almost $1 billion to build, according to marketing materials. Up to 300 individuals who put $500,000 each into the project could be eligible for green cards under a U.S. investment-for-immigration program called EB-5, the materials said.

The China marketing push, being led by Mr. Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer, began in Beijing on Saturday and shifted to Shanghai on Sunday.