The developer who won the right to redevelop the World Trade Center appears to be within striking distance of resolving a lawsuit brought by a Florida developer that has held up the project since March 2015.Are we really about to find out who Two Canal Street Investors actually is? We've been waiting for so long, I thought we'd never get here. What if it's nobody.
Orleans District Court Judge Tiffany Chase on Thursday (Oct. 20) set a trial for the lawsuit to begin on Nov. 21, which was considered a victory for Cambridge, Mass.-based Carpenter and Co. and New Orleans-based Woodward Interests. The two companies are planning a $360 million, 350-room Four Seasons with 76 hotel-serviced condos, and have been trying for months to get a trial date set to avoid further delays in the case.
The lawsuit has halted what had been steady progress for the city to complete a redevelopment deal after choosing Carpenter and Woodward from a competitive bid process. There had been questions from the start over whether Two Canal Street Investors could obtain financing; the lawsuit was filed questioning the selection process.
But the winning developers could have a chance to resolve the lawsuit before the trial date. Chase also set a hearing for Nov. 7 to determine whether the plaintiff, Two Canal Street Investors, still has legal standing to continue litigating at trial. In a series of bizarre developments that played out in court on Thursday, Chase allowed the Two Canal Street Investors' attorneys to withdraw from the case, and reviewed documents that raised questions about whether the company even exists and the person behind it.
The questions came up after the resignation earlier this month of Stuart "Neil" Fisher, a Florida real estate investor, who had been the face of Two Canal Street Investors. But Chase was told Thursday that a new, mysterious overseas investor has taken over for Fisher.Holy shit what if it's Putin! Guess we'll check back on November 7. One day before Election Day. Surely this is just a coincidence.
Update: Was in a hurry when I posted this so I forgot to mention one thing. A clear sign that everyone thinks this is finally the endgame to the lawsuit is the mayor's decision to account for it in his budget proposal.
The city is also expecting increased revenue from several other sources. Property tax collections came in about $4.4 million higher than originally expected in 2016. About $2 million is expected from permits and fees once the World Trade Center Redevelopment begins. And about $1 million is expected from sales taxes at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome due to a change in state law this year.Could also be BS just like the rest of the budget. But it at least reflects confidence on their part.