NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Politicians promised the property would never be sold to a drug treatment facility.
But months later, one resident learned, the deal was done anyway.
On Monday, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner demanded answers.
Steps from where elementary school children play residents fear will soon be a facility for drug users. That’s because last week one resident discovered 2500 Williamsbridge Road in the Bronx was quietly sold to CHI, the Carnegie Hill Institute, a drug treatment facility that already has a location on the Upper East Side.
Back in September, the organization told Community Board 11 it wanted “to operate a chemical dependence outpatient program” there. Leaders said there was no proof it was needed. Carnegie offered $1 million, but after a heated community board meeting the listing realty company, Exit Realty, and Councilman Mark Gjonaj told the following to residents:
“The deal is not going 1 million percent to the individual that some folks are saying it’s going,” Exit Realty owner Sonny Vataj said.
“Carnegie’s out, that’s it,” Councilman Gjonaj added.
But months later, the deed shows in February it was purchased for $925,000 cash by CHI LLC, which is run by Anna Marie Karkus, whose LinkedIn shows is also the executive director of Carnegie.
Vataj said the seller made a deal with Williamsbridge Road LLC and the name on the deed doesn’t match the name he has on his closing statements.
“What happened with the documents that they proposed to us and either fraudulently done this deal or someone didn’t do another transfer which they should have to pay the transfer taxes in the city,” Vataj said.
The seller’s attorney told Rozner by phone that she was under the impression the buyer was going to open a high-end spa, and had she known this was supposed to be a treatment center she never would’ve sold.
Records show the head of WilliamsbridgeRoad LLC is Anna M. Malagon of 27 Lotus Ave. in East Hampton, N.Y.
The owner of that property, though, is Karkus of Carnegie. So Rozner went to Carnegie’s Upper East Side location to demand answers.
Rozner was told Karkus is out of the country. Rosner then went to the Ridgewood, Queens office of lawyer Alma Mandija, who represents both Malagon and Karkus.
Rozner: “We’re doing a story about 2500 Williamsbridge Road …”
“I’m sorry. If it has to do with the client or the transaction that I handled as a lawyer I am not going to comment right now,” Mandija said.
Rozner: “What was the plan for the property? The listing agent is saying your client lied.”
The lawyer’s office door closed.
“We’re tired of being dumped on. The Bronx, it seems like it’s everybody in the city’s dumping ground,” community board member Dominick Schiano said. “We want to do whatever we can to prevent this place from opening. I’m just hoping it’s not too late.”
State Attorney General Letitia James declined to comment whether she’s investigating.
The state office that approves treatment facilities said it has not received an application at the Bronx address. A source close to the local councilman said litigation is in the works.