Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Leslie Bridgers firstname.lastname@example.org
The Westbrook development company behind an ambitious proposal to build a high-end retail, office and recreation complex near the Maine Turnpike owes nearly $2.5 million to its mortgage holder and other creditors, court documents say.
File photo/The Portland Press Herald
Jason Snyder, who owns the largest portion of the company, refuses to sell the 60-acre site of the proposed Stroudwater Place development to pay off the mounting debt, according to a complaint filed in court by his business partners.
The son and the trustee of the late New York developer Arthur Emil, who died last year, are seeking to dissolve the corporation Emil formed with Snyder because they disagree about the direction of the company, called 500 Westbrook LLC.
David Emil and Oded Aboodi, a New York businessmen who respectively control the estate and trust of Arthur Emil, each own 10 percent of the company. Snyder owns the rest.
Emil, who twice has proposed selling the Westbrook property, claims he has been "frozen out" of the company's management in violation of its operating agreement and is in a "deadlock" with Snyder over the direction of the company, according to court documents.
George Marcus, Snyder's attorney, said he disagrees that there's a deadlock among the managers and plans to answer the complaint, which was filed last month in Cumberland County Superior Court.
Snyder, son of Portland developer Arthur Snyder, and Arthur Emil, who owned the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center, proposed in 2008 to build a 1.65-million-square-foot office, retail and recreational development on Snyder's land off Stroudwater Street.
Snyder said at the time that the $300 million project would bring 5,000 permanent jobs to the city and would become its biggest taxpayer.
After months of public meetings, the Westbrook City Council approved a zoning change required for the project to move forward. Snyder said he would build the development in phases over a 10-year period, but he never brought a site plan to the Planning Board for review.
Last year, Snyder proposed building, in conjunction with Stroudwater Place, an $85 million, 8,000-seat sports arena that would be home to the Portland Pirates AHL hockey team on either a 63-acre site in Portland or a 60-acre site in Westbrook between turnpike exits 46 and 47. As part of the plan, the aging Cumberland County Civic Center would have been converted to a convention center. Trustees for the civic center opted instead for a $33 million renovation of the existing building, which county voters will decide whether to fund on Nov. 8.
The operating agreement for 500 Westbrook LLC says the company "was formed to acquire, develop, finance, lease, manage, operate and sell" the Westbrook property. According to the complaint, those efforts have been "wholly unsuccessful."
In addition, the company has defaulted on its mortgage and owes $1.9 million to lender Kimco Capital Corp., according to a judgment of foreclosure granted in Cumberland County Superior Court in August. The company has appealed that judgment to Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
The city of Westbrook placed a municipal lien on the Stroudwater Street property in July. According to city records, the company owes $3,580 in property taxes.
The complaint says Snyder told David Emil that the company also owes more than $500,000 to other creditors, which were not named in the suit.
Marcus said Snyder still is pursuing the development of Stroudwater Place. If the court doesn't find reason to dissolve the company, he said, the managers can either negotiate to buy one another out of the company or "find a way to live with each other."
Eric Wycoff of Pierce Atwood, who is representing Emil and Aboodi, declined to comment on the case.
Snyder's partners aren't the first people to sue him over a dispute regarding his land. In 2002, his mother and sister, Carolyn and Maria Snyder, sued him for failing to pay them their share of the $2 million profit made from the sale of two pieces of property owned by the family.
Snyder has said the family members settled the suit and resolved their differences. During the public review of Stroudwater Place, his mother, with whom he lived, strongly endorsed the project.
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: