Norwalk withdraws one lawsuit, sues Milligan anew
NORWALK - The city and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency on Monday withdrew one lawsuit and filed a new one against local commercial real estate developer Jason Milligan.
Joseph Williams, the attorney representing the redevelopment agency, said the new lawsuit wasn’t immediately available Monday — “we’re just serving it”— but he summarized it as follows:
“The main difference is that the new lawsuit seeks to undue or invalidate the conveyance of the properties in the redevelopment area to the Milligan entities,” Williams said. “The first petition was for a prejudgment remedy. This is more for an order of the court enforcing the LDA (Land Disposition Agreement) and invalidating the transfer of the properties.”
In June, the city and redevelopment agency sued Wall Street Opportunity Fund, of which Milligan is a managing member, after he purchased properties in the footprint of the latter phases of the stalled redevelopment project Wall Street Place. The lawsuit named ISLR Owners LLC, an affiliate of Port Chester, N.Y.-based developer POKO Partners, as a co-defendant.
The lawsuit, filed in state Superior Court in Stamford, argued that Milligan and POKO Partners fraudulently transferred the properties without redevelopment agency approval as required under the Land Disposition Agreement governing the project.
On Monday, a “Withdrawal of Action” was posted on the court’s website. “The Plaintiff’s action is WITHDRAWN AS TO ALL DEFENDANTS without costs to any party,” reads the withdrawal notice filed with the court by Williams.
Milligan, in an email Monday afternoon, wrote, “The city withdrew the bogus fraudulent transfer lawsuit!” He questioned who was behind the decision.
“I wish I knew who was in charge, seriously. I’d love to talk to that person or those people, because it’s not clear what their goal is,” Milligan told Hearst Connecticut Media. “It just seems like they’re reaching. I just want to be recognized as the owner and work with whomever on what we want for Wall Street.”
He described the city’s legal actions against him as “wasting taxpayer money and time.”
“At the end of all this legal mumble jumble, there still has to be a discussion, there still has to be a plan,” Milligan said.
Milligan, owner of Milligan Real Estate on Belden Avenue, purchased the properties at 21, 23 and 31 Isaac St. and those at 83 and 97 Wall St. from ILSR Owners at the end of May. He has since demolished the vacant house at 21 Isaacs St., reopened the closed portion of the former Leonard Street Municipal Lot at 23 Isaacs St. and started renovating 97 Wall St.
The properties are located within the area of Wall Street Place, where construction stopped two years ago.
POKO Partners stopped construction on the first phase of Wall Street Place — 101 apartments in the former Isaacs Street Municipal Lot — in 2016 amid financing issues with lender CitiBank. The bank has since acquired that property and has been in discussions with prospective new developer John McClutchy, of Stamford.
In late June, Milligan asked the redevelopment agency to transfer development rights for the second phase of Wall Street Place from POKO to him.
In response, the agency asked him provide, pursuant to the LDA, a financial disclosure, including the names and addresses of Wall Street Opportunity Fund’s members and/or investors for review by the agency’s third-party consultant.
According to Norwalk Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola, head of the city’s law department, Milligan hasn’t provided the information.
Milligan, in an email to Coppola on July 31, wrote that he was “open to agree to some basic provisions that would clearly establish or confirm some important rights & remedies.”
He said he would agree not to sell the properties at 21 or 23 Isaacs St. without city or agency approval provided the properties at 31 Isaacs, 97 and 83 Wall St. — part of the third phase of Wall Street Place — be released from city or agency controls or restrictions.