Hudson’s trust problem

Are we too cynical? Not trusting enough? Unwilling to let the inherent goodness of humankind shine through?

That appears to be the message emerging in this latest debate over a proposed senior’s residence.

People who say we should be taking this on faith have short memories.

There’s a big piece of land zoned for a continuing care seniors campus at the corner of Côte St. Charles and Hillside. Hudson taxpayers on the hook for the sewer system will pay in perpetuity for the roughly $1 million it cost to extend the sewer line to R-55.

Last I heard, the owners were asking something like $3 million for the land.

What nobody mentions is why Hudson doesn’t already have a beautiful seniors’ campus on that site with apartments for autonomous and assisted living and an Alzheimer’s wing for 24/7 care of dementia patients.

The following was published as Duff’s Corner, Gazette Vaudreuil-Soulanges, March 29, 2011:

The Anbars have left the building
This past week has been a crash course in business ethics and no, that’s not necessarily an oxymoron. I’ve been delving into the transactions that somehow transferred ownership of the 15.5-acre site of the long-promised continuing-care seniors’ campus from a group of Hudson investors to the family foundation of one of Canada’s largest commercial landlords. Every twist and turn in this financial soap opera is fully documented on registrefoncier.gouv.qc.ca, Quebec’s online real estate transaction registry.
• February, 2005: A federally incorporated numbered company with Frank Royle as president pays $665,000 plus $100,000 in GST and PST for 15.5 acres at the corner of Côte St. Charles and Hillside.
• August 12, 2008: An Alberta incorporated company with Dan Anbar as president borrows $1.6 million from Montreal-based Rosenberg Family Foundation (RFF) for 13 months. Collateral: the $1.8 million assessed value of the land.
The 24-page deed of hypothec suggests this was never meant to be anything but a bridge loan which would allow Andev to find permanent financing for the Hudson seniors’ project. The interest rate was steep — 15 percent for the first 12 months, increasing to 18 percent as of August, 2009, with principal and interest due Sept. 12, 2009. That works out to almost $800 a day — hardly the kind of loan that a prudent business person would seek out.
• August 13, 2008: Royle’s company sells 14 lots to Anbar’s company for $975,000. The deed of sale includes a condition that Anbar begin construction of the first 20 units within a two-year period. It also includes a resolutory clause that says if Anbar fails to start the project by August 13, 2010, Royle and company have the right to repossess the land at no cost.
Summer, 2008: Work begins on Hudson’s sewer system, including a half-kilometre extension of the line up Oakland to service a 172-unit seniors’ campus. Cost: $600-$700 a metre, as much as $500,000 value added to R-55 courtesy of generous Hudson taxpayers. By November, the work is winding down.
• August 7, 2009: Anbar and RFF agree to extend the loan maturity date to Feb. 12, 2010. The interest rate is upped to 17.5%.
• April, 2010: Lawyers for RFF serve Anbar at his Highland Park, Illinois home with notice they’re about to seize the Hudson land. Anbar owes a month and a half of interest — $36, 295.84. He has 60 days to come up with $1,636,295.84.
• October 10, 2010: Anbar voluntarily signs the land over to RFF, ending any chance Royle’s group has of exercising their resolutory clause.
I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out why the Hudson group didn’t exercise their right to repo the land once they realized Anbar was a no-show. If the resolutory clause that forms part of the August 13, 2008 deed of sale didn’t carry enough legal weight, than why didn’t the sellers demand a lien on the land as a guarantee Anbar would deliver?
But when one re-reads the mortgage agreement between Anbar’s Alberta company and RFF, it becomes clear — Anbar wasn’t going to get the loan unless RFF had clear title to the land if he defaulted. A re-read of the deed of sale backs that up, explaining that in order to ensure Anbar gets the loan, “….Vendor does hereby grant priority of rank of all its rights stipulated in its favour in this Resolutory Clause, in favour of the Rosenberg Family Foundation.”
Frank Royle blames RFF for Anbar’s failure. If Anbar was the white knight who was going to ensure assisted care in perpetuity for Hudson’s seniors, why was he having trouble borrowing a paltry $1.6 million, and at such high interest? The Hudson group referred to the loan in their deed of sale, so they must have been aware of the terms. Wouldn’t it have been smarter to have fronted Anbar the land so that they could repo it if he crashed?
Looking back, I can recall an uneasy feeling. Here’s a paragraph from our August 29, 2007 story on the well-attended zoning consultation meeting:
“There were some probing questions, beginning with a query as to what insurance the Town had in place in the event of CRL’s bankruptcy. [Mayor Elizabeth] Corker, obviously somewhat taken aback, waited until the end of the meeting to note: “Council feels quite comfortable with CRL’s reputation and we should also feel comfortable, and go home and get a good night’s sleep.”
I’ve been leaving messages for the Anbars all over North America for the past two years. Last week, I was contacted by a developer who knows them. I asked him to relay a message to them. He called me back the next day to say the Anbars aren’t taking calls from Quebec, but their message was simplicity itself: “The Anbars are unable to build in Quebec.”

Call me cynical and negative, but that’s why we must accept nothing on faith. The Lord helps those who help themselves and that includes taking care of business.

This followup ran March 30, 2011:

Hudson’s R-55:
Owners heedful of community concerns
HUDSON — Paul Vincent just wants to get the facts straight.
Vincent is the industrial and commercial realtor who has been mandated to sell R-55, the 15.5-acre parcel of land originally zoned for a seniors’ residence off Côte St. Charles.
He represents the Rosenberg Family Foundation (RFF), the issuers of the $1.6 million bridge loan used by developer Dan Anbar to buy the land from a Hudson business group in 2008. In February, 2010, Anbar stopped making interest payments and voluntarily signed the land over to RFF last October.
RFF’s offering price is $3 million. That represents $4.45 a square foot for 675,000 square feet, “which is below the offering price for comparably zoned land anywhere in the area,” Vincent points out. “If I had the same piece of land — 675,000 square feet — in Vaudreuil-Dorion, I would be paying a minimum of $10 a foot.” He cited as proof two large residential projects on Blvd. de la Gare either under construction or recently finished.
“Who can say to me that this land, at $4.45 a square foot, is expensive? We’re in Hudson! What are they talking about? This should prove the Rosenberg Family Foundation is not trying to benefit from what the people [behind the seniors’ residence] tried to do.”
The owners of the land are fully aware of the importance of the seniors’ project to Hudsonites, Vincent explained. “[The RFF representative] wants me to find a developer that will have the interests of the Hudson community at heart. The Rosenberg Family Foundation reserves the right to accept or refuse the offer, depending on whether the project being proposed for this piece of land fits within and benefits the Hudson community.”
But he also points out that land is on the market precisely because of Andev’s difficulty in obtaining financing for the project as originally conceived — a three-building concept offering autonomous living, assisted care and Alzheimer/dementia care to seniors.
“We need a vision of this community for the next 10 years and we need the help of all citizens of Hudson to make that kind of decision. Rather than saying no, show me some ideas on how we can say yes.”
Bylaw 516 specifies that the structures be part of a ‘residential complex for senior citizens’ but nowhere does it stipulate the levels of care — or that there be an Alzheimer/dementia care unit.
“A development for seniors, with care — that can be done with the current zoning in concordance with the wishes of the community,” Vincent said. “Autonomous and semi-autonomous at the same time.”
Reading between the lines, a revised project could include assisted care features, but not the Alzheimer/dementia component. “You have to understand that Alzheimer and dementia is a care unit that requires specialized doctors and nurses 24 hours a day. It’s very costly to do and I suspect it’s one of the reasons this project didn’t fly.”
He also questions the original plans to have on-site facilities, such as banks, travel agencies, medical consultation offices, pharmacy, hairdressing salon, convenience store, catering, restaurant/cocktail lounge, laundromat and other commercial operations.
“They’ve got to move, they’ve got to be active, those people. We can have a shuttlebus for those who need it but those who can should be walking into town and using the services there. I want to see 55 plus up to people our parents’ age. Do we want to close the door on them and say that’s it?”
Vincent, himself a Hudson resident, understands why some may not want to depart from the original concept. “I’m not going to confront them. We’ll deal with what comes up. We’ll let the community judge. I want to get the community involved in this project. I need your help!”

So what should Hudson do? Forget about R-55? Rezone it for single-family residential? I can guarantee you’ll run into a wall of resistance from neighbours who like the unbuildable purgatory next door. Such is Hudson.

 

 

 

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