Another Developer with Persistent History of Tax Delinquencies Is Seeking a Major East Lansing Project // Eliot Singer

At the top of the list of reforms to make public-private development credible is preventing anyone with a history of fraud, tax delinquencies, mortgage defaults and foreclosures, etc. from receiving tax incentives or otherwise engaging in partnerships or dealings with government. This not only limits moral risk—remember East Lansing has done brownfield projects with developers who have committed fraud and had terrible tax payment records, a major reason for the city’s reputation for corruption and cronyism—business people with these factors in their profile are a very high risk for project failure.

According to a report in ELi, another developer with a history of tax delinquencies is seeking a major development project with East Lansing (ELi did not yet report on the tax history).

https://eastlansinginfo.org/content/new-proposal-features-movie-theaters-automated-parking

It is ironic that at the time newspapers across the world, including ELi and LSJ, are challenging Trump for his attempts to intimidate the free press, someone who sued City Pulse for reporting on his tax record “has been in conversations for two or three months with Mayor Mark Meadows, City Manager George Lahanas, and City Planning and Economic Development staff.” For those who missed it, the case was about using the name of the owner, instead of the names of his limited liability (shell) companies in reporting the tax delinquencies, and was thrown out by Judge Ball.

http://lansingcitypulse.com/article-6649-City-Pulse-wins-libel-suit.html

Of more immediate relevance is the continuing history of tax delinquencies for both personal property taxes owed by Authentic Properties LLC (Dublin Square) and real property taxes (327 Abbott Rd LLC). Also, since the purchase of El Azteco, which had a spotless tax payment record under previous ownership, it has seen persistent personal property (ELA Food Services LLC) and real property (225 Ann St LLC) tax delinquencies.

I have reported on this in the past and have only, at this time, checked city tax records, which show red when delinquent taxes are turfed to to Ingham County. I assume ELi will report on this and obtain the full delinquent tax records for all four of these LLCs from Ingham County. If there is any attempt for a brownfield, the MEDC Key Personnel screen will come into play.

I also did a quick check of Ingham Country Register of Deeds records and see several MESC tax liens on Authentic Properties. Even when paid off, it does not change the pattern. Also of note are Federal Tax Liens dated May and June 2018 (not paid off as of record check) against Vlahakis Companies and a January 2018 (not paid off) State of Michigan tax lien against Paul Vlahakis. There are a number of other documents worth checking, but with how ICRD searches work now, you need to pay to obtain full document to get any idea what they are about, so I’ll leave that up to the good auspices of ELi.

 

-Eliot Singer

1 thought on “Another Developer with Persistent History of Tax Delinquencies Is Seeking a Major East Lansing Project // Eliot Singer”

  1. East Lansing Info’s (ELi’s) readers have, on a number of key occasions, benefitted from Eliot Singer’s development-related research, as with Eliot’s deep-dive research on Scott Chappelle, the developer whose companies lost the vacant properties downtown to foreclosure, and with Avondale Square, a project has cost East Lansing taxpayers millions more than it was supposed to when it was conceived.

    We’ll certainly follow up on what Eliot has posted here, and seek comments from Mr. Vlahakis and East Lansing officials — although, at the moment, the mayor is away biking and hiking in Spain, as ELi reported earlier this week.

    Just to be clear: Eliot provides information voluntarily (without compensation). Chris Root, who provided this week’s reporting on Vlahakis’ Park Place plan and two Council Members’ leaves of absence requests, volunteers her services to ELi’s readers, as do I.

    But the reason ELi is sustainable and doing the work it does for this community is because most of the people who work for us get paid a little something. Paying them makes it possible for them to take the time to do the work.

    That includes people who report for us, edit for us, manage our website and archives, prepare our e-mailers and calendar, and manage our payroll. We also pay an educational stipend of $250 to ELHS students who participate in our two-week intensive Summer Youth Journalism Program, and we pay the fantastic high school journalism teacher who runs it, Cody Harrell. (We had nine ELHS participants this year — story coming soon!)

    Right now, we run the whole operation on about $78,000 per year, plus voluntary labor, and about 85% of the money goes to pay local people, from high schoolers to octogenarians, for bringing East Lansing the news.

    This week, Americans heard from lots of newspaper editorial boards and even the U.S. Senate that a free press is vital to functional democracy. It’s that conviction that led me to found ELi in 2014 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan, serious news organization for East Lansing. It’s why my husband Aron Sousa and I are the largest individual donors to ELi, proudly. We believe a free press is a necessary part of democratic life.

    Right now, I’m having to face again pulling back on my own research and reporting for ELi to fundraise for ELi. You can help buy me out of that temporary jail by making a generous tax-deductible donation today, by check or by credit card. It’s easy. Just go to https://eastlansinginfo.org/contribute

    I would much rather be at the Ingham County Register of Deeds looking up tax and easement records with a high school mentee and telling you what we’ve found than bugging people for money. Thank you for considering this request!

    Alice Dreger / Publisher
    East Lansing Info

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