Central Warehouse Owner’s Bankruptcy Offer Ends

ALBANY — A U.S. bankruptcy judge has dismissed Evan Blum’s second attempt to file for bankruptcy as he tries to retain control of the central warehouse.

The signed order issued Friday lifts one of two hurdles Blum raised last month as Albany County moved to transfer the 11-story warehouse to a development partnership owned by Redburn Development and Columbia Development.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David S. Jones’ order came after a hearing on April 14. No written opinion was issued with the order.

It’s unclear what the next steps are for Blum. His attorney, Douglas Pick, was wary when asked if Blum would relinquish control or continue to fight.

Pick questioned why the county went through with the deal it made with the local development group, rather than auctioning off the property to the highest bidder.

“We always talk about my side of things,” he said.

Just days before the layoff, Pick had filed a petition asking Jones to approve a proposal that would allow Blum to auction off the property and have that money applied to the property’s tax liability.

A county prosecutor said there would be no movement on the property until a second court case is resolved.

“There remains an ongoing state court proceeding to vacate the county’s overdue real estate tax lien foreclosure judgment,” Eugenia Condon said in a statement. “Pending the court’s decision, the proposed transfer of properties from Central Warehouse to Redburn/Columbia is on hold.”

Before his second bankruptcy filing, another lawyer for Blum filed a petition in the State Supreme Court for Albany County, alleging that the county violated notification requirements under state law for property tax foreclosures. That case was put on hold after Blum filed for bankruptcy for the second time.

The county denied the charge that it failed to follow proper notification requirements.

On March 14, the county legislature approved a resolution transferring ownership to CW Skyway LLC, a company controlled by Redburn Development Partners and Columbia Development. The developers agreed to pay $50,000 while the county cleared over $500,000 in delinquent property taxes.

The two development groups want to turn the property into a mix of apartments, retail and retail space. It is unclear how much this project will cost and the developers have made it clear that they will seek taxpayer assistance to fund the redevelopment.

Blum originally filed for bankruptcy last June after the county said it was seizing the property for back taxes and asked bidders to submit sealed offers on the property.

After repeatedly asking Blum to show how he could pay off arrears and redevelop the property, a U.S. bankruptcy court judge rejected his proposed reorganization in December.

Blum withdrew its bankruptcy filing, and in January the county awarded ownership to CW Skyway LLC. The company was the sole bidder for the property after another developer withdrew.

Janet E. Fishburn