In April 2014, a group partially controlled by the Rev. Calvin Butts’ Abyssinian Development Corp. sold the site of a Pathmark supermarket at 125th St. and Lexington Ave. for $39 million to real estate giant Extell Development.
Abyssinian completed the sale despite initial opposition from the site’s co-owners — the nonprofit Community Association of the East Harlem Triangle Inc. — and over objections from City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
But 18 months later, Abyssinian has yet to turn over more than $2 million that East Harlem Triangle was supposed to receive as part of its share, documents obtained by the Daily News show.
“We want to know where our money went,” said Derrick Taitt, board chairman of East Harlem Triangle.
“We had an agreement (with Abyssinian) to be a joint venture,” Taitt said, “but they kept cheating us and charging us for costs we never agreed to.”
Abyssinian, Harlem’s biggest affordable-housing manager and social service provider, is in such dire financial shape that it could not meet its payroll on a few occasions in recent months, Butts told The News last week.
Meanwhile, the de Blasio administration has suspended more than $3 million in city contracts after Abyssinian Development failed for three consecutive years to submit required tax filings and independent audits.
And now, records of the Pathmark land sale raise even more questions about Abyssinian’s finances.
They show that in March 2014, Abyssinian returned a $2 million deposit from Extell, after leaders of East Harlem Triangle discovered Abyssinian had secretly agreed to sell the land without notifying them.
The two groups had a 50-50 joint venture that was managed by a board of directors composed of four members from each.
After weeks of infighting, Abyssinian’s board members finally convinced one East Harlem Triangle board member to switch sides and approve the deal.
At the time, Butts rejected a personal appeal from Mark-Viverito to halt the transaction.
By Juan Gonzalez | October 7, 2015