During a shocking court hearing last Wednesday, family members learned that PPR owner Haysha Dietsch struck a deal with a buyer last January to sell the building at One Prospect Park West in Grand Army Plaza for $76.5 million.
“I had no idea somebody bought the building,” one family member said.
The court learned of the sale when a hearing that was supposed to address the depleted living conditions at the facility, which still houses a handful of elderly residents, instead welcomed a whole new set of lawyers to the case.
As family members waited for their hearing on poor conditions — from rotten food to no electricity — they listened to lawyers representing the building’s buyer fight PPR over the contract they signed on January 27.
According to the buyer — identified as One PPW Residences, LLC in court papers — a close on the sale should not occur until the elderly residents of the building have been removed.
The buyer’s lawyers explained that the buyer had signed the deal in January with the expectation that Deitsch would have a closure plan approved by the Department of Health (DOH), which he would then implement.
In fact, Deitsch did have a closure plan approved by DOH. But despite the fact that DOH knew of Deitsch’s plan to close last year, they advised him not to inform any of the residents of the facility’s imminent closure.
Thus it was not until over a month after the building was sold that Deitsch issued a 90-day eviction notice to the elderly residents at PPR in March, which led to the ongoing battle in court between Deitsch, DOH and the residents.
The buyer did not account for any remaining residents, and referring to their continued presence, the buyer’s lawyers stated that their client “did not contract for that obligation.”
“We want to close this transaction in a way to allow the residents to have their needs addressed,” the plaintiff said.
How deeply the plaintiff cares about the needs of the elderly tenants comes into question, however, with a closer look at the sale contract.
Within the agreement is a lease amendment that refers to a “bonus amount” of $7.5 million if 30 tenants or fewer remained living in the residence by “the first trigger date or earlier.”
Meanwhile, Deitsch is trying to keep the buyer’s deposit of $7.65 million while renegotiating a contract asking for more money.
Family members of the residents sat in the courtroom horrified.
“They’re talking about money, we’re talking about the lives of our loved ones,” one daughter said.
With the added complaint from the buyer, Judge Wayne Saitta of Kings County Supreme Court recommended that the residents, Deitsch, the buyer and DOH come to some sort of global settlement that would be satisfactory for all parties.
Those negotiations began on Monday and were not resolved by press time.
As somewhat of a relief to the distraught family members was the news that a contempt hearing against Deitsch is scheduled for sometime next week.
At that hearing, residents and their families will finally have the opportunity to testify against Deitsch alleging mistreatment that resulted in forced moves, illness and, in far too many cases, death.