One of the more unusual real estate transactions in recent uptown memory will play out on Wednesday in a conference room of the Wyndham Hotel in Times Square.
The property in question, an unassuming pay-parking lot in the Inwood section of northern Manhattan, just south of Columbia University’s Baker Athletics Complex, will be sold to the highest bidder in a government auction.
The lot is currently owned by the United States Department of Treasury.
Now host to a 24-hour parking lot, 5051-5055 Broadway was once owned by Manuel Geovanny Rodriguez-Perez—Uptown’s “Dominican Chapo”— a/k/a “Shorty,” a/k/a “El Monstruo,” a/k/a “Manny.”
Rodriguez-Perez dominated the uptown marijuana market from the early 1990s through 2010.
According to the Department of Justice, Rodriguez-Perez was “the leader of a massive and violent racketeering organization (the “Rodriguez Enterprise”) whose members sold large quantities of marijuana, murdered and attempted to murder nearly 20 people, transported and laundered millions of dollars, obstructed justice and committed perjury, and engaged in firearms offenses.” (DOJ press release)
Rodriguez-Perez, and more than 50 members of his marijuana trafficking ring, were arrested during “Operation Green Venom” in 2010—the multi-agency operation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“ICE HSI”).
In 2016 the marijuana kingpin pled guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy “and accepted responsibility for dozens of illegal acts associated with that conspiracy, including nine murders and 10 attempted murders in the United States and the Dominican Republic.” (DOJ press release)
He was sentenced to life in prison.
Rodriguez-Perez had invested proceeds from his criminal enterprises in real estate in New York, Florida, and the Dominican Republic during his decades-long career.
The uptown parking lot, and other properties, was seized following the kingpin’s conviction.
Which brings us back to Wednesday’s sale.
The auction, scheduled for 10:00 a.m., includes air rights to the 7,500 square foot space.
A link to the auction follows:
Quite a history!
The timing of the auction comes at a strange moment — the site has very little value under its current C8 zoning (basically for low-density automotive or commercial use only), but should the rezoning overturning be itself overturned, it will go back to R7D zoning and support up to 11 stories of apartments.
The notion of “air rights” is odd here since they have virtually no value under either the current zoning (can’t use them for anything given the limited uses) or the rezoning (height is capped at 11 stories regardless of how many air rights are collected).