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New landlord in Sleepy Hollow pledges to spruce up downtown

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Billy Procida, president and CEO of Procida Funding Advisors, has become the owner of eight mixed use building in the village. He hopes to be at the forefront of a revitalization of parts of the village that he feels have been neglected.
Seth Harrison/lohud

SLEEPY HOLLOW – Juan Veloz didn’t miss a beat when he spotted his new landlord walking down Cortlandt Street one recent morning. 

Veloz, 41, speaking through his 11-year-old daughter Maria acting as an interpreter, told the landlord, William “Billy” Procida, about a malfunctioning bathroom light in his family apartment on the same street.  

“This is the first time we heard about it,” Procida responded to Veloz with a smile. “We’ll send somebody over there.” 

The Veloz family is among the apartment renters who recently became tenants of Procida, president of Procida Funding Advisors, a commercial real estate lender and advisory firm based in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. 

About six months ago, Procida became the owner of eight buildings in the Cortlandt Street neighborhood after the former owners — limited liability companies all owned by Cirilo Rodriguez of Sleepy Hollow — filed for bankruptcy. The buildings were subsequently auctioned off, and Procida, who was a main creditor of Rodriguez, bought the buildings. 

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Procida, as a proprietor of the buildings that contain a total of 68 apartments and eight stores, has been improving his new portfolio, painting façades and installing new blinds on each apartment window. He also got to know his tenants by holding breakfast and dinner meetings.

“I made sure I shook hands with every tenant here,” he said. 

Private lender 

Procida, of Piermont, made his name in real estate as a contractor and developer in New York City, spearheading the revitalization effort of the Bronx and Harlem in the 1980s and 1990s. Around that time, he took one year leave of absence and worked for real estate mogul Donald Trump as his real-life apprentice. 

Procida’s focus in recent years has been lending money to developers and property owners who need non-traditional sources for capital. 

“We are a private lender. In fact, our company was just named as the number one non-bank lender in the country,” said Procida, referring to the 2016 award from Real Estate Finance Investment, an industry news and analytics website. “We do everything a bank does except we don’t take deposits.” 

In August 2015, Rodriguez took out a $9.5 million bridge-loan from Procida’s investment arm, The 100 Mile Fund, to avoid impending foreclosure, according to court papers filed by the fund’s attorney with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. But in a couple of months, 100 Mile discovered a preexisting $1.785 million judgement against Rodriguez, which the fund argues was not disclosed when the $9.5 million loan was made. In early 2016, loan payments stalled, and Rodriguez filed for bankruptcy, according to the document. 

Janese Thompson, a Manhattan attorney representing Rodriquez, said her client had no comment, citing pending litigation, while declining to specify which case. According to Westchester County Clerk’s online records, Procida’s firm sued Rodriquez and his bankruptcy attorney in April for failing to disclose the $1.785 million judgement. Both Rodriguez and his bankruptcy attorney deny the allegation, seeking a dismissal of Procida’s pending complaint, according to court documents. 

Accidental landlord

 

 Procida’s firm is currently financing multiple high-profile real estate projects in different parts of the region, such as the Divine Lorraine in Philadelphia, an ambitious undertaking to convert an abandoned historic building into luxury rental apartments and shops, as well as the Gulls Cove II condominium complex development in Jersey City. 

Still, Procida spends one day a week in his new Sleepy Hollow office on Cortlandt Street, where his full-time staffer, Project Manager Brian Foley, is in charge of day-to-day operations. 

Procida explained that his buildings are located within walking distance from the Tarrytown train station and that nearby waterfront sites have been developed into luxury residential complexes such as Ichabod’s Landing in the village and Hudson Harbor in Tarrytown. And just north of Ichabod’s Landing, there’s an ongoing mega-development, to be called Edge-on-Hudson, transforming the former General Motors site, he said. 

But unlike its surrounding neighborhoods, the Cortlandt Street community has been left ”in disrepair,” Procida said, adding that he will launch the Southwest Sleepy Hollow Property Owners and Merchants Association to spruce up the neighborhood as a whole. 

“It’s the greatest real estate investment opportunity,” he said. “I’m going to lead by example. I just spent a half million dollars, fixing up those buildings.” 

Sleepy Hollow Village Administrator Anthony Giaccio said he was aware of Procida’s effort. 

“Any developer interested in coming to the village to make improvements is welcome,” Giaccio said. “That’s a good thing for the village.”

Procida’s arrival in the village, however, might not have been entirely welcome at least in the beginning: One morning in April when Procida and his staff — along with Village Building Inspector Sean McCarthy — were in the basement of his building at 85-87 Cortlandt St. for an inspection, they had to rush out as a fire broke out in a vacant apartment in the third floor. 

The Westchester County Cause and Origin Team determined the fire was suspicious, and the case is still under investigation as of early October, said Sleepy Hollow police Lt. Michael Gasko. 

Procida expressed his frustration over the slow progress of the investigation, but his focus appears to have been unaffected by the incident. 

“Real estate is a very simple thing in the area like this. If you improve the quality of life by improving your buildings, you will make money,” Procida said. “But you can’t just care about your buildings. You have to care about everybody’s buildings.” 

Twitter: @LohudAkiko  

Article source: http://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/2017/10/11/new-landlord-sleepy-hollow-revitalization/681691001/

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