Details emerge on Luminati backers

02/16/2018 6:00 AM |

As the date comes closer for Riverhead Town’s qualified and eligible sponsor hearing to vet Calverton Aviation & Technology, new details have emerged on the principals of the entities that make up CA&T as well as their roles in the proposed development at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. 

The Feb. 27 hearing is required because the town is poised to sell more than 1,600 acres of town-owned land in an urban renewal area for $40 million.

Several documents posted online this week, in advance of the hearing, showed that Nader Ghermezian is chairman of the Triple Five Group of Companies, “which is engaged in commercial and industrial development on a worldwide basis” and is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and East Rutherford, N.J. According to the agreement of sale, Calverton Aviation & Technology is a joint venture between Luminati Aerospace LLC and Triple Five Real Estate I LLC. The LLC name for Triple Five was listed differently in a Dec. 28 version of the agreement of sale, which led the Town Board to postpone a Q&E hearing that had been scheduled in January. The Town Board then requested more information on the principals of Triple Five.

In a Jan. 17 letter to the town, Mr. Ghermezian wrote: “Typically, each project is identified by a separate entity. In this case, the entity is Triple Five Real Estate I LLC.”

He said that the Triple Five Group of Companies will provide CA&T with “the required expertise and experience” and that the support offered by Triple Five Group of Companies is not affected by the change in the Triple Five entity that is involved with CA&T.

In a separate letter, also dated Jan. 17, Mr. Ghermezian wrote that Triple Five Real Estate I LLC is a member of CA&T and is “a company owned by members of my family, [as is] Luminati Aerospace LLC, which is a company owned by Daniel Preston.”

Mr. Ghermezian said that if CA&T is designated as a qualified and eligible sponsor, Triple Five Group of Companies will, at closing, provide CA&T with “the financial resources required to purchase the property, and with the expertise required to develop, finance, construct, and manage the property.”

He also provided résumés for John and Syd Ghermezian, who are “each a member of Triple Five Real Estate I LLC.”
Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said the town requested those résumés because they were told these were the principals of Triple Five Real Estate I, LLC.

According to the résumés, Syd Ghermezian is vice chairman and CEO of Triple Five Group of Companies and is based in East Rutherford, N.J., while John Ghermezian is vice chairman and chief business officer of the Mall of America in Minnesota, which was built and is operated by Triple Five.

Triple Five is currently building a new “American Dream” mall in the New Jersey Meadowlands.

Mr. Preston submitted a one-page “curriculum vitae” indicating that he is the founder, owner and CEO of Luminati Aerospace, and that the company’s business plan is “to establish itself as a major force in the global aerospace industry, focusing on cutting-edge, high technology, large scale aerospace manufacturing.”

It also says, as have previous résumés, that he attended college at age 12, holds more than 100 patents and pending patents, he started his first company at the age of 18 and sold it at age 22 for $4.6 million.

Mr. Preston’s second company was a contractor for the Department of Defense and won five Small Business Innovation Research contracts, and he also founded a chocolate/alcohol company, according to the CV he provided.

The CV also says he designed and manufactured wing suits, for which he conducted more than 3,000 test jumps and more than 800 flights.

None of the information in any of these documents could be independently verified by presstime.

A Dec. 31, 2017, bank statement from Mr. Preston was also included. Robert Hasday, the attorney representing Luminati in the negotiations with the town, said by letter that he was informed that Mr. Preston’s father, John, is on the bank account “only for convenience” and that, prior to Dec. 31, Daniel Preston disbursed $1 million from that account’s balance to the bank account of CA&T and, in order to earn a higher interest rate, invested $5.5 million of the account balance in a note set to mature May 15, 2018.

The Sterling National Bank statement the town received for the account held jointly by Daniel and John Preston showed an ending balance of $8.56 million.

Did that clear everything up?

“I still have a lot of questions,” Ms. Jens-Smith said Tuesday. She listed the relationship between Triple Five and Daniel Preston and their respective roles in the undertaking among her questions.

“What are their plans for the property and how do they plan on carrying them out?” she asked. “I would like them to be clear on who is doing what.”

As for the many variations of the Triple Five name, Ms. Jens-Smith said, “It’s still a concern, but at least now we’re going to the Q&E hearing with the company they say is the purchaser. The prior agreement had an LLC that was no longer being indicated as the purchaser.”

The hearing requires the buyer to show that they have the finances and ability to carry out an intended development plan for the property, which in this case calls for improving infrastructure and identifying prospective businesses to locate on the property, among other things.

Councilman Tim Hubbard said, “These are all questions that are going to be asked of them at the hearing, and they will have to explain to us and the public why they are doing it this way.”

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