Months later, Birchez answers still the same


By David Avitabile

Once again, promises continue that the long-awaited and often-delayed Birchez senior housing project will be open soon in Schoharie.
Finish work continues at the three buildings off of lower Main Street in Schoharie, according to Steve Aaron, the project sponsor.
In a positive step for the project, Mr. Aaron said, all three buildings have certificates of occupancy from the buildings inspector.
“The good news is we have all our COs,” he said Thursday afternoon. The CO for the main building was received about two weeks ago.
The project must clear two more hurdles before there is a final completion.
“We’re waiting for state inspection. We’re waiting to get confirmation.”
Mr. Aaron gave the same explanation in late June.
Once the state inspection is done and there is an approval, the rents will be set and “we start doing leases,” Mr. Aaron said. “We’re confident we’re going to pass.”
He noted that the architects have filed a document of substantial completion of the project, but doesn’t know when the state inspection and approval might come.
“Like any state program, you have to go in their process…
They’re aware that we’re ready. I believe we have all we need to move ahead in an expeditious fashion.”
Though not yet open, Mr. Aaron promised occupancy is near.
In addition to the state inspection, the question of the control of the project may be headed back to Ulster County Supreme Court on November 9.
While the buildings continue toward completion, a potential legal battle remains over the control of the project.
Representatives from Bank of America went to Ulster County Supreme Court in June to attempt to wrest control of the project.
A court date was set for August 1 and one witness gave testimony before the matter was adjourned to September 6. That was changed to November 9.
The next court date is only needed if things do not work out, Mr. Aaron said, but he could not comment further.
During the summer, Mr. Aaron said that Judge James Gilpatric affirmed in open court that unless there is a change due to further court action, that Schoharie Senior General Partner, headed by Mr. Aaron, will continue to be the managing general partner of the project.
Then the judge signed an order reaffirming that decision.
The action was originally filed by Birches at Schoharie LP, Banc of America CDC, special holding company against Mr. Aaron and Schoharie Senior Housing.
Almost all the work is done at the 72-unit project, Mr. Aaron confirmed last week.
“Everything is up and going, ready to be occupied.”
The only things left to be done are “tweaks” on the upgrades added to the project, he said.
There is a full list of occupants for the units, Mr. Aaron said, and they currently have a waiting list.
Once the project is open, he promised, the application process will continue and the project will again be actively marketed.
“I anticipate that happening shortly.”
He has instructed staff at the site to show prospective renters who visit the project completed units.
A certificate of occupancy was issued on June 20 for the two smaller yellow cottage buildings near the front of the project on Main Street.
In late June, Mr. Aaron said that tenants would be able to move into those buildings shortly, but no one has moved in yet.
The project, which will include 72 units for senior citizens when opened, was expected to be completed in the spring of 2016 and then last fall.