New Accord Over Senior Housing Facility Requested

SALISBURY – With renovations and new amenities eyed for the future, the operator of Pine Bluff Village is looking to become separated from the State of Maryland and is looking for the county’s support.

During this week’s work session, the Wicomico County Council was approached by Isaac Sassoon and Mark Gold of Tryko Partners and their legal representation Bob Taylor to discuss the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement the county holds on the property of Pine Bluff Village.

According to Gold, last year Tryko Partners became the lessee and operator of Pine Bluff Village, which currently operates as HUD (Housing and Urban Development) subsidized elderly housing facility with 151 residential units and community amenities that include a community service coordinator, on-site hairdresser/barber, food services and laundry service. The village is located on the site of the former Pine Bluff Sanatorium owned by the State of Maryland.

In June of 2012, the County Council passed a resolution approving the PILOT agreement with the State of Maryland that continues the terms of the agreement with the former lessee-operator of the facility that was approved in 2007. The PILOT agreement is continuous from when it was first established in 1977.

That agreement stipulates the county accept in lieu of real estate tax an amount, paid by the state, equal to 40 percent of the assessed valuation of the improvements only at Pine Bluff Village multiplied by the then applicable tax rate as set for each fiscal year.

Tryko is currently working with the State of Maryland to go from lessee to owner of Pine Bluff Village and once the purchase occurs the PILOT will be terminated.

Sassoon and Gold reassured the County Council that all intentions are to keep the property as senior affordable housing if the purchase occurs and then look to obtain a similar PILOT agreement that stands today with the state.

Sassoon explained that currently the PILOT includes Parcels A, B and C located on the property, but not Parcel D, which is a hospital structure that has been vacant for years, and Tryko is discussing to include the parcel in the purchase from the state.

The PILOT agreement terms Tryko proposed would stand for 30 years, covering the entire site, with the same ratio of 40 percent of the assessed value of the improvement, conditioned upon the operation of the property for affordable housing.

Gold pointed out that the agreement would result in an immediate increase in the PILOT amount received by the county that would continue to increase beyond the sum that would be payable in future years.

“I am hoping that you guys see what we have done for the property … we have a lot of amenities and I think that we have turned things around but in order for us to continue to invest in this property we need to justify it,” Sassoon said.

Tryko has also purchased Pemberton Manor around the corner and has completed a $1 million renovation on the apartment complex that includes both market-rate and HUD affordable housing units. The facility offers many amenities, including a G.E.D program that is overflowing and having to turn away interested individuals.

Once Tryko purchases Pine Bluff Village, it plans to also renovate the properties and offer additional amenities that would serve the overflow from Pemberton Manor.

Sassoon furthered Pine Bluff Village is already a property in great demand and is 90 percent occupied. The rent is up to $725 a month including utilities. The residential units are available to individuals 62 years and older and the disabled.

Taylor added Pine Bluff is not in competition with market-rate housing because of the income limitation.

“I have heard from constituents [of Pemberton Manor] that they feel more safe … each facility has its own character and improvements they are need of but with what I have seen at Pemberton I see the [Pine Bluff] benefit to the community,” Councilwoman Sheree Sample-Hughes said.

Sassoon asked the council to take the new PILOT agreement quickly into consideration as it plays an important role in acquiring the property from the state.

Council Vice President Bob Culver responded feedback is needed from the County Executive’s Office before the council can move forward.

‘We promise you we will do our due diligence before we reach an agreement,” Culver said.

Tryko Partners is centered in Brick N.J. and is a private equity real estate group active in the acquisition of multifamily properties, healthcare facilities and tax liens throughout the Northeast and Midwest. Tryko was established in 1989 and focuses on forming successful, long-term partnerships with both individual and institutional investors. Tryko’s current portfolio includes more than 4,500 residential units, more than 1,000 skilled nursing beds, and over a $100 million tax lien portfolio.

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