I’m Fikret Deljanin, I’m with Douglas Elliman. We manage Luna Park housing in Coney Island. It’s a 28 acre, 20 20-story high rise buildings. You have 1576 apartments with an average of 3 individuals per apartment, so it’s a big hectic complex. It’s dynamic in its own right, primarily the residents are from the former republic of Russia, the Ukraine in fact. So there’s a language barrier there, and you’re always trying to help out these folks. It’s not easy, they’ve come to the United States as the United States is the white picket fence, mom and apple pie, and these folks can’t read that on a sign, so you’re always trying to help them out, make life easier, as it is at Mitchell-Lama. It’s supervised by HPD, so it’s a little different cooperative, it’s unique in its own right. Financial hardships that have plagued it for years, and through the help of Adam and his staff, by being able to generate and secure funding, grant funding, 8a loan funding, and the Wells Fargo financing agreement, which kudos have to go out to them for that, that’s truly a huge undertaking. $47 million from Wells Fargo, a total of $21 million in grant funding from HPD, which is a record, it hasn’t been heard of. Adam was instrumental in putting all these pieces together, as he is instrumental in getting people into a room and negotiating these deals. So hats off for Adam on that. This is something I think I would have lost a bet in Vegas on because HPD has been known to give maybe $4-6 million, if you were able to receive that funding. Adam was able to pull $21 million. That’s something I would walk around with a sign over my head, “I did this,” because it is impressive.
What do you think led to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s success in HPD hearings?
His devotion, and the staff for being relentless with HPD. HPD is overwhelmed, they really are, so when you send documentation to HPD, it could take a while before they are able to review it and respond. Adam’s staff, they’re relentless, they just keep harping and harping and harping, where I would have to call and say “Guys back off, you don’t want to upset them.” It takes a particular skill to be a pain, and do it with a smile, and have the other person on the other side actually thank you for being a pain. So Adam’ s guys, the crew here, they were something else, they really are when it comes to the hold over proceedings, the HPD hearings, dealing with the hearing officers. They’re not easy people to deal with, even though there are governing rules, there are always exceptions to rules. You don’t want to evict a 90 year old World War II veteran. Sometimes rules need to be bent, not necessarily broken. Adam’s staff was able to negotiate, and allow for people of that caliber, who needed affordable housing, who it was meant to be for, to stay in these apartments. So, pretty good.
Have you previously worked with a law firm and there was zero cost to the Coop?
Zero cost? Definitely not. Honestly no. Not one of them, no. There would always be a cost associated to the corporation and a cost associated to the shareholder. With Adam, strictly shareholder, they would be responsible for any of the legal fees and that would, at the end of the day, come out of their equity. Sharing that, definitely not.
How many cases did Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. handle and what were the outcomes?
He did a good 90 cases, easily, and a lot of evictions attached to them. Prior to that a good 8-9 years, if they had an eviction or two a year, that was a landmark moment for them. Since Adam came on, evictions were pouring left and right on rightfully due individuals who did not belong in this affordable housing schematic, so he did a lot.
From your experiences, what makes Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. different from other law firms?
I would always recommend Adam for one major, major reason, I don’t know is it attorneys, but when you send an email or make a phone call, there’s somebody that picks up the phone and talks to you. If Adam’s not there, that phone call is being transferred to him on his cell phone. If there’s an email being sent to Adam, or anybody on the staff, there’s a response within three to four minutes. I’m doing this almost 19 years, the average wait time would be 8 hours, and I’m not kidding. Attorneys call you back because they are small operations, but Adam has such a developed staff here that there is, really, minimal downtime in waiting for a response. I could honestly be anywhere and say Adam will call me back in two seconds, or figuratively speaking two seconds, but in three minutes Adam’s calling, or somebody on his staff is calling. He called from Hong Kong, and I said: “Alright, now you’re going a little overboard, you don’t need to respond,” which was impressive. That’s a lot to say for an organization because we are a service industry; he is service with a smile.
What were some of the challenges with your case and how did Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. overcome them?
Secession rights. The rules can be manipulated to the resident shareholder’s advantage. That’s where Adam stands out; they really scrutinize the rules, turn them backwards, forwards, sideways, up, down, and look for any possible, viable angle, I should say not angle, but vehicle, to support our claim that these people rightfully do not belong in the apartment. So that’s pretty impressive.
How successful was Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. at handling complex Mitchell-Lama issues?
Primarily, the issues with the Mitchell-Lama are the income affidavits; making sure people are truthfully, like they are supposed to on the affidavit, as it is a sworn document, all the individuals listed are residents of that unit. That’s one major factor. Providing proper financial documentation; a lot of them get audited because the numbers just don’t add up. That’s where Adam and his staff would come in and review and make sure and see and spot check to see if there are any issues, or potential issues, for Luna Park because we all are required to do our due diligence. It’s not just, basically, take this information and file it away. So we’re all responsible at the end of the day, including HPD, so his interaction with HPD on a daily, constant basis, making sure that our resolutions, our property handle, our rules and regulations are being enforced properly, amended when needed. These are all things that Adam stands behind and is constantly reviewing.
How would you rate Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.’s performance?
8.375. And the only reason I held the one and a quarter: there’s always room for improvement in all of us, including him. He’s up there, he really is. High marks for Adam. I’m always constantly, I don’t know if I’m like, selling him or pitching him to other people, but when I speak to somebody about Adam,
it’s from the heart, he really, really cares about his client, and it’s never with him is he billing you. I would have to call him occasionally and say: “When are you going to send an invoice for this?” So money is not the game for him. I think he takes a lot of pride in doing the right thing for his client, and being proactive and productive and producing quality. And he does deliver that, so does whole staff, they really do: from the receptionist going forward.
Of the law firms you’ve worked with, who would you say is the best?
To date? Adam. Adam Leitman Bailey, hands down. And, I’ll be honest with you, when I first was introduced to Luna Park 2 years ago, like I said 19 years, I’ve dealt with a lot of attorneys, I wasn’t personally confident that Adam could handle Luna Park. I’ve sent him an email saying the opposite recently; I was wrong, I really was wrong. He handled it and then some. He proved me wrong, I appreciate that. And it’s hard for me to say I’m wrong, and I said it to him, so he should appreciate that too.
Any other comments?
I only wish the best for the firm, and for it to grow. He’s the type, he’ll take the business, but he will not take the business if he can’t handle it. He’s honest and truthful about it. He will not just for the sake of having another account take that account on. As being a part of Douglas Elliman, the largest property management firm in the city of New York, he’s never once asked me to try to speak to other colleagues and push him to other people. Never, never, never once has he ever uttered a word to “Hey, call your colleagues here; I can help here.” Never. He’s the type…his name speaks for itself. If you think it’s of any value, you’ll refer him. And that’s the way he is.