A city development agency zapped an electric car maker with a lawsuit to clawback more than 0,000 over a failed project to transform a Bronx building into a vehicle factory.
The city’s Industrial Development Corp. and Smith Electric Vehicles Corp. in August 2012 cut a deal to transform a 90,000-square-foot building on Locust Ave. in Port Morris into a facility that would manufacture, service and sell electric rides.
Officials including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. at the time celebrated the deal because of the 100 new jobs it was expected to create.
But the suit filed in New York Supreme Court on Oct. 31 accused the Kansas-based Smith of doing nothing to the property, letting its insurance lapse and never paying money it owed to the city in exchange for property tax breaks.
Smith Electric closer to being Bronx-bound
In October 2013, an Industrial Development Agency official who checked out the building found that “construction had not commenced, and noted that no workers were present,” the suit said. “A security guard confirmed that the facility was empty inside and stated that he had rarely seen anyone at the facility.”
By January 2014, Smith would be in default with the city, while blowing its deadline for finishing the project, according to the suit.
With penalties and interest, Smith now owes the city 4,624, according to the suit.
The company did not immediately return requests for comment.
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Smith, in its deal to set up shop in the Bronx, got a million tax benefit package, including .4 million in tax credit benefits from the Empire State Development Corp. It is unclear what happened to the state’s tax package. A spokesman for Gov. Cuomo did not immediately return a request for comment. Neither did Diaz’s office or the Simone Development Companies, one of the biggest developers in the Bronx, which leased out the Locus Ave. building.
Stephanie Baez, spokeswoman for the city’s Economic Development Corp., which oversees the Industrial Development Agency, said that Smith’s application for the benefits program showed that the company was in good financial standing at the time.
- ruben diaz jr.
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