Tenants at two properties owned by former Ulster County Executive Mike Hein were told to vacate after he sold the buildings to a notorious Kingston developer in late December for $1.2 million
Charles Blaichman bought the five-unit Heritage Hill Apartments and the six-unit Victorian Manor Apartments, two small residential buildings in the city’s Rondout waterfront district, through a limited liability corporation (LLC) incorporated in April 2019. Tenants at Heritage Hill Apartments were notified in late January they had to vacate the building by the end of April.
Blaichman has developed several properties in Kingston through Hudson Valley Kingston Development, for which he is a principal, including the Kinsley, a boutique hotel in Kingston’s gentrified Uptown district.
Nan Potter, a local real estate agent and property manager, said she managed the buildings, but refused to say if Blaichman was the new owner.
Hein sold Victorian Manor Apartments to Blaichman for $700,000 on Dec. 19, according to the state property transfer report, which lists Marlboro-based attorney Daniel Martuscello as Blaichman’s attorney for the transaction.
Hein sold Heritage Hill Apartments to Blaichman the same day for $500,000, according to the building’s property transfer report.
Potter said the apartments would be improved, but also said there were no plans for the buildings as of yet.
“They are not going to become anything like a hotel…they’re not going to be Airbnbs, they’re not going to be anything different than what they are – they’re going to be in the original footprints, most likely. I don’t know, we have no plans at this point,” she said.
None of the tenants had leases, and some hadn’t paid rent in four months, Potter added.
Tenants at Heritage Hill Apartments described a casual agreement between themselves and Christine Hein, Mike Hein’s wife, to rent the apartments. They said they had no problem with Mrs. Hein as a landlord, and said their rents were very reasonable for Kingston.
Andrew Parker said he had lived in Heritage Hill Apartments for at least a decade, and his rent had not been raised in that time.
He also said Mrs. Hein had been a good landlord but expressed anger at being asked to leave by the new owner.
“I’ve been incredibly pissed off about this,” he said.
He received a notice dated Jan. 22 at his apartment saying he had until the end of April to leave.
Parker reached out to attorneys for guidance, but was struggling to find a path forward, he said.
“You’re just so fucked as a tenant,” he said.
Under new rent laws passed by the state legislature last year, tenants are afforded additional rights. A tenant living for more than two years at a property must be given a 90-day notification if the landlord intends not to renew their lease. If there is no lease, the laws are more complex.
The Heritage Hill tenants were given more than 90 days.
Kingston is pursuing the second part of the law passed last year, which would establish a county board to set rent increases in the city. Rent would be stabilized in buildings constructed before 1974 with six or more units, and would therefore would apply to Victorian Manor Apartments, but not Heritage Hill Apartments.
Ian Swartzwood, another Heritage Hill tenant, said he did not sign a lease when he moved in five years ago.
Swartzwood pays $850 a month to rent the one-bedroom apartment, he said.
Potential buyers visited the apartments every six months or so, Swartzwood said, and there were always rumors it would sell, but he was surprised and upset about being told to leave.
Swartzwood said he never had a problem with Mrs. Hein.
“She was a good landlord,” he said.
Mike Hein owned the properties through two LLCs – Victorian Manor Apts LLC and Heritage Hill Apts LLC. The LLCs were created in 2009, according to state records, which list the Heins’ home as the mailing address. Ownership of the properties was transferred from Hein to the LLCs in 2009 and 2010, according to county sales data.
Though the properties sold for $1.2 million, they were assessed by the city of Kingston at $519,000 as of July 2018, according to property tax rolls.
Blaichman now controls the properties through an LLC called Kingston OPS Zone, which was created in 2019, according to state records. His name personally appears as the buyer on the state property transfer reports.
Hein, who left his position as Ulster County Executive in Feburary 2019 to join Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration as commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, did not return calls for comment, nor did Blaichman.
Blaichman was the driving force behind developing the Kinsley, a decentralized, four-property hotel in Kingston’s gentrified Uptown District.
The project received a $1.4 million property tax break through the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency in January 2018, according to the Daily Freeman.
Correction: This article was updated at 6:04 p.m. Feb. 4 to reflect that Victorian Manor Apartments has six units, not five, and therefore is applicable for rent stabilization under the ETPA.
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