The Monopoly of Property by the McCloskey Family and Affiliates
Urban Green Investments (UGI), headed by CEO David Palmer McCloskey, is currently Ellis Act evicting 98-year-old Mary Elizabeth Phillips from her home of 40 years on 55 Dolores Street through its Dolores Street, LLC. As Mary says, "This has been my home for over 40 years and I don't want to leave. . . I am just too old. She later explained, "I didn't sit down and cry, I just refused to believe it. They're going to have to take me out of here feet first. Just because of your age, don't let people push you around." Mary has since refused to leave, as has her neighbor and caregiver Sarah Brant, who teaches high school in the Unified School District. Currently UGI is going after Sarah, to effectively displace both tenants, as Mary cannot live there without Sarah. As their lawyer says, "Urban Green Investments (UGI) has filed a lawsuit to evict Mary Phillips, although they have not served it yet. Instead, they are proceeding with litigation against her close friend and caregiver Sarah Brant, who also lives in the building, understanding that if they evict Sarah, then Mary cannot remain as the sole occupant of a building that is being turned into a construction zone." Here is a GoFund me site up to help pay for Mary and Sarah's legal fees. Further protests may be planned by Eviction Free San Francisco to continue to fight the eviction.
This is far from Urban Green's first eviction. They have displaced numerous tenants in the San Francisco Bay Area through Ellis Act evictions and buy-outs. They are a San Francisco Multi-family portfolio, and own at least 385 units in over fifteen buildings. In October 2012, they purchased a 130 unit multi-family portfolio in San Francisco and 40 TIC units in San Francisco. In July 2012, they picked up a 12-building multifamily portfolio for $38 Million cash from Prana Investments. They are currently involved in roughly 40 LLCs, many of which they use to evict tentants and then flip buildings.
In 2012, while seeking financing for 735 Taylor St—61-unit low-income Single Room Occupancy (SRO) building—the loan officer summarizes Urban Green’s plan for the building: “The borrower’s strategy is to turn all weekly rentals into longer term tenants. ... The borrower will focus on leasing to the local student population and will try and lease space to new tenants with common interests on the same floors." The plan was to segregate and gentrify the building with students, floor by floor. SROs are one of the few truly affordable options for residents willing to live without kitchens and or private bathrooms. They also take Section 8 vouchers which is increasingly rare. Urban Green has also purchased a 200-unit SRO in Oakland which it is in the process of renovating.
David McCloskey, Thomas McCloskey, and Peter Lynch formed Urban Green Investments in 2008 as a real estate investment company positioned to take advantage of new opportunities created by the distressed real estate and financial markets. As they say, "Once properties are acquired, Urban Green incorporates an asset plan to add value to income producing properties, and employs a green renovation strategy." We find very little green about evicting elders, teachers, or any tenant from their home.
Urban Green is a subsidiary of his father Thomas D. McCloskey's Colorado-based business Cornerstone Holdings. Thomas is Founder, Chairman of UGI. He is also Chairman & CEO of Cornerstone Holdings (CO) and McCloskey and Company (HI), and Chairman of UGI (SF), has served as general partner in over 50 partnerships and been involved in a variety of diverse business activities, and high-level strategic development of technology companies and wireless communications markets for the past thirty years. He is Director of John C. Bills Enterprises, Inc. and Northcorp Development, Inc. UGI lawyer, Michael Karpowicz, is married to Thomas's daughter Devon.
Peter Lynch, Founder, President Peter has been in the San Francisco real estate investment business since 1989. Before the formation of Urban Green Investments, Peter founded and ran his own real estate investment company, Lynch Investments. Lynch Investments acquired and renovated 65 buildings in San Francisco during that period, and executed many other projects across the country. He Ellis Act evicted in 1998 in San Francisco.
The McCloskeys own property in Colorado, New York, Hawaii, and California. They have a history of angering local residents. For instance, they own a 300-acre former sugar plantation called Kealia Kai in Hawaii: "The development became a symbol for everything Kaua`i people hated in the 90’s when the Colorado developer came here and bought the entire Kealia Ahupua`a for a ridiculously low $17 million- or less since that was only the asking price- while the community and even county and state government was considering how to purchase and preserve it as a park. Although the land had long been thought to be Hawaiian “crown” land- or stolen land as it is known in kanaka circles- that had merely been leased to Makee Plantation by King Kalakaua in the 1880’s, no one ever challenged the sale or deed. McCloskey tried to turn the entire makai-of-the-highway portion from Kealia to Anahola into a private beach community and block all public access."
In Colorado, Thomas McCloskey and his wife Bonnie of the Aspen Institute pulled a similar scheme to shut off access to beloved land so that they could build their 70-acre mansion, much to residents' dismay.
The capital that the McCloskeys have access to and use to disrupt communities around the country bears further unmasking. Legacy family wealth stemming from generations of development schemes - sometimes at the public trough - lay hidden behind a veneer of public engagement.
Zoom in and hover over sites owned by the McCloskeys in this map to read more stories of exploitation to the nepotistic McCloskey structure.