November 26, 2021

Rental properties to be sold after foreclosure

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

From left are 9, 11, 13 and 15 Reynolds Ave. in Cortland, which are among the several properties owned by Long Island landlord Jeff Grodinsky that are being foreclosed on.

Twenty-six city properties owned by landlord Jeff Grodinsky are for sale after long foreclosure proceedings, with at least 100 tenants still awaiting security deposits they say they never got back from Grodinsky, Mayor Brian Tobin said.

“These properties being foreclosed upon is a disservice to the tenants, a disservice to the bank and a disservice to the community,” Tobin said Wednesday. “It’s hard to look at any of these properties and think there was any sort of financial reinvestment in the property.”

The properties are on Clayton, Lincoln, Groton and Reynolds avenues, Pleasant, Tompkins and West Court streets and Monroe Heights.

The properties range in value from $80,000 to $240,000, according to tax assessment rolls on file in the Cortland County Real Property Tax Service office.

Grodinsky has had a contentious past with the city and some of his tenants. The state Attorney General’s Office began investigating last fall because scores of SUNY Cortland students claimed the Long Island-based Grodinsky had not returned their security deposits.

The properties for sale include ones that Endicott-based Visions Federal Credit Union took over in 2015, managing them under the name Cortland Visions. Others were managed under the name Cortland Habitats or College Hill Realty. But all those companies are owned by Grodinsky, according to the state Department of State.

In addition to the financial institution taking over the properties, Grodinsky’s company, Cortland Habitats, was issued a stop work order by the state Workers’ Compensation Board in September 2015 for operating without necessary permits.

No major structural code issues have been reported at the properties that are for sale, said city Code Enforcement Officer Tom Tobin. Rather, it was more a matter of the managers following proper procedures, like getting permits before work is done or ensuring work keeps with the historic nature of the community.

City Code Enforcement Officer William Knickerbocker added Grodinsky was much easier to get in touch with to fix problems years ago, before he took on many properties.

“There was a time when it wasn’t so bad,” Knickerbocker said.

Grodinsky could not be reached for comment.

According to the County Real Property Tax Service Office, the only two properties listed under Grodinsky’s name are 8 Monroe Heights and 21 W. Court St.

Mike Braun, president of the Student Government Association at SUNY Cortland, said his office sent about 85 official complaints to the Attorney General’s Office and he heard from the office last week that the investigation is still under way. A $500 security deposit is a big loss for some students, he added.

The city looks forward to the potential turnover of the properties, said City Director of Administration and Finance Mack Cook.

“Transferring these properties through the court proceedings that are ongoing has the potential of improving a situation that’s been less than desireable,” he said. “Responsible landlords who operate the business with integrity and fairness to their tenants and the students is in the best interest of the city and the college.”

Charles Ingraham, an attorney for Visions Federal Credit Union, did not return calls for comment.

Casey Aguglia, upstate press secretary for the Attorney General’s Office, said this morning the matter is an ongoing investigation. She directed students who have not filed a complaint or received a refund of their security deposits from one of Grodinsky’s properties to call the Attorney General’s Office at 315-448-4848.

“Those properties include Campus Habitats, LLC; College Hill Realty, LLC; Committed 2 Cortland, LLC; Cortland Habitats, Inc.; 77-79 Main Street, LLC;, Walk 2 Class, LLC; and Walk 2 Class Management, LLC,” she said in an email.