Trial over Armenian Genocide Museum Ends; Battle Continues
Posted 06 December 2010 - 12:13 PM
Trial over Armenian Genocide Museum Ends; Battle Continues
[ 2010/12/04 | 08:20 ] diasporaBy Michael Doyle
A bitter legal fight over a proposed Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial has only grown nastier, though the trial has ended.
The case pitting former allies against each other is in the hands of a federal judge, after a bench trial that concluded Monday. The costly, competing lawsuits have hindered construction of the museum, proposed for a site near the White House.
The dispute pitting the Armenian Assembly of America against a former benefactor also has provoked muscular legal maneuvers. One side contended earlier this week that Armenian Assembly witnesses had lied under oath. Armenian Assembly attorneys strongly reject that claim.
“The judge said she was hoping to issue a decision by the end of the year,” museum trustee Van Krikorian said Friday.
Krikorian is also a trustee of the Armenian Assembly, the nation’s largest nonpartisan Armenian-American advocacy organization. It draws considerable support from California’s San Joaquin Valley and other regions with sizable Armenian-American populations.
The Armenian Assembly initiated the genocide museum idea more than a decade ago. The nonprofit Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial Inc. now owns a former bank site on 14th Street Northwest, two blocks from the White House.
Planners bill the 50,000-square-foot project as a place to commemorate what they call “the 20th century’s first genocide,” the slaughter of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923.
“This place of gathering, this center for Americans and Armenians alike, will be a world-class museum,” the museum’s website says. It also says the facility “is slated for opening before 2011,” but this proved far too optimistic.
Instead, the dispute between museum officials and the Armenian Assembly on one side and retired businessman Gerard Cafesjian and his Cafesjian Family Foundation on the other has soaked up time, energy and money.
The Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial Inc. reported assets of $22.4 million and expenses of $1.5 million in 2008, the most recent year for which Internal Revenue Service filings are publicly available. Of those expenses, $941,799 covered legal fees.
The museum organization owes the District of Columbia about $190,000 in unpaid taxes this year, records from the Washington Office of Tax and Revenue show.
The museum “has incurred and will continue to incur substantial tax liability,” Armenian Assembly attorneys said in a brief, further explaining that the museum “has been unable to raise funds or engage in fundraising” because of the dispute.
The legal claims and counterclaims are complex.
Cafesjian made his fortune with West Publishing, a Minnesota company that handles legal publications. His family foundation pledged $15 million toward the museum, including purchasing the property.
“Cafesjian has dedicated his largess to the Armenian people, Armenian nation and Armenian causes,” his attorneys said in one legal filing.
Museum organizers, though, subsequently claimed that Cafesjian was interfering with the development in hopes of regaining the valuable property for his own purposes. They sued.
Cafesjian filed his own lawsuit, asserting that the museum’s board of directors shut him out of key decisions. He wants to reclaim ownership of the museum site; initially, he also sought to be repaid more than $1 million.
“In light of (the Armenian Assembly’s) refusal to let him participate and their attacks on him personally, it would be unjust to allow them to retain money that he donated,” Cafesjian’s attorneys said in a brief.
Starting Nov. 9, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly oversaw a bench trial that lasted 12 days.
On the trial’s last day, the Cafesjian attorneys filed an unusual, 21-page statement alleging “untruthful testimony” by four Armenian Assembly witnesses. The attorneys cited supposed discrepancies with earlier depositions.
Armenian Assembly attorneys, in turn, said in a filing Wednesday that they “stand behind the credibility” of the witnesses, and they called the Cafesjian attorneys’ claims “presumptuous.”
Posted 29 December 2010 - 06:21 AM
Excuse me but if one puts up millions has the right to participate in decision making.
Posted 29 December 2010 - 12:24 PM
Cafesjian don;t wish to be the milking cow
just look at the man in his age he has helped Armenia and Armenians sooo many ways
Posted 20 April 2013 - 02:06 PM
Washington Business Journal
April 19 2013
Michael NeibauerStaff Reporter- Washington Business Journal
The owner of three vacant commercial buildings in the heart of downtown
D.C., all tied inexorably to the sputtering Armenian Genocide Museum
project, has applied to knock them down.
What's better, a 5,700-square-foot vacant lot or three vacant
buildings? Pick your poison.
The Cafesjian Family Foundation of Minneapolis has submitted a
request to raze 1338, 1340 and 1342 G St. NW, all of which back up
to the historic but vacant National Bank of Washington building at
14th and G, which it also owns.
Representatives of the foundation, recorded as the owner of the
properties in July 2011, did not return calls for comment. All three
buildings were briefly classified by the District in 2012 as blighted,
until the foundation successfully appealed.
The properties to be razed are worth a combined $8.2 million, according
to D.C. assessors, but the value is entirely in the land.
I'm not aware of any proposals to build anew.
The bank building has long been planned as the future home of the
Armenian Genocide Museum, a memorial to 1.5 million Armenians killed
in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. The G Street properties,
too, were to be part of the project.
But the foundation and the nonprofit Armenian Genocide Museum and
Memorial are tied up in prolonged litigation (another appeal was filed
March 25 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit) over a relationship and donation gone bad, a lawsuit a
federal judge once described as "very bitter and very unforunate."
Here's the gist.
The bank building was acquired by the Armenian Assembly of America
early in 2000 for $7.25 million, using funds provided by multiple
donors, most notably $4 million from the Cafesjian Family Foundation,
according to court documents.
Gerard Cafesjian, a wealthy former publisher and Armenian
philanthropist, separately purchased the G Street properties the same
year for about $5.5 million, with the idea of turning them into a
contemporary art museum to complement the genocide museum. But the
art museum was built in the Armenian capital of Yerevan instead,
and Cafesjian conditionally agreed to donate the G Street buildings
to the Assembly for an expansion of the genocide museum.
The grant agreement between Cafesjian and the Armenian Genocide Museum
nonprofit, an arm of the Armenian Assembly, set Dec. 31, 2010, as
the point at which the properties would be returned if they weren't
developed. And that's exactly what happened.
Between 2002 and 2007, when the first of many lawsuits was filed, the
relationships between the various parties soured, badly. Fundraising
efforts for the estimated $100 million museum project stalled,
as did attempts to hire an architect or develop a business plan,
according to a 190-page federal court ruling issued Jan. 26, 2011.
"The Court sincerely hopes that after years of fighting legal battles,
the parties can put aside their differences and accomplish the
laudable goal of creating an Armenian Genocide museum and memorial,"
U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her
It's certainly not looking that way.
The 50,000-square-foot museum complex is in limbo, and based on a brief
conversation I had with a museum representative, I'm less confident
than ever that a museum will open in the bank building on 14th Street,
two blocks from the White House.
The raze, as I understand it, has little to do with the museum. More
likely, it is related to the District's attempted "blight"
classification, which would come with with a property tax rate six
times the standard commercial rate. Get rid of the building, get rid
of the tax bill.
The permit applications are under review by the Department of Consumer
and Regulatory Affairs. Workers were inside 1340 G on Friday clearing
it of asbestos in preparation for the demolition.
Michael Neibauer covers economic development, chambers of commerce,
transportation and politics
Posted 15 May 2015 - 08:11 AM
ARMENIAN GENOCIDE MUSEUM NIXED, SITE NOW SEEKING RETAILERS
May 14, 2015
By Rebecca Cooper
Washington Business Journal
The historic National Bank of Washington building, long a vacant
eyesore two blocks from the White House, may finally come to life,
as plans for the Armenian Genocide Museum there have been scrapped.
The Minneapolis-based Cafesjian Family Foundation Inc., which owns
the five-story bank building at 14th and G streets NW, is actively
marketing the building's 35,000 square feet to retail tenants.
The retail broker marketing the property isBethany Kazaba Scanlon of
the newly formed Neighborhood Retail Group. The group is affiliated
with Borger Management Inc., a D.C.-based real estate development
and management company that has managed the property for the past year.
The marketing materials for the space identify a number of possible
layouts, including a potential restaurant ith nearly 3,500 square
feet split on three levels as well as a nearly 16,000-square-foot
"flagship retail" space.
Scanlon said she's already had interest from high-end fashion and
other retailers, as well as tenants who may be interested in leasing
the entire building.
"There are a number of different leasing options to be considered,"
she said. "We'd love to have a museum as part of the project, however
we're also looking at other strategies."
The Armenian Genocide Museum of America, which went through an ugly
legal battle with the property owner for the past several years,
is no longer pursuing a museum at the site, said Rouben Adalian,
director of the Armenian Genocide Museum.
The group is actively looking for another site in D.C. for the
museum, and in April, the Armenian Assembly of America, one of
the groups involved in the legal battle, announced the launch of a
"state-of-the-art online museum" to coincide with the centennial of
the persecution of the Armenian people, Adalian said.
At the National Bank of Washington building, another potential flagship
restaurant configuration identified in the brochure would locate the
restaurant's entrance and bar on the main level, with dining room
space in the lower level former bank vault and a 2,600 square foot
rooftop bar .
The bank building has remained empty for the better part of two
decades even as D.C.'s downtown economy surged; longtime residents may
remember it for its deteriorating "Hahn Shoes" awnings. In the last
year, the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District has attempted
to mask the fallow space at street level.
"This is a monumental opportunity, and we're going to look for a
monumental use," Scanlon said. The building, which was added to the
National Register of Historic Places in 1994, was built in 1926.
The Cafesjian Family Foundation also owns three adjacent vacant parcels
that total 12,000 square feet and are currently being marketed for
sale. The bank building, however, is not for sale.
The listing is a high-profile one for Scanlon, who co-founded
Neighborhood Restaurant Group with Thomas and Joseph Borger in March
after working for JBGR Retail for several years. Her career also
includes stints as sales manager at the trade publication Hanley Wood
and in home remodeling with a home renovation firm.
Neighborhood Retail Group is in the process of building its team to
manage the retail leasing at Borger's portfolio of properties as well
as to grow the group's third-party landlord representation business.
Posted 16 May 2015 - 02:05 PM
was standing across the street only a week a go... shame... politics politics politics
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