Selina sues former Woodstock Lodge owner

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Selina Woodstock, the burgeoning international work/stay company that bought The Lodge at Woodstock last spring — and has been mired in zoning conflicts ever since — filed a lawsuit against The Lodge’s former owner Michael Skurnick and his various business aliases from which it bought the property — and who it hired to manage its renovation recently. 

But despite seeking to “rescind the Purchase and Sale Agreement, the Mortgage, and the Development Agreement” from Skurnick, along with damages “no less than $2,500,000, plus attorneys’ fees, costs and interests,” representatives of Selina said this week that they remain committed to bringing their business to Woodstock.

Selina, a highly-financed new tourism platform started by two Israeli businessmen in Latin America and now owning dozens of properties around the globe while developing dozens more, is seeking to renovate what once was The Lodge (and before that, The Pinecrest) on Country Club Lane in the neighborhood located directly behind the Woodstock Elementary School. The company wants to transform what had been a bar/restaurant with pool and a number of cabin rentals (for which it paid nearly $2.8 million) into “not just accommodation” but a destination that “combines boutique accommodation with coworking, wellness and experiences…designed to help people of all backgrounds and budgets come together to live, work and explore.” 

Advertisement

The new lawsuit, filed with the Ulster County Clerk on September 20, charges Skurnick, MHS Worldwide Holdings III LLC, Country Club Spirits LLC, and MS Construction Management of Woodstock, LLC with various instances of fraud for having “made material misrepresentations to Plaintiffs concerning the status of a zoning law violation that Skurnick and MHS themselves had caused through illegal construction,” and “rather than remedy the violation that Skurnick had caused, Skurnick deliberately represented that there were no open zoning law violations to Plaintiffs [Selina] to induce Plaintiffs to purchase the Property from MHS and CCS and retain his alter-ego MS Construction to undertake development and renovation of the Lodge.”

Continuing, Selina’s lawsuit notes how Skurnick started telling them he had all permits in place for the property months before the sale was finalized, while knowing that the zoning situation he’d become enmeshed in would prevent Selina’s “pursuing the construction, renovation and use of the Lodge contemplated in Selina Operation’s purchase of the Property and in Selina Real Estate’s assent to the terms of the development agreement with MS Construction.” Selina ended up buying in December of 2018. 

Skurnick and his companies, Selina says, sold the property based on its permits…and also negotiated a mortgage with the international company. He represented himself as a well-known local developer and property management company…but only formed MS Construction on the same day that Selina bought the property.

The lawsuit finally notes the fact that Skurnick’s various businesses all share his address, and payment checks from Selina all went into his personal bank account. 

“He used the LLCs as his alter-egos to insulate himself from liability,” the Selina lawsuit says of Skurnick before going on to detail the entire zoning history he had with Woodstock throughout his ownership of the Lodge, which he bought from its previous owners for a little under $1.1 million in 2016.

Placeholder Article 78

Concurrent with the new lawsuit, filed by attorneys Ryan Roach & Riley LLP of Kingston and Pryor Cashman LLP of New York City, Selina also filed an Article 78 lawsuit against the Woodstock zoning board of appeals through another New York law firm, Sive, Paget & Riesel, P.C, which its partner Steven Barshov said was a “placeholder” designed to counter the zoning board’s negation of earlier building permits that had been issued by Woodstock’s building department. 

Barshov said that the new lawsuit doesn’t affect his action, or Selina’s commitment to renovate the Lodge into its new Woodstock facility. He said that the company, and he, are currently working on septic needs regarding the property, including suggestions that it be joined to the town’s wastewater treatment system. And simultaneously reaching out to neighbors to alleviate any and all concerns they might have in regards to parking, noise, lights, and any other matter of possible contention.

“More than ever, Selina remains committed to breathing new life into the former Lodge property and creating a place that brings locals and travelers together for experiences that reflect the spirit of the Woodstock community,” noted Selina president Yoav Gery in a statement for Woodstock Times, while traveling internationally (according to his senior director of Account Strategy.) “We hope to continue working collaboratively with our neighbors and the Town and Planning Boards to move forward.”

Post Your Thoughts