Anti-Eviction Mapping Project highlights Urban Green's record of displacement

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The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s latest creation illustrates the eviction history of Urban Green Investments, a San Francisco-based real estate company that was recently put in the spotlight with its controversial attempted eviction of 98-year-old Mary Elizabeth Phillips.

The Mapping Project’s graphic shows the properties owned by Urban Green and its affiliates, assets that number 385 units in more than 15 buildings. According to the Mapping Project, they have displaced “numerous tenants in the San Francisco Bay Area,” led by the efforts of CEO David McCloskey.

“The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project created this map to expose how large and interconnected the Urban Green and McCloskey network is," said Erin McElroy of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project. "We have been shocked at how many tenants they have pushed out and in how many cities they are flipping properties."

Urban Green's website advertises the company as a "fully integrated real estate company with brokerage, property management and development capacities." The company's strategy is to acquire property, then add value by "increasing efficiencies, enhancing entitlements, and employing carefully calibrated green renovations.”

In recent years, Urban Green has been busy displacing tenants, including in October 2012, when it purchased a multi-family portfolio with 130 units in San Francisco. According to the Mapping Project, the company is involved in around 40 LLCs, “many of which they use to evict tenants and then flip buildings.”

“Companies like Urban Green wouldn’t be evicting tenants like Mary Phillips if we stopped the profiting of buying up then evicting whole buildings just to sell them quickly,” San Francisco Tenants Union Director Ted Gullicksen said in a statement. “We need to pass a surtax on transfers of apartment buildings within five years of last sale this November if we are to stop these displacement practices of speculators like Urban Green.”

Gullicksen referred to the anti-speculation tax that tenant activists and progressive members of the Board of Supervisors has place on the November ballot. Representatives of Urban Green have not returned Guardian calls for comment, but we’ll update this post if and when we hear back.  

Even residents outside the Bay Area have not escaped the reach of the McCloskey family, which has a long history of evictions. Urban Green is currently a subsidiary of the business run by David McCloskey’s Thomas McCloskey: Cornerstone Holdings. The family owns property in Colorado (where Cornerstone is based), New York, Hawaii, and California, according to the Mapping Project. Perhaps most controversially, the family owns 300 acres of land in Hawaii, called Kealia Kai, which greatly angered the Kaua`i people in the 1990s. After buying the land for $17 million, McCloskey unsuccessfully attempted to build a private beach community with his land.

More than 2,000 miles of sea separate Hawaii from Phillips’ apartment, but the residents of both areas are suffering similar fates at the hands of the McCloskeys. And though Urban Green stated last week that it would not continue its attempt to evict Phillips, attorney Steve Collier of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic issued a statement making it clear that the company’s efforts are not over. According to Collier, Urban Green's new strategy is to force out Brant, which would remove Phillips by default because she relies on Brant's care.

"This has been my home for over 40 years and I don't want to leave. . . I am just too old," said Phillips, according to the Mapping Project's website. "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."