svc offers

Another offer has been filed in bankruptcy court for the campus of the former Southern Vermont College

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BENNINGTON — There are now potentially three bidders for the former Southern Vermont College campus, with the possibility a sale could be approved as early as Dec. 11.

Vermont RE Development, LLC, which according to records posted with the Secretary of State’s office is controlled by businessman and investor Pavel Belogour, has submitted an offer for the 371-acre Bennington campus of $3,250,000.

The offer was certified as qualified by bankruptcy court trustee Raymond Obuchowski, who is representing the campus estate and overseeing dispersal of the assets, in a filing Monday with the court.

Belogour is associated with Viking Farms in Guilford and has acquired properties and acreage in Brattleboro and other towns in that area.

In 1988, he founded Boston Merchant Management Services — later known as Boston Merchant Financial Services.

That offer joins a qualified offer for $3.2 million from Southwestern Vermont Health Care, the parent corporation of the medical center in Bennington, which also has been certified by Obuchowski.

In addition, the operator of summer camps for youth over the summer on the campus, Moshe Perlstein, has indicated he will make an offer the property.

While Perlstein has demonstrated he has the financial ability to conclude the purchase, he has yet to put up a required 10 percent deposit, Obuchowski said Monday.

However, the camp operator on Friday filed an emergency motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court-Vermont, seeking to delay a deadline of Monday at 4 p.m. for making a qualified offer.

Perlstein’s attorney, Carl Lisman, of Lisman Leckerling of Burlington, also filed a motion seeking access to a $300,000 security deposit Perlstein put up when leasing the campus for youth camps in July and August, saying he wants to use that money in making an offer for the campus.

The $300,000 deposit has been placed by the court under control of Obuchowski as Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee, after he filed a motion seeking that change in light of what he termed “significant damage” to campus buildings during the youth camps.

Perlstein on Friday denied that there was any damage other than with normal use of the property, and he said he invested some $500,000 in improvements, such as for air conditioning in the athletic center.

Judge Colleen Brown issued an order late Friday, granting Perlstein’s motion in part but also seeking to avoid a delay of the Dec. 11 hearing.

The order gave Obuchowski and other parties until 1 p.m. Monday to file objections to Perlstein’s motions, and objections were filed by Obuchowski, the health care organization, and by Community Bank, which is the largest creditor of the former college, owed some $5.5 million.

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CONFERENCE SETBrown also scheduled a videoconference for Tuesday morning on the emergency motion regarding use of the $300,000 security deposit, and for Perlstein to “show cause why he should not be required to post a $300,000 bond in consideration of being granted the opportunity to apply the $300,000 deposit to his sale offer … .”

The deadline for submission of qualified offers for the campus also was moved to Tuesday at 4 p.m., according to the ruling, pending any change following the morning videoconference hearing.

Judge Brown said in her order Friday that Perlstein had shown cause for an emergency hearing and opportunity to present his arguments regarding access to the security deposit. But she also determined that “it is in the best interest of the [college] estate not to postpone the sale … .”

During the scheduled Dec. 11 hearing on qualified offers for the main campus, the parties will have an opportunity to raise the highest bid by a minimum of $50,000 until there is a successful bidder and the court subsequently approves a sale agreement.

The SVC Gate House property on 2.28 acres on Monument Avenue also is expected to go into the bidding process at the Dec. 11 hearing.

SVHC has offered $300,000 for that real estate, and Kenneth Milman and his wife, Bridget Elder, of Bennington, have entered an offer of $320,000. Both have been qualified.

PRIOR OFFERWhile the camps for Orthodox Jewish teens from the New Jersey-New York City area were in progress over the summer, Perstein also held a purchase and sale agreement to acquire the campus for $3,150,000.

That agreement with the former college board of trustees was concluded in June and expired in late September, Obuchowski has said, and he said in October that the property was then open for new potential buyers to make an offer.

SVHC filed its offer in mid-November. Officials have said they want to work with the town on developing a long-term plan for use of the campus.

Perstein said he might bring a school to the campus, adding that he has been contacted by schools in the state that might want to locate there but lack the resources to purchase the campus.

He did not rule out more youth camps while saying he also wants to work with the town and residents on use of the property. He said he believes he can overcome criticism of the operation and complaints from neighbors about excessive noise emanating from the camps.

The town also took the youth camp to court over repeated noise complaints.

Belogour could not be reached Monday for comment.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont. Email jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com

Reporter/editor

Jim Therrien reports for the three Vermont News and Media newspapers in Southern Vermont. He previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Springfield Republican, and the former North Adams Transcript.


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