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Controversial Self-Storage Developer Settles $15M Foreclosure Case in Garfield, NJ

Real estate developer Central Bergen Properties reached a settlement last month with Wells Fargo in a foreclosure case involving a Safe and Secure Self Storage LLC facility in Garfield, N.J. Central Bergen owed $15 million on a $25 million mortgage from 2003, which matured in 2014. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed in court papers, according to the source. Due to the settlement, a U.S. district judge in Trenton, N.J., agreed to dismiss the foreclosure case filed against Central Bergen and its general partner Anthony V. Pugliese, who founded Safe and Secure.

Real estate developer Central Bergen Properties reached a settlement last month with Wells Fargo in a foreclosure case involving a Safe and Secure Self Storage LLC facility in Garfield, N.J. Central Bergen owed $15 million on a $25 million mortgage from 2003, which matured in 2014. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed in court papers, according to the source. Due to the settlement, a U.S. district judge in Trenton, N.J., agreed to dismiss the foreclosure case filed against Central Bergen and its general partner Anthony V. Pugliese, who founded Safe and Secure.

Following the foreclosure dismissal, a judge in the U.S. District Bankruptcy Court in Newark, N.J., dismissed a related Chapter 11 case filed by Pugliese, the source reported. The self-storage facility at 141 Lanza Ave. is on a property Central Bergen purchased in 1983, which included a 1.1 million-square-foot warehouse. The 2003 mortgage was secured through property leases and rental agreements, including one from Safe and Secure, which rented space from Central Bergen, the source reported.

After Wells Fargo filed its foreclosure action, a court-appointed receiver in that case filed suit against Safe and Secure, arguing the self-storage operator owed $9.5 million in back rent that should have been applied to paying off the mortgage, according to the source.

The Wells Fargo settlement was announced shortly after Pugliese began serving a six-month jail sentence in Palm Beach County, Fla. The jail term stems from a separate case in which Pugliese pleaded no contest in August to fraud charges accusing him of using fake companies and phony billings to steal $1 million from former business partner Frederick DeLuca in another business venture, the source reported. As part of his plea agreement, Pugliese agreed to pay DeLuca $1.2 million in restitution.

Pugliese became well known in the self-storage industry in 2009 when he launched Safe and Secure Automated Self Storage Systems, a 72,000-square-foot automated facility in Coconut Creek, Fla. The facility used computers and robotics to assist customers, and advertised other features such as 24-hour access, full power backup, and high-tech security monitoring and surveillance. It was reportedly the first self-storage facility worldwide to use the Automated Self Storage Systems technology. Following a foreclosure judgment on the property, it went up for public auction in 2011.

Safe and Secure lists current self-storage locations in Belleville and Garfield, N.J., on its website.

Sources:

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