NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Financial records obtained by Talk of the Sound from the City of New Rochelle under a Freedom of Information request show that the New Rochelle Development Department, operating under a $177,000 Purchase Order dated June 22, 2016, for Crafted Creative, has spent $133,000 so far on the “Ideally Yours” web site, promotional videos and related material and content.
Crafted Creative is a marketing firm based in New York City.
Crafted Creative invoiced the City of New Rochelle for a total of $133,000 $143,000over a four month period in 2016: $30,500 on June 10, 2016 for “Ideally Yours” Video Features Phase I, another $12,000 on July 28, 2016 for Visual Design and Specs/Gateways, another $42,000 on August 23, 2016 for “Ideally Yours” Video Features Phase II, another $38,500 on October 25, 2016 for Marketing Website Development and $10,000 for Web Site Print Brochure.
Not included among the invoices is the actual final cost of the web site, costs related to changes to the web site since launch in February 2017, photography licensing and print production. Talk of the Sound has filed a follow-up request for these and any other related invoices.
As reported previously, the New Rochelle Department of Development launched the Ideally Yours website, funded by the City’s Industrial Development Agency, three months ago. The web site features a video where “visitors will virtually meet a group of entrepreneurs from three distinct industries who exemplify New Rochelle’s commitment to foster culture, community, and creativity.”
The three featured entrepreneurs are Alvin Clayton, owner of Alvin & Friends Restaurant, Martin and Margaret Barreto, owners of Crossfit1134, and David Krinick, owner of MESH Print.
The website contains four videos, one featuring each of three businesses and the main video featuring all three businesses. Each video is narrated by the business owners.
Much of the web site features images of, and narration from, Alvin Clayton, one of the owners of eponymously-named Alvin & Friends. Clayton has fast become the public face of development in New Rochelle. As we reported last week, Alvin Clayton (and his restaurant) appeared prominently in a campaign commercial produced by New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson’s County Executive campaign in 2013. Bramson appears in the Ideally Yours videos with Clayton.
In his video he says “a lot of people give us credit for being that spark that started the downtown resurgence”.
Alvin & Friends has not paid its New York State sales tax for years and currently has a lien for unpaid sales tax of $117,317, according to a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance. The restaurant operates out of a building at 14 Memorial Highway, owned in part by his business partners in the restaurant, that has routinely failed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes to the City of New Rochelle, the City School District of New Rochelle and Westchester County.
The City of New Rochelle was aware that Alvin & Friends was not paying sales tax and the building owners were not paying their property taxes long before choosing to feature the restaurant in the Ideally Yours promotional efforts.
Shotokan Karate, doing business as Crossfit Echo Bay and Crossfit1134 rented space from the City of New Rochelle at the New Rochelle Marina in 2014. By April 2016, “Crossfit1134” was late paying its rent. It stopped paying rent altogether in July 2016 and the City applied the security deposit to cover the rent in July and August 2016. The business was responsible to pay a portion of the Con Edison bill which it also failed to pay. By December 2016, “Crossfit1134” was evicted from the space at 2 Pelham Road but not before racking up past due rent of $25,030 and $12,096.71 in Con Edison charges. The City of New Rochelle waived the Con Edison charges and, after applying the security deposit, was left holding the bag for $17,230.10 in rent.
The timeline suggests that the City of New Rochelle went forward with video production and web site development featuring “Crossfit1134” long after it was apparent that the business was failing and was unable to pay rent to the City for the location where a portion of the video was shot. The timing raises questions as to why the City of New Rochelle gave the business four months beyond using up the security deposit and why the Development Department went forward with promoting a business it knew to be failing and even launched a web site featuring “Crossfit1134” months after the business was shuttered.
In his video, Martin Baretto says “I got burnt out and finally one day came, I was in a meeting, and I started to have chest pains and at that point in time I knew it wasn’t worth not being with my family.”
Sources tell Talk of the Sound that “Crossfit1134” began to fall apart as a result of divorce proceedings between the Barettos.
The City of New Rochelle “solved” the problem of promoting a defunct business by keeping the video but swapping in a new company, CrossFit POP, in the hope that no one would notice the difference.
In his video, David Krinick talks about fellow millennials and says “living in New Rochelle has been so good for me.”
David Krinick’s address, as given in his web site registration, is 14 Premium Point, a property owned by Jill Krinick, David’s mother. The Zillow Sale Estimate for the home is in the range of $1 million dollars with a Zillow Rent Estimate of $8,372. MESH Prints operates out of a commercial storefront location at 47 Potter Avenue owned by Nolan Krinick, David’s father. Rent on that space is about $2,500 a month.
It appears then that David Krinick is able to live and work in New Rochelle because his Mom and Dad provide him a free place to live and a free place to operate his business.
In his video, David Krinick says “at MESH Prints we have turned into a music venue…it’s a place where musicians can program their own shows. We’re going to have workshops…lessons…salons, gatherings.”
Actually, it cannot. MESH Prints does not have a “public assembly”, “place of assembly” or “cabaret” license to stage public performances in its commercial office space. The musical performance depicted in the video is an illegal assembly, violating both New Rochelle building codes and fire codes.
Some have questioned why taxpayer funds should be used to promote businesses that do not pay taxes, promote illegal activities, do not fulfill their lease payment obligations to the City or, in the case of “Crossfit1134”, were out of business long before the Ideally Yours website was launched.
New Rochelle Development Commissioner Luiz Aragon told Talk of the Sound he plans to update the video. Based on existing invoices, that can be expected to cost an additional $50,000 plus costs to update the website to reflect the new videos.
The “Crossfit1134” video and the Alvin & Friends video are featured on the Crafted Creative website.