Goldberg’s company, Whoopi Inc., is accused in a Garden State lawsuit of helping to plot to oust the longtime developer of a plan to revitalize downtown West Orange.
Prism Capital Partners was selected to help redevelop the community’s downtown in 2006, but the project, which incorporates 21 acres on Main Street in suburban Essex County, has languished.
Its mission was to “revamp the historic Thomas Edison Battery Building and surrounding grounds with thousands of square feet of retail space and hundreds of units of housing,” according to a report in New Jersey Patch.
In May, the township declared Prism in default of their agreement, which was terminated in June.
Now Prism claims skyrocketing property values during the pandemic prompted town officials to give their company the boot, in a bid to rezone the property and sell it to a different development group, which includes Whoopi Inc., according to court papers.
In addition to Goldberg’s company, the lawsuit names West Orange officials and other real estate developers as defendants.
Prism wants the development agreement restored, along with $50 million in damages for the allegedly “opportunistic and nefarious scheme to acquire the property for below market value so they can use the land for a sound studio.”
Prism principal partner Eugene Diaz said in a statement to The Post on Saturday afternoon: “West Orange Township changed its mind from creating a residential neighborhood around our Edison Lofts property. They asked us to speak to Ms. Goldberg concerning her company’s interest in a small studio. Those conversations grew into something larger, and once we presented that deal to the Town they decided to cut Prism out of the deal and take the property for less money than we paid for it in 2007 – so they could negotiate a deal directly with Ms. Goldberg’s company. … They are not only trying to avoid paying the $20 million owed but they are trying to profit by being a middleman that flips the property to Ms. Goldberg.”
Goldberg could not be reached for comment.
West Orange Mayor Robert D. Parisi said the town “categorically denies” the allegations, noting Prism has had “almost 15 years to complete Phase II of this project and despite approvals, have failed to live up to their commitments.”