It’s a sad story, really, but not for the reasons that you might believe.
In 1961, Coking and her husband bought the property at 127 South Columbia Place as a summertime retreat for $20,000. By the time it was auctioned off in 2014, the decrepit three-story boardinghouse half a block from the boardwalk, the property had a minimum bid of $199,000. The was roughly one – tenth the amount offered by Donald Trump over a decade earlier. Hailed as a hero by by many and “the poor elderly woman” who was the victim of Donald Trump’s desire for imminent domain, Vera Coking lost out on the “big payoff” and was headed to a nursing home with nothing to show for her time or efforts.
In a nationally publicized New Jersey court case in 1998, a judge sided with Coking when Trump tried to use the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to acquire the home through eminent domain. The ruling was celebrated as a victory for private property owners who have been pressured by casinos to give up their land.
She was feisty and she was the subject of many stories during the 1990’s. Along with two other holdouts, a pawnshop and an Italian restaurant called Sabatini’s, Ms. Coking prevailed in State Supreme Court, which ruled the city had no right to take the properties for the purported public use of a new casino. Clare Sabatini had run Sabatini’s Restaurant with her husband, Vince, for decades when the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority tried to take the property for a Trump Plaza expansion after the couple turned down a $700,000 offer. The battle turned into fodder for the comic strip “Doonesbury,” and the couple eventually got three times the original offer when they agreed to sell in 2005. Sabatini’s restaurant received $2.1 million and a pawnshop sold for $1.6 million. Their lots became part of a large lawn flanking a taxi stand for Trump’s casino.
Vera Coking decided to hold out for the “big payoff”. She was not in it for the principle, she actually decided to hold out for more money. Whatever price she had in mind, no one could ever meet it, including Mr. Trump, who recalled offering as much as $4 million as well as a room for life at any of his properties. And this was not the first offer she received. In the 1980s, Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse, also made offers in the seven figures to clear the way for a casino of his own.
Ms. Coking and her family, unlike the others, lost their shot at a “big payout.” Vera Coking remained in her house until 2010, when she moved to a retirement home in the San Francisco Bay Area near her daughter, Claudia Casey Coking and her grandchildren, Ed Casey, Raymond Casey and Claudia Casey- Fernandez. She also blamed Trump for the impasse in negotiations for her property. “He thinks he’s God,” she said in a 2006 interview with The Press of Atlantic City.
The family then tried to sell the house, putting it on the market in 2011 with an initial asking price of $5 million. By September 2013 the price had reduced to $1 million, but it still did not sell as Atlantic City continued to suffer the lingering effects of the financial crisis of 2007–08 and over-building during the boom that preceded it.
By 2014 there had been a few offers, but none high enough to satisfy the family members. And the family had to settle for what they could get. Neither the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority nor the owners of Trump Plaza expressed any interest in the auction. The actual buyer was The buyer was Carl Icahn, who held the debt on Trump Entertainment, owner of Trump Plaza. In the end, the home is uninhabitable, according to an “order to vacate” that hangs outside. The upper floors too unsafe to have anyone venture upstairs. Some of the rooms remained neat while others had evidence of drug paraphernalia. Ms. Coking was living only in rooms on the first floor through a back window, dishes could still still be seen in the sink. Mr. Icahn subsequently demolished the asbestos-filled house.Wikipedia.
Was Ms. Coking a victim? No she was not a victim of progress or imminent domain, but time proved that she was a victim of her own miscalculation and maybe her own pride. Pride gets in the way all the time. It’s always comes back to bite you. Or maybe…. she just loved the run down place. As her grandson said, ” A few million dollars may sound like a lot, but it’s not for the place she loved.” If you do the real tally: After all the fees and taxes are paid (including expensive California income tax), she is only going to get a fraction of that sale amount. Additionally, she has had to pay taxes and maintenance fees on the building while it has been empty (for months, years?), generating zero income while she was trying to find a buyer. Further, The $4 M Trump offered her in the 1990’s would be the equivalent today of about $10 M.
Jim Whelan, , who serves in the New Jersey State Senate where he represents the 2nd legislative district, is among those who place some of the blame for Atlantic City’s decline on Ms. Coking. “I wouldn’t say it was her singularly, but the climate she and other holdouts created,” he said. “It scared off development, and maybe the city wouldn’t be so reliant on gaming. A lot of people’s boats came in, and they wouldn’t get on.”
The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino closed shortly afterwards, due to lack of business. Contrary to the Cruz ad, Trump did not bulldoze the hose, Vera was not a victim and the story ended in a Pyrrhic victory for Vera’s family.
Nothing good to see here. Just a poor business decision. Anything else is a blatant untruth.
Read more at: http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/breaking/asking-price-drops-on-house-vera-coking-refused-to-sell/article_70e10cfc-6855-5fab-a1fe-f9cdfdba584f.html