A Triple Five-affiliate company is suing a Luminati Aerospace-owned company over the right to a 16-acre parcel of land along the 10,000-foot runway in Calverton where Luminati Aerospace once operated.
Triple Five and Luminati Aerospace are joint venture partners in Calverton Aviation & Technology, the company in a $40 million land deal with the Town of Riverhead.
At issue is the fate of property at 400 David Court, which Luminati Aerospace purchased from Skydive Long Island in 2015 through a wholly owned limited liability company, 400 David Court LLC.
The Luminati-owned LLC is being sued by Wings Air Helicopters, a helicopter charter and tour company based in Westchester that is affiliated with Triple Five.
Both entities are limited liability companies, a structure which is often used to allow companies to isolate business risks from their other operations, reducing potential risks to those operations from legal claims or disputes. It also can obscure the entity’s ownership.
During Calverton Aviation & Technology’s “qualified and eligible sponsor hearing” in 2018, leading up to the town signing the land deal with CAT, Triple Five Chairman Nader Ghermezian told the town board that Wings Air was a Triple Five company that Triple Five was interested in bringing to the Calverton site. Wings Air was one of several companies Ghermezian said the Triple Five conglomerate “had” that could locate at Calverton, bringing high-tech jobs to the enterprise park. See: Hearing transcript, page 217.
Ghermezian described Wings Air as “a state-of-art helicopter design and innovation” company. “We have a new production line development and manufacturing that we are also considering to see how we can bring it here,” Ghermezian said.
Chris Kent, attorney for Calverton Aviation & Technology, did not respond to an emailed questions from RiverheadLOCAL about Wings Air, Triple Five and the pending lawsuit.
Wings Air Helicopters, which was founded in 2002, is owned by pilot Javier Diaz, according to the company website. It runs charters and tours in the New York metro region, including flights to and from Manhattan and the Hamptons. The website makes no mention of helicopter design or production, as stated by Ghermezian during the 2018 hearing.
Diaz did not return a call or text message this week seeking confirmation of a business relationship between Wings Air and Triple Five.
Wings Air is suing the Luminati-owned 400 David Court LLC to enforce a June 2022 contract to buy the Calverton site for $8 million.
Wings Air claims that on Nov. 1, the Luminati-owned 400 David Court LLC entered into a “secret side agreement” with another company to sell the same property to 400 David Court Holdings LLC of Patchogue for $7.5 million. That “side agreement” violated the contract between 400 David Court LLC and Wings Air Helicopters LLC, which prohibited 400 David Court from negotiating with any other party or signing any other agreement to sell the site while the contract was in force, according to the Wings Air complaint.
Wings Air named the third party, 400 David Court Holdings LLC, as a co-defendant in the suit.
The 400 David Court Holdings company has also brought suit against the Luminati-owned company, seeking performance under its own contract to buy the property.
Triple Five is not a party to the lawsuit.
A Triple Five spokesperson said Triple Five has no interest in the 400 David Court LLC entity owned by Luminati.
“Triple Five was, and remains, an investor in Wings Air Helicopters,” the spokesperson, Gary Lewi, said in a statement responding to RiverheadLOCAL’s inquiry about whether Triple Five owns Wings Air.
“To be clear, Triple Five is not suing its partner in [Calverton Aviation & Technology],” Lewi said, referring to Luminati Aerospace.
Luminati Aerospace owns 100% of 400 David Court LLC, according to documents filed in court.
“The defendants in the lawsuit are 400 David Court LLC and 400 David Court Holdings LLC,” Lewi said. “While Luminati Aerospace LLC may own one of the defendant entities, Triple Five has no interest in, and is not a partner with, either defendant,” Lewi said in an email last week.
The defendants in the lawsuit have until June 21 to answer or move against the Wings Air complaint.
Luminati Aerospace was owned by Daniel Preston, who died in January at his home in Little Falls, New York at age 52. In July 2022, Preston, who was then terminally ill, signed a power of attorney form on appointing a man named Dennis Walsh as his attorney in fact. Walsh was appointed CEO of Luminati Aerospace on Aug. 1, 2022 according to court documents. Preston was still the sole member (owner) of Luminati Aerospace at that time. The ownership of Luminati following Preston’s death is not clear from court documents or public records.
Preston brought Triple Five to Riverhead as Luminati’s partner in Calverton Aviation & Technology late in 2017. Luminati Aerospace is a 25% owner of Calverton Aviation & Technology and, according to Triple Five officials and an operating agreement submitted during the qualified and eligible sponsor process, has no management role in the CAT.
Luminati left Calverton in 2019, dogged by numerous legal and financial woes. Preston said he was relocating Luminati’s operations to the City of Little Falls.
The lawsuit is still in its early stages and the fate of the property at 400 David Court remains unknown.
If Wings Air Helicopters is successful in court and completes its purchase of the site, it plans to operate its helicopter transportation business there.
“Wings is in the business of flying passenger helicopters to and from Suffolk County and the New York City metropolitan region,” Wings Air states in its complaint. “The Property is extremely unique as it provides for the ability to carry on Wings’ air travel business on 16.37 acred of land.”
None of the court documents indicate how 400 David Court Holdings LLC plans to use the property if it is successful in obtaining title.
The parcel was part of the 492-acre “industrial core” sold by the town to developer Jan Burman in 2001 and is not part of the 1,644 acres the town is currently in contract to sell to Calverton Aviation & Technology.
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