by Tim Gannon
A Stamford, Conn.-based company that loaned Luminati Aerospace $10 million in 2016 is now taking the company to court, claiming it has defaulted on that loan. Hexcel Corporation is asking the courts to seize property belonging to Luminati at the Enterprise Park at Calverton in order to turn it over to them, and they are also asking that the due date on the loan be accelerated so it is due immediately.
The property in question has a value of about $7.4 million, according to an affidavit from Brett Schneider, president of Global Fibers, a business unit of Hexcel, a commercial aerospace, industrial development and space and defense contractor.
Hexcel filed the lawsuit in State Supreme Court March 18, as first reported by RiverheadLocal.
Luminati, meanwhile, is also facing eviction from property at EPCAL owned by Laoudis of Calverton, which leases former Grumman Plant 6 to Luminati. That case is on the docket for Riverhead Town Justice Court Wednesday.
Luminati Aerospace is owned by Daniel Preston, and owns 25 percent of Calverton Aviation & Technology, the company in contract to buy 1,643 acres of land at EPCAL from Riverhead Town for $40 million. Triple Five Group, which is best known for building large shopping malls like the Mall of America in Minnesota, owns the other 75 percent of CAT.
The 1,643 acres are currently vacant and are not involved inHexcel’s lawsuit against Luminati.
The lawsuit also names 400 David Court LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Luminati, as a defendant. The former Skydive Long Island Property, which Luminati purchased in 2016 for $3.4 million, is listed on the town’s tax map at 400 David Court.
The loan from Hexcel was due by May 12, 2023, according to court documents, but the contract gives Hexcel the authority to accelerate the due date if Luminati is found to be in default of the agreement.
The lawsuit claims Luminati is in default because it failed to pay taxes on the property, as required in the loan agreement, and failed to adequately maintain insurance on equipment and other collateral property that was pledged as security for the loan.
Hexcel claims in its complaint that Luminati has failed to deliver the collateral equipment it has sought to have turned over.
The lawsuit also asks that Luminati be made to pay all expenses incurred by Hexcel in enforcing the property seizure.
Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, who opposed declaring CAT “qualified and eligible” to buy and develop the EPCAL land in November, but was outvoted 3-2, said the town is looking into the possible impact of the Hexcel lawsuit.
“We have reached out to our attorneys who have been working on this contract with us to see if there is, in fact, anything we need to do because of this,” she said. “We have not yet received an answer back.”
She said Luminati still doesn’t have a certificate of occupancy to operate from the former Plant 6 site.
Luminati first received a runway use agreement from Riverhead Town in 2015, the same year it purchased the former Skydive Long Island property at EPCAL.
Initially, the company said it planned to build solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles that would provide wireless internet. It said it was working with a client which was a Fortune 250 company that they could not disclose publicly. That partner, who later dropped out of the arrangement with Luminati, was Facebook, according to former supervisor Sean Walter.
After a deal to sell about 600 acres at EPCAL to a company called Suffolk Industrial fell apart, Mr. Walter announced that Luminati was seeking to buy all of the remaining land the town owned at EPCAL.
Luminati then joined forces with United Refining Company, headed by billionaire John Catsimatidis, to purchase the EPCAL land, but that deal also disintegrated. The company has since partnered with Triple Five Group to form Calverton Aviation and Technology.
After controversy arose regarding numerous lawsuits filed against Mr. Preston in connection with prior business ventures, Triple Five said Luminati would own only 25 percent of CAT and would be a non-voting member.
Still, Triple Five chairman Nader Ghermezian told the News-Review in March 2018 that Mr. Preston holds more than 100 patents for inventions that could be valuable.
Mr. Preston’s voicemail was full, and he did not respond to a text message seeking comment this week.
Officials from Triple Five Group could not be reached for comment Monday.
Caption: Daniel Preston, CEO of Luminati, speaks at a press event in June 2016. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)