Back country follies

20 Langhorne is back on the market with new owner/builders and a new price, $5.995, for which they will build you a 9,100 sq.ft. home on its five acres. This was once another of the ill-fated Patriot Bank/Jinhua Tsoi collaborations, where Patriot would provide (lots of) money and Mr. Tsoi would build an unsalable home. Other people’s money flowed like water and the energetic Mr. Tsoi did his worst: Langhorne, Montgomery Lane, Byfield, Boulder Brook – I’m sure there were other disasters out there, but you get the drift.

In any event, Tsoi paid $1.9 for this collection of rock and swampland and Patriot, being the inscrutable geniuses they are, loaned him $6 million to build a $14,900,000 18,000 sq. ft. mansion. Wouldn’t you have loved to be in the room while Patriot’s lending officers discussed that one and concluded it was a wise investment? Remind me again why no one’s in jail over there.

So the price dropped, down to $10,000,000 by 2009, no one wanted it, the house was never built and the land returned to nature. Last February Patriot finalized its foreclosure, wrote off its $6 million and sold the land to the present owner for $1 million. They even tossed in a new $3 million mortgage to build a more modest mansion, “but this time we really mean it – you’ve got to build something”. Better a performing asset than a liability, I suppose.

Is there a market for a back country mansion at $6 million? We’ll find out, but at least the new price seems closer to reality. And it will have as its neighbor the Antares Boyz’ empty, 45,000 sq. foot fiasco, so this one will appear modest by comparison. Modest is the new black, I’m told.

The Tsoi Collection, by Patriot

The Tsoi Collection, by Patriot

15 Comments

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15 responses to “Back country follies

  1. Just the Facts Jack

    You paint too broad a brush on Patriot Bank. The entire management team that made those decisions are now gone, fired, kaput. A new team was brought in when the bank was recapitalized.

    It appears that the old management team was indeed horrible, but methinks you tar and feather the guys who are now trying to right the ship.

    • No, I think it’s clear I’m directing my comments to the old regime at Patriot. The current deal: mortgage in exchange for cash, makes sense, which is why I described it as trading a non-performing liability for a performing loan from a more credit worthy borrower. In fact, I’ve tried that same approach on behalf of a couple of buyers myself.

  2. anonymous

    Tsoi oi oi.

  3. Just wondering

    What ever happened to Pop & Son DeCaro?

  4. Mickster

    What was the name if that Patriot guy who wrote all that stuff ? Magnus, Magnum I forget. Made a fortune, now listed as a MD or whatever with some other Greenwich ‘investment’ firm downtown. Glad my money isn’t with them.

    • While I would never disparage any fine young banker who was merely trying to encourage the building of fine mansions by felons and other people who needed a second chance, I believe the person whose name you are trying to recall is Marcus Zavatero, who is indeed now employed by a Greenwich investment firm. Mr. Z may be gone, but the foundations he laid are still in town, mostly overgrown by weeds.

  5. AJ

    Your “Mickey Mouse Presents” soy sauce photo says it all. Now you know why some people get paid the big bucks.

  6. greengal

    I think Tsoi still owns 2 properties. One on Ridgebrook Rd and one on Dingletown. I hear the tenants pay the bank, not him directly. He’s a shady character.

    • He strikes me as just a man who gambled big, and lost. That he’s trying to hold on to what little is left seems desperate and doomed, but not “shady” – no one says you have to go gentle into that good night.

  7. Greenwich historian

    Has anybody written a human interest story about the metamorphosis of Langhorne Lane? How did a quiet backcountry road with modest houses that weren’t built until the late 1960s, become the destination for oversized spec homes in the past 10 years?Langhorne Lane has interesting origins. The man for whom Langhorne Lane was named (Cary Langhorne Washburn) passed away at the age of 92 in 2011. He had been the Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the Nixon and Ford administrations. His brother, Stanley Washburn Jr. who had 23 acres on adjacent Mooreland Road, invented the Bongo Board. He died in 2005. Of course, he had moved away by the 1960s and sold off his 23 acres which helped forge the way for Langhorne Lane.

    • NoPo Chick

      Tsoi also left his mark on Mary Lane. The hole @ the end on the cul-de-sac is his doing. Not only is it an eye sore but it’s also a safety hazard to the pre-teen crowd that likes to go in and “check it out”. It’s already eroded the neighbors property who had to hire someone to sure it up. Ed Mortimer had the listing than Dave Wolfe, look it up, you’ll see another brilliant move by Tsoi…

      • I suspect Ed Mortimer rather regrets ever getting involved with the man because all that effort was wasted. David Wolf had the listings via the bankruptcy court and I believe he’s fared no better than Ed. So it goes.

  8. greengal

    I do feel bad for the guy. In addition to being a builder, he’s an acupuncturist/chiropractor and an artist. Not too long ago I got a postcard advertising his art. His technique is to put on a blindfold, throw paint on a canvas, and then take off the blind fold and discus the psychology of the work. He’s has quite a few videos on UTube. On the one hand, it is hilarious that he thinks this passes for art and on the other, so sad. I hope it all works out for him.