Photo: Paul Ognibene (right, obscured) (courtesy WCVB-TV).
Cushing Village has possibly suffered another setback with the arrest Tuesday of the Cambridge developer seen as the financial “White Knight” who in April appeared to rescue the 167,000 square-foot multi-use project floundering for nearly two years after it was approved by the town in July 2013.
Paul Ognibene, 43, of Cohasset was arraigned in Cambridge District Court on Friday, July 17, on one count of sexual conduct for fee after he was arrested by Cambridge Police in a sex sting that took place in the food court of the CambridgeSide Galleria mall.
Cambridge Police allege Ognibene, the owner and principal of Cambridge-based Urban Spaces, placed a job description on Craigslist job soliciting an office assistant that an investigation by the police’s special investigation unit determined to be a “false job which is actually soliciting girls for sex.”
Ognibene, who resigned as chair of the Cohasset School Committee on Friday as a result of this arrest, pled not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. His attorney released a statement saying Ognibene “was sorry” for what had occurred.
It is unknown at this time if Ognibene’s arrest could impact any financial arrangements he has made with lenders concerning Cushing Village. It is not unusual for business agreements to be altered or pulled due to adverse publicity. This month, Macy’s parent company ended its business partnership with New York developer Donald Trump after the Republican presidential candidate made sweeping allegations concerning Mexicans who entered the US illegally across the US/Mexican border.
On April 27, Cushing Village’s developer Smith Legacy Partners said Urban Spaces had become its “development partner” in constructing the three-building complex comprising 115 apartments, approximately 36,000 square feet of retail/commercial space and a garage complex with 230 parking spaces.
Urban Spaces’ “development expertise will help to ensure that the vision we have for the Cushing Village project becomes a reality,” said Chris Starr, the managing partner of Smith Legacy Partners which is located in Acton.
The press release noted that Urban Spaces “acquires, develops and manages high-end residential properties in close proximity to urban centers.”
The April announcement appeared to be a turning point for the troubled development which been paying the town $20,000 a month since March 2014 in a series of 30-day extensions for the closing date of the purchase and sale agreement for the municipal parking lot. The development’s financial issues have been well chronicled from missing repeated ground breaking dates to hiring a high-powered real estate firm to find an equity partner.
An email to Starr’s PR representative has not been answered.