Samanta Roy purchases total nearly $5 million

The Shawano Leader/October 11, 2004
By Tim Ryan

Property purchases over the last four years as part of Dr. R.C. Samanta Roy's plans to fund an international boarding school have become a source of gossip in and around Shawano.

Rumors of new, impending purchases constantly circulate. Some of them have proven false while others have turned out to be accurate.

The current buzz is about the expected sale of the AmericInn Motel, 1330 E. Green Bay St., and the adjoining property that is currently home to Plants Galore, 1336 E. Green Bay St.

Both properties are owned by Phil Anello of Shawano, who would not confirm or deny the rumor. That rumor has been going around the community for months. As of last Friday, nothing has been filed with the Shawano County Register of Deeds office.

Some rumors have persisted to the point of becoming commonly accepted facts by some people in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Some in the community continue to believe that the Evergreen and Birch Hill nursing homes were purchased by Samanta Roy. The two nursing homes, now known as Birch Hill Care Center, LLC, were purchased, and are now managed and operated by Rice Management Inc. of Appleton.

The gossip has also pushed Samanta Roy's property purchases somewhat out of perspective. According to the city the total assessed value of Samanta Roy's properties in Shawano is about $3 million. The total assessed value of all the taxable property in the city is $450 million.

"He is not even in the top ten property taxpayers," said City Administrator Jim Stadler, noting that there are others who own much more property in the city. "It's relatively insignificant," he said.

However, many of the properties, including several in the downtown area, are high profile parcels of commercial real estate. Their lingering vacancy, city officials and local business leaders say, is what the community concern is all about. (Later stories in this series will take a closer look at those concerns.)

Samanta Roy's properties amounted to only a handful by the end of the 1990s. In addition to his original property on Frailing Road, they included several other parcels in the Town of Wescott, mostly adjoining and extending the Frailing Road property.

By 1998, when he requested a rezoning from the Town of Wescott for his international boarding school, he had accumulated more than 100 acres ready to be devoted to that purpose.

The amount paid on those early properties - the last of which was purchased in 1994 - totaled more than $247,000.

The next purchase came six years later, marking the start of a continuing string of property purchases that now total close to $5 million.

A representative of Samanta Roy, Kal Gronvall, was asked by Alderman Fred Ponschok at a July 7 Common Council meeting whether Samanta Roy's group would continue buying properties.

"Yes," Gronvall responded. "Sure."

Gronvall said the intent was to use proceeds from the businesses to open an international boarding school, the Samanta Roy Institute for Science and Technology (SIST).

All of the properties bought between November 2000 and April 2003 were made by SIST. The institute is listed with the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit organization. Samanta Roy is listed as president. The entity is also listed as a non-stock corporation with the Wisconsin Secretary of State. The registered agent is Naomi Isaacson, who is also a member of the SIST Board of Directors.

There have been nearly two dozen purchases in the last four years, a number of them mortgaged:

A property at N5606 State Highway 47-55 on July 28, 2000 from Richard and Susan Schuster at a cost of $280,000. Records show that two mortgages were taken out on the property - a $280,000 mortgage on July 28,2000, and a $101,250 mortgage on Dec. 18, 2000.

Two parcels at N5670 and N5674 State Highway 47-55, sold by Guex Trucking Inc. on Nov. 3, 2000, for $410,000. It was the first of Samanta Roy's properties purchased by the institute. Records show that two mortgages were later taken out on that property, in June and December of 2001, totaling $415,000.

A property at 104 Old Lake Road on Dec. 17, 2000, purchased $100,200 from the estates of Thomas and Deborah Montour, and sold to SIST by Chad Montour. That property is home to the Midwest Gift and Fudge House, the first of three businesses that Samanta Roy has opened so far. According to records, SIST took out a $101,250 mortgage on the property on Dec. 18, 2000.

A 21.34-acre tract of land at the intersection of County Highway H and State Highway 47-55 from Hilgenberg and Associates on June 15, 2001, for $125,000. Records show that a $120,000 mortgage was taken out on the property the same day.

A property at 153 S. Main St. sold by Gerald and June Qualheim on Dec. 28, 2001 for $85,000. The property has an $85,000 mortgage.

A property at 1214 E. Green Bay St. purchased the same day from Action Enterprises of Shawano for $230,000. The property has a mortgage of $210,000.

A property at 143 and 145 S. Main St. purchased on March 6, 2002 from the Schultz Bros. Co. at a cost of $155,000.

The Mobil station at 1206 E. Green Bay St. from the Westerfeld Oil Co. for $325,000 on July 12, 2002.

A property at 303 E. Green Bay St. from Paul G. Murray at a cost of $175,000 on Aug. 1, 2002. Though currently vacant, that property is listed with the state Department of Regulation and Licensing as the registered office address for Midwest Properties of Shawano, a limited liability corporation established on July 7, 2003. Isaacson is also listed as the registered agent for that entity.

The property at 214 S. Main Street on Jan. 31, 2003 from Jerry and Kathleen Senzig on a $110,000 land contract. The contract calls for payments of $5,000 per month.

The property at 1247 E. Green Bay St. on Feb. 24, 2003, from Realty Income Corp. of Escondido, Calif., at a cost of $450,000. Records show that two mortgages were later taken out on the property on July 30, 2004 totaling $465,000. The institute does not own the Ponderosa Restaurant, which leases the building on that property.

A vacant lot next to the apartment building at W7310 Mills St. was purchased from Paul and Richard Blahnik on Feb. 28, 2003 for $16,500.

A property at N5696 State Highway 47-55 in the Town of Wescott on April 28, 2003 at a cost of $62,000 from four co-owners: Walter and Becky Gartner, and Alan and Cheri Beyer.

The property at W5901 County Road BE in the Town of Wescott on June 2, 2003 from Water and Wheels Amusement Park, LLC, at a cost of $320,000. The actual purchaser is listed as Midwest Amusement Park, a limited liability corporation, for which Isaacson is listed as the registered agent. The property was purchased on a land contract that calls for $5,000 per month payment.

All but one of the properties purchased since then have been purchased under the name of Midwest Properties of Shawano.

A Property at 311 E. Green Bay St. from Douglas Burris at a cost of $65,000 on June 25, 2003. The deed was not filed with the county until Nov. 4, 2003.

A vacant lot at 210 S. Main St. at a cost of $10,000 from James and Sherry Vigue on Oct. 17, 2003.

A property W7775 Sycamore Road purchased the same day from James Vigue at a cost of $10,500.

So far this year there have been seven more properties purchased.

The first - a property at 128 E. Green Bay St. - was purchased by SIST from Steven and Gail Erickson on Jan. 21, 2004 , on a $375,000 land contract. Records also show two mortgages totaling $465,000 taken out on the property on July 30, 2004.

The other six have all been purchased by Midwest Properties:

A vacant paved lot at Fourth and Main streets from Gary L. Matz on Jan. 30, 2004, at a cost of $8,000.

A property at 201 N. Main St. from High Pointe Properties, LLC also on Jan. 30, 2004 at a cost of $170,000.

An eight-unit condominium property at W7310 Mills Street from Michael and Julie Dallman, and Rodney and Lorie Lyons, on June 9, 2004, at a cost of $260,000.

A commercial property at 951 E. Green Bay St. from Roger Broder on July 30, 2004, at a cost of $250,000. Records show that two mortgages were taken out on the property on the same day totaling $465,000.

Two eight-unit apartment buildings, 463 Humphrey Circle and 1024 E. Fifth St., from Roger Broder on July 30, 2004, on a $575,000 land contract. Terms of the contract included $100,000 at the time of purchase and payments of $5,000 per month.

A property listed as N5660 and N5654 State Highway 47-55 from Daniel and Dale Van De Loo on July 30, 2004, at a cost of $215,000. A mortgage in that amount was taken out on the same day, records show.

Total properties purchased over the years now amount to about $5 million. Mortgages taken out on those properties total more than $1.9 million, though it is not clear how many of the mortgages are outstanding.

Tax returns filed by the Institute of Science and Technology for the year 2002 reported that $486,000 was due on mortgages taken out up to that time.

The Leader sent several letters to Samanta Roy and his representatives last month seeking interviews. There was no response.

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