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Jefferson County Hospice gets $350,000 offer for Washington Street property

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The Hospice Foundation of Jefferson County Inc. is ready to accept a new offer of $350,000 for its Washington Street property.

That is more than double the amount it was prepared to receive from the first offer it was ready to accept.

Diana K. Woodhouse, Hospice of Jefferson County’s chief executive officer, said Watertown businessman Brian H. Murray has offered $350,000 for the two-story, 5,500-square-foot brick building at 425 Washington St. The offer is $200,000 more than the foundation thought it was going to receive under an earlier sale contract.

“We are pleased with the offer,” Mrs. Woodhouse said. “This is a very strong offer.”

The foundation earlier had a contract with N&G Rentals LLC, whose principal is Watertown accountant Jerry R. Gardner, to sell the building for $150,000. However, developer P.J. Simao, who has helped the foundation raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, objected to the transaction, contending among other issues that the proposed sale price was less than half what a state-certified real estate appraiser said the property is worth. A 2011 appraisal set the property’s value at $365,000 while the city has assessed the tax-exempt property at $335,400 and estimates its full market value at $376,000.

Just before the sale to Mr. Gardner was due to close, the foundation’s board postponed it to allow an attorney to review the transaction. However, while the review was being conducted, Mr. Gardner proposed the foundation be given until June 30 to market the property. If at any point before that a more lucrative offer came in, Mr. Gardner was given the chance to match it. Mrs. Woodhouse said that Mr. Gardner now has 30 days to match or better the offer. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Mrs. Woodhouse said after the board received its latest offer, it decided it was sufficient to accept now and forgo further marketing of the property, even though the board still has until June to seek a better offer. She said the costs associated with maintaining the property for at least four more months factored into the board’s decision to accept the latest offer.

“We want to thank and acknowledge Mr. Simao for what he’s done,” Mrs. Woodhouse said. “We appreciate what he’s done and the courage he had to do it.”

Mr. Murray, who could not be reached for comment, acquired the Lincoln Building on Public Square in December for $500,000. In the past year, he has also acquired a number of other properties, including Palmer Street Apartments on the city’s west side, College Heights Apartments off Coffeen Street and a small strip plaza in the town of LeRay. Most recently, he acquired the storefronts on the bottom floor of the City Center Plaza building that houses the Stream Global Services call center on Arsenal Street.

Hospice no longer needs the Washington Street property following construction of an eight-bed residence, including office space, at 1398 Gotham St. Proceeds of the sale will defray the cost of building the facility.

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