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Back taxes owed on Masonic Temple, other city properties

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Owners of the crumbling Masonic Temple building on Washington Street and 51 other properties in the city have until Monday to pay up back taxes.

Henderson artist Garrett L. McCarthy purchased the former Masonic Temple two years ago with hopes of turning the century-old landmark into an educational and performing arts center.

He has to pay $23,439.46 in back taxes or the city could end up taking control of the building, at 242 Washington St. Mr. McCarthy did not return a reporter’s phone calls.

The city then would have to decide what to do with the structure, with the possibility of demolishing it. Last September, the city’s code enforcement office banned the public from entering the building, saying it’s unsafe because pieces of the exterior were falling off.

Mr. McCarthy has been trying to drum up support by talking with arts organizations and college and university officials throughout the state to see if they might be interested in creating an arts center in the building, which he has estimated would cost about $5 million.

City Comptroller James E. Mills said other notable properties facing tax certificate sales are:

n A 1.32-acre parcel at 426, 430 and 440 State St., owned by Route 57 LLC, Alexandria Bay, whose principal is P.J. Simao. The back taxes are $42,041.76. A few years ago, a developer considered building a Dunkin’ Donuts on the site.

n A vacant building at 591 Rear W. Main St. that sits on 4.443 acres. It has $32,968.94 in back taxes. The owner is Watertown River Properties Inc., Chatham, N.J.

n A seven-story building at 122 Court St. and 122-130 Rear Court St. that houses Velocity family fun center. Owner Psychedelic Entertainment, 730 Knickerbocker St., owned by German Leon, owes $18,149.92.

n A former bank branch at 1822 State St., owned by Prime LLC, Alexandria Bay, a development company controlled by Mr. Simao. The owner owes $20,414.63.

n A small commercial building at 909 Arsenal St., with $18,044.16 back taxes on it. The owner is listed as Onondaga Development LLC, Alexandria Bay, whose principal is also P.J. Simao. An electronics repair shop once was housed there.

The city would take control of each of the above properties if the taxes are not paid after they go through the two-year redemption process. But Mr. Mills said he expects the owners of some of the properties to pay the back taxes before the closing of the business day Monday.

Delinquent owners have two years after a tax sale to redeem their properties before the owner of the tax sale certificate can request to take ownership of the property.

To do so, they must pay all outstanding taxes and any interest and penalties. The city imposes a 1 percent-per-month interest charge on properties, which then is given to the tax sale certificate holder, along with the money paid for the certificate, if the property owner pays in full.

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