Despite a pending sale of the former Tallmadge Tire and Auto Service Center property at 217 Arsenal St., a lawsuit between the owners and Jefferson County over a parking lease agreement continues.
D. Edward Grant and Timothy E. Kelly, owners of G&K Realty Inc., sued the county in state Supreme Court in July 2012, claiming they were owed $4,500 from the county in back lease payments for use of the parking lot. The pair claimed to have an oral agreement with the county that called for payments of $750 monthly.
The county, which stopped using the lot in September 2011, countered that it was Mr. Grant and Mr. Kelly who broke the lease by telling the county it no longer could use the lot. The county claims the action amounted to a retaliatory eviction that caused it harm. In a counterclaim, the county says it was damaged because it no longer could provide public parking next to its primary offices and its court complex, causing an inconvenience to the public and a diminution in business proceeds to various county departments that derive revenue from consumer transactions. The county further claims that it spent about $24,000 improving the property with drainage, infrastructure, pavement and perimeter steel guardrails.
The problem is that the countys lease agreement was with the propertys former owner, Tallmadge LLC, a company affiliated with Anthony Salerno, the sole shareholder of MGNH Inc., former operator of Mercy of Northern New York. Mr. Salerno died in 2008, and Mr. Grant and Mr. Kelly subsequently began foreclosure proceedings, regaining ownership in March 2011 through a deed in lieu of foreclosure agreement with his estate.
The county claims Mr. Grant and Mr. Kelly are subject to the terms of the lease agreement, but the partners counter that, because the lease with Tallmadge was never filed at the county clerks office, there was no expectation that they would be aware of the leases existence when they took title to the property. Mr. Grant and Mr. Kelly, through their attorney, Mark G. Gebo, Watertown, have demanded that the county provide documentation that shows they are liable to fulfill the lease agreement. Mr. Gebo contends that the countys lease with Tallmadge was not binding on Mr. Grant and Mr. Kelly and that the pair did not evict the county.
They were, in fact, asked to stop parking on the premises, but did so voluntarily without protest, Mr. Gebo wrote in response to the countys counterclaim.
Mr. Grant and Mr. Kelly claimed that the county was not forthcoming with the demanded lease agreement, as well as several other documents they had requested from the county. According to documents filed Wednesday at the county clerks office, Judge Hugh A. Gilbert has ordered the county to produce all of the demanded documents.
Mr. Grant and Mr. Kelly have reached an agreement with Morgan Management, Pittsford, to sell the property, although the sale has not yet closed. Morgan Managements plans for the building have not been divulged. COR Development Co., Fayetteville, bought the neighboring Mercy Care Center in April with plans to demolish the complex and build residential, retail and commercial space on the property, between Arsenal and Stone streets.