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To salvage unpaid loan, JCIDA plans sale of 4-acre commercial lot on Route 11 in Adams

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ADAMS — The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency hopes to salvage a $79,297 debt from a defunct loan by selling a 4-acre commercial lot on Route 11 it acquired in lieu of a foreclosure, after C&B Rent All closed there in late 2009.

Although the lot was recently appraised at $89,000, the agency received a purchase offer from a business that moved into the former C&B building, MCI Associates, for $40,000. MCI moved into the building at 11151 Route 11 in late 2012, which adjoins the JCIDA-owned lot to the south. MCI bought the building in January from Bauer Concrete & Masonry Inc. for $245,000, according to county records.

The sale will be needed to get back some capital from an $85,000 defunct loan made by three public agencies in March 2009 to Adams business owner Eric J. Soules, who opened C&B in 2001. JCIDA pitched in $25,000 toward the loan, while $30,000 in contributions were made by the North Country Alliance and Adirondack Economic Development Corp. The three agencies will equally split proceeds from the property sale.

On Tuesday, members of the agency’s Loan Review Committee decided that the commercial lot’s market value could actually be much less than $89,000. They considered negotiating a purchase offer with MCI, which plans to use the lot for parking, at much less than its appraised value.

But after mulling alternatives — including hiring a commercial broker to list the property for sale — the committee decided more due diligence is needed before selling the lot. The agency will contact boards from the NCA and AEDC for advice on the matter, and also contact local commercial brokers to compare prices they might advertise to sell the lot for.

The appraisal of the lot was completed by Bruce D. Fowler, Northern New York Appraisal Services, Watertown, at a cost of $1,200. The lot is assessed by the town of Adams at $48,600.

Though the lot is located in a desirable business area across from South Jefferson Central High School, the property has setbacks that would make it challenging for a business to be constructed there, JCIDA CEO Donald C. Alexander said. A power line runs through the center of the property, for example, and the lot includes 2 acres of wetlands that reduce available space.

“Moving those power lines would be mightily expensive, and I don’t think you’d ever be able to put a building there unless it was small,” Mr. Alexander said. “I don’t think there could be any other interest in the land other than using it as parking for the building next door.”

Mr. Alexander suggested the agency could negotiate with MCI to sell the land for more than its purchase offer of $40,000.

“Based on this appraisal, we could put the price at $60,000 and negotiate the sale (with MCI) from there,” he said. “It would then likely be sold around $50,000.”

But committee member Donald L. DiMonda, in response, said it could make better sense to publicly advertise the lot. He contended the land could be sold at a more competitive price.

The lot was put up for sale by Mr. Soules before he defaulted on the loan, and the for-sale sign remained up for several months.

“A purchase offer of less than half of the appraised value makes me uncomfortable even to go into negotiations,” Mr. DiMonda said. “And if another person is interested in this property, it makes our position stronger.”

In response to that point, Mr. Alexander agreed the agency should investigate its options before negotiating a sale with MCI Associates.

“If we accept an offer less than the appraisal, there has to be a cogent reason for why we didn’t sell it at full value,” he said. “We can make sure this is appraised at the right number, and then choose to renegotiate a sale.”

In other business, the committee approved an eight-month extension of interest-only loan payments for JVO Cafe & Bakery, 104 Bartlett Road, Sackets Habor. The bakery, opened by Jill A. VanOcker in July 2012 with a $10,000 bank loan, received a $25,000 loan this past fall needed to keep its doors open — $12,500 from the JCIDA, and $12,5000 from Sackets Harbor Local Development Corp. The committee learned Tuesday that Ms. VanOcker failed to make an interest-only loan payment of $104 in June, and full payments owed in July and August. The committee decided it will accept interest-only payments from June through February, giving the small business a chance to rebound.

Mr. DiMonda, a Sackets Harbor resident, believes the business can forge a comeback as apartments now under construction at Madison Barracks start to open.

“The place down there at the marina looks better than it once did, and 90 apartment units are almost ready for occupancy,” he said. “If she can hang on for just a little longer, I think she can make it.”

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