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Neighbors buying old Empsall Plaza


Neighbors of Watertown Inc. is in the process of buying the property most recently occupied by Velocity, the defunct family fun center in Empsall Plaza on Court Street.

On Thursday morning, Neighbors Executive Director Gary C. Beasley told the Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as the Watertown Trust, that the agency will purchase the now-vacant space on the ground floor from its owner, Psychedelic Entertainment LLC, California.

Neighbors owns the Brighton Apartments on floors two through eight of the same building.

The building actually is broken up into four parts. It consists of two sections of what was Velocity, the Brighton Apartments and a back part facing the J.B. Wise parking lot.

Neighbors would acquire the part of the building that once housed the Frank A. Empsall Co. Department Store until it closed in 1993. It remains an open 3,000-square-foot space, even though it is two distinct properties.

Neighbors has a purchase contract, but a closing date has not been scheduled, Mr. Beasley said after the meeting. He declined to release the purchase price.

“It’s in the attorneys’ hands,” he said.

The Velocity space would be put to commercial use. Plans also would call for a second elevator because the existing one is aging and is difficult to find replacement parts for, he said. It would give tenants of the Brighton access to an exit that leads to the J.B. Wise parking lot. The lobby also would get an upgrade.

Opened in 2006, Velocity closed suddenly in July. Thomas Shultz, owner of Re-Sale America, paid $4,570.47 in back taxes for the front part of Velocity but didn’t pay the overdue taxes owed on the rest of the space. Mr. Shultz was interested in purchasing the space. That deal apparently fell through.

Velocity offered laser tag, a soft-play gym and arcade games mainly for children. German Leon, a Los Angeles actor and director who owns Psychedelic Entertainment LLC, purchased the two individual but connected buildings at 122-130 Court St. and 122-130 Rear Court St. for $60,000 seven years ago.

In June, the middle part of Velocity went through back tax proceedings, and the city was set to obtain its deed. Instead, city officials filed a lawsuit against Psychedelic to get the $18,149.92 in back taxes owed on it, City Comptroller James E. Mills said.

If Neighbors becomes the new owner, the city still must be paid the back taxes, he said. Mr. Mills was aware that there was a deal in the works, but he is not privy to the details, so he declined to comment further.

Mr. Leon also owns a third connecting building, at 223 J.B. Wise Place, where the Tunes 92.5 FM radio station, an insurance agency and a hair salon occupy space.

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