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Watertown accountant steps aside in favor of “great deal” for Hospice property

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Watertown accountant Jerry R. Gardner said Thursday that he has no plans to match or better the $350,000 offer that Hospice Foundation of Jefferson County Inc. has received for its Washington Street property.

Mr. Gardner, whose company, N&G Rentals LLC, had a contract with the foundation to purchase the property for $150,000, said in an email that the new offer submitted by Watertown businessman Brian H. Murray is a “great deal” for the foundation, but much higher than the property’s value to him for use as an accounting office.

“I’m glad that Hospice got such a good offer. Good for them,” Mr. Gardner said.

The foundation, which provides financial support to Hospice of Jefferson County, had marketed the property at 425 Washington St. for about a year with no takers before Mr. Gardner entered his offer. The sale to Mr. Gardner was slated to close Dec. 6, but real estate 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 was 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. A second certified appraiser, who did not conduct a full appraisal of it, offered the opinion that the property was worth $150,000 because it needs $150,000 in upgrades and renovations to become suitable as a professional office.

Amid questions over the property’s value and how much the foundation could possibly expect to realize from its sale, Mr. Gardner agreed to step aside and give the foundation more time to market it. The agreement gave the foundation six additional months to seek a higher offer, with Mr. Gardner retaining the right of first refusal to match or top any offers, which he has chosen not to do.

Mr. Murray owns several properties within the city, including the Lincoln Building, 89-99 Public Square.

Hospice will use proceeds from the sale to defray construction costs of its eight-bed residence, including office space, at 1398 Gotham St.

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