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Ma sells restaurant property for $300,000

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Businessman James Ma has sold the former Sholette’s Steak & Ale restaurant in Ogdensburg for $300,000.

Mr. Ma, who is attempting to launch an English-as-second-language school at the former Academy at Ivy Ridge in the town of Oswegatchie, sold the 7,922-square-foot building at 1000 Linden St. to the limited liability corporation Grace Peace Land, according to property transfer documents on file at City Hall.

Grace Land Peace is held by Jim and Linda Zheng, who own several Chinese restaurants in St. Lawrence County.

Mr. Ma paid $290,000 for the property in December 2011, hoping to open a Chinese restaurant. He said Thursday he couldn’t find anyone to run the business, so he decided to sell.

“We did not find a person with the expertise to run a restaurant,” he said. “Linda showed an interest to take it over, so I sold it to her.”

Mrs. Zheng declined to comment on the purchase or her plans. The Zhengs’ restaurants include A#1 Buffet King in Ogdensburg, Asian Buffet in Canton and A-1 Oriental Kitchen in Potsdam. Meanwhile, Mr. Ma is moving ahead to get his school open. Unable to start up last fall or this fall, he is now hoping for 2014.

“We’re still working very hard on it,” Mr. Ma said.

Mr. Ma hasn’t yet been cleared to issue immigration forms to prospective international students so they may obtain visas allowing them to study in the United States.

Also, Mr. Ma so far has no commitment to participate in his school from Qingdao University and another university in his native China, although he has remained optimistic about a partnership.

“Not yet,” he said, declining to speculate on when everything would be resolved. “It’s hard to say.”

Mr. Ma’s inability to obtain student visas was one factor in his not being able to open the school in fall 2012.

The 238-acre Academy at Ivy Ridge closed in 2009. Prior to then, it was Mater Dei College, operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg.

Mr. Ma’s other investments in the town include 102 acres of land off Route 37 by Lee Road for development of a 20-home subdivision and the former United Helpers Cedars Nursing Home, nearby on Route 37, which he plans possibly to convert into a hotel or office space.

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