The Watertown Industrial Center Local Development Corp. hopes by the middle of next month to sever its ties to financially troubled Junction Boyz Inc., an auto body and stereo business that has leased space in the 800 Starbuck Ave. facility for a number of years.
On Tuesday morning, the WIC board got an update on the process of evicting the company, which owes more than $214,000 in overdue rent, utility charges and an equipment loan.
Attorney Keith B. Coughlin, who represents WIC, told the board that he expects to draw up a resolution about the eviction for next month. He expects the company to fight the amount it will pay to WIC for the outstanding bills, Mr. Coughlin said.
Well collect something in the end, he said.
WIC has started legal action to collect the overdue rent, utility charges and equipment. WIC filed court papers in the Jefferson County clerks office on June 28.
As of June 24, the WIC board terminated the companys 20-year lease for space at the facility.
With the days numbered at the facility for Junction Boyz, board members agreed that they should start putting together a marketing strategy to find a new tenant for the 30,000 square feet of space. If the company moves out next month, a new tenant could move in by Nov. 1, board members surmised.
Board Chairman Donald W. Rutherford suggested finding a seasoned company instead of a startup that may not have the traction to be a long-term tenant.
Junction Boyz has not paid the $6,500-a-month rent since December 2010. In January, the WIC board met with owner Edward Sampson Jr., who also owns the Junction furniture store in Seaway Plaza, to tell him legal action was pending after he failed to meet an amended payment agreement that began in January 2011.
The company installs car audio equipment and car starters and does custom body work, collision repairs and paint jobs.
Earlier this year, Mr. Sampson attributed the downturn to delinquent accounts from Fort Drum soldiers, on which the business previously relied. He also said business was hurt by more people buying new cars with their insurance checks rather than repairing their damaged vehicles.
When contacted Tuesday for comment about the eviction, Mr. Sampson blamed his financial troubles on his business dealings with Oak Rock Financial LLC and the loans he had for his customers with the Long Island commercial lending company. He arranged for the Oak Rock loans in exchange for the work he completed on their vehicles, Mr. Sampson said.
He claimed Oak Rock was overcharging him millions of dollars on the loans, so he could no longer pay his rent.
Oak Rock, now in bankruptcy, and its CEO, John Murphy, are being investigated by the FBI for fraud that could reach $90 million, according to published reports. Mr. Sampson said he could not discuss the Oak Rock situation with the WIC board until after the companys indiscretions came out.
Mr. Sampson said he tried to set up a meeting in July to discuss the situation, but the board refused to meet with him.
He said he also has tried without success to get the state attorney generals office involved.
As the financial problems escalated, his workforce dwindled from 36 full-time and six part-time employees to just a handful, Mr. Sampson said.