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Assessment at Sunrise Mall lowered to $60,000

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MASSENA — After St. Lawrence County Legislator Donald A. Peck challenged Massena to lower the assessment on the vacant Sunrise Mall, a property that is now in the county’s possession after being foreclosed upon in 2011, Mayor James F. Hidy questioned why the village would reward delinquent property owners who don’t pay their taxes by lowering their assessments.

As it turns out, the property’s assessment already had been lowered by Assessor Michael C. Ward.

Mr. Hidy said he was made aware of the assessment reduction late last week in a conversation with Mr. Ward.

Mr. Hidy noted that in 2007, when Anjum Malik purchased the mall for $135,000, it was assessed for $165,000. Four years later, Mr. Malik sought an assessment reduction, at which point the assessment was lowered to $134,000.

Mr. Ward said a property’s assessment is based on its status as of March 1, noting that on March 1, 2012, the building was occupied, with, among other tenants, the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce, a boxing gym, a tattoo parlor and a hair salon all using the space.

“The building became vacant approximately in October of 2012 when the chamber and other tenants left,” Mr. Ward said. “In 2012 this building was still occupied and rental income was possible and should have been collected. When the building became vacant, the assessment was reduced.”

Mr. Ward said that for the county’s 2013 tax bill on the property, the assessment was reduced by more than 50 percent, from $134,000 to $60,000.

Mr. Ward said that each situation is unique.

For example, the assessments on residential properties often remain the same.

“The Sunrise Mall is unique for a few reasons, because it’s so big and it’s a commercial property,” Mr. Ward said. “The county and I both know a buyer might be hard to find.”

Mr. Hidy said the property’s location alone makes it valuable, even if it is vacant.

“I feel a value of $60,000 is well below what the property is actually worth,” he said.

Mr. Ward said he feels the assessment is a fair one.

“I think it is a fair assessment,” he said. “Hopefully someone comes along with millions of dollars and turns it into the showcase it used to be again.”

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