Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham admits that he made a mistake by agreeing to sell the former Berow & Monroe building back to a West Virginia businessman since the man has reneged on a promise to fix up the property.
Now the Watertown City Council has decided to pursue legal action to get the building at 138 Court St. reverted to the city. In March 2012, the council agreed to sell the building back to businessman Alex Rahmi for $20,000 on the condition he bring the structure up to code, but that has not happened.
I think it was a mistake, Mr. Graham said.
On Monday night, council members instructed City Attorney Robert J. Slye to begin legal action against Mr. Rahmi to get the propertys title back. Mr. Slye said Tuesday that his office will start working on filing the lawsuit.
Mr. Rahmi has not been in contact with the city about the situation, Mr. Slye said.
He bought the building back from the city after owing about $25,000 in back taxes and allowing a 2011 deadline to pay them to pass.
Mr. Graham said he worries that if the building continues to sit idle, it will become an eyesore. He said he would rather see the structure demolished and turned into a parking lot than see it continue to deteriorate.
With so much development going on downtown with the Mercy and Woolworth Building projects proceeding, the city should act quickly, Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith said. He said he believes a developer can be found to acquire the building and redevelop it.
A for-sale sign recently was put on the building.