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Neighbors of Watertown completes Empsall Plaza deal

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The Neighbors of Watertown Inc. has finally closed on the purchase of Empsall Plaza on Court Street.

Neighbors purchased the 3,000 square feet of space most recently occupied by Velocity on Dec. 18 from Psychedelic Entertainment LLC, Englewood, Calif., for $130,000. The closing took a little longer because it contained a complicated easement, officials said.

That space, at 122-30 Court St., is actually two separate properties. A third property at the back of the building also has been sold in a separate transaction to a different buyer.

The housing redevelopment organization plans to begin renovating the 3,000 square feet of space as soon as it can, said Executive Director Gary C. Beasley.

“We completely own it now,” he said.

The floor above the Velocity space will be converted into 13 or 14 apartments, Mr. Beasley said. The building’s facade also will undergo renovations and a new side entrance will be added. The Velocity space will be put to commercial use; Neighbors has talked to potential tenants for that space but nothing has been finalized, he said.

Plans also call for a second elevator because the existing one is aging and difficult to find replacement parts for. It would give tenants of the Brighton access to an exit that leads to the J.B. Wise parking lot. The lobby also will get an upgrade.

In 1992, the agency completed renovation of the Brighton Hotel, which was developed into a 36-apartment subsidized complex.

Needing to replace the elevator, the organization jumped at the chance to acquire the space when it heard the California company failed to pay back taxes on it. As part of the deal, Psychedelic paid $22,644.02 to the city for the back taxes and the property’s tax sale certificate.

The Empsall Plaza building actually is broken up into four parts. It consists of the two sections Neighbors recently acquired, the Brighton Apartments and a back part facing the J.B. Wise parking lot, which houses the Tunes 92.5 FM radio station, an insurance agency and a hair salon.

On Dec. 12, the section facing the J.B. Wise parking lot was acquired by Bayview Loan Servicing LLC, the Coral Gables, Fla. lending company that held the mortgage, for $315,419, said City Assessor Brian S. Phelps. That transaction, called “in lieu of foreclosure,” avoided both parties having to go through the more costly process of foreclosure and entailed a simple sale of property.

Mr. Beasley has said Neighbors has no interest in acquiring that section of the building.

Opened in 2006, Velocity closed suddenly in July. Velocity offered laser tag, a soft-play gym and arcade games, mainly for children. German Leon, a Los Angeles actor and director who owned Psychedelic Entertainment LLC, purchased the two individual but connected buildings for $60,000 seven years ago.

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