By Jessica Cohen
For the Gazette
PORT JERVIS - A fresh effort to find a responsible owner for 29-31 Front St. was announced by Mayor Kelly Decker at the Port Jervis Common Council meeting on Monday.
The new venture with the 15,000-square-foot, three-story, 110-year-old building is informed by several disappointments with buyers and criticism for the financial dealings involved.
Ed DeGroat contended at Monday’s meeting that when the most recent owner bought the property, it had a $104,000 lien for an earlier emergency roof repair that the city agreed to let the owner pay in two installments. The owner defaulted, and the building, still in disrepair, recently reverted to city ownership.
“The building has been inspected, and there are currently no immediate repairs needed,” Decker said. “However, the structure needs a complete overhaul, as the temporary work was good for about three to five years, and almost three years has passed.”
The plight of 29-31 Front St. resembles the history of 46-48 Front St., where the Fox N Hare is now, and 24-32 Front St, now occupied by multiple businesses, Decker said. Both buildings had temporary repairs to sustain the buildings and alleviate hazards. His plan for 29-31 Front aims for similar beneficial outcomes.
Decker outlined a new process for selling the building that he said Second Ward Councilwoman Maria Mann suggested, which follows the example of a strategy used in Schenectady. Realtors will be given a chance to bid on a price for selling the building, which would then be posted on a multiple listing service for a minimum of 10 days at $140,000.
“The intent is to approve the broker listing at the March 9th meeting with a listing effective beginning March 10-13,” said Decker.
Should it not sell, alternative bids will be taken for 30 days, and the property will remain for sale until sold, he said. Bidders must specify their intent for the property with a plan and timeline, and document that they have access to funds for building rehab and a history of conscientious ownership for any property they own in the city. A list of their city properties and current projects is required.
“The bidder cannot have open violations in the city, nor can they have had court appearances on property repairs in the city,” Decker said. “The bidder must provide a synopsis of how their project will benefit the city, its residents and neighboring businesses. Three reputable references regarding their ability to take on a project of this magnitude are also required.”
An announcement will be posted on the Port Jervis website and Facebook page that, for the next 30 days, the city will accept bids for the property. After the 30-day bidding period, the Finance Committee will review offers with input from the city clerk and building official, Decker said. Then on April 27, the Common Council will vote on any rehabilitation bid offer recommended by the Finance Committee unless a full price “as is” offer comes in first.