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The former Mercy Hospital site, located at the corner of South Massey and Stone streets in Watertown. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The COR Development Co. wants to sell the site of the old Mercy Hospital for more than 10 times the amount it wants to pay for its assessment.

COR has listed the nearly 6-acre site and three other nearby smaller parcels for $2.5 million, while the company is trying to get its assessment lowered to $238,000.

The company is challenging the 5.59-acre vacant site at 217 Stone St. that the city assessed at $1.4 million in 2019 and 2020.

According to its website, the Syracuse development company describes the site of the hospital as “prime investment opportunity.”

But the amount of the asking price for the property is raising eyebrows with city officials.

“I think the asking price is more in line with what the owners think is the true value of the property than the assessment they’re asking to pay up the property for,” City Assessor Brian S. Phelps said.

The two sides are so far apart on the difference between the $1.4 million and $238,000 that Mr. Phelps expects the issue will end up going to court.

The $2.5 million listing includes property along Sherman Street where three houses were demolished and property adjacent to two former parking lots. Those properties are not part of the assessment disagreement.

The other vacant 2-acre and 1.15-acre parcels were primarily used for parking for hospital employees and a .11-acre sliver that contains a sign for St. Patrick’s Church.

Because they are former dirt parking lots, those properties are not worth as much as the nearly 6-acre hospital site that’s considered shovel-ready for development, Mr. Phelps said.

Brian Maher, a broker with COR that’s handling the listing, would not comment on the listing price. He also said he “had nothing to report” on whether there are any prospective buyers for the property.

Mr. Maher referred all other questions to COR’s legal department, which did not return request for comment. Debra Sullivan, an attorney with Barclay Damon in Syracuse who is handling the assessment manner for the company, could not be reached for comment.

For more than a year, the city and the company have been wrangling over the assessment for the hospital site.

The 2021 assessment on the hospital parcel was raised from $838,500 to $1,414,000, with the property representing $1,538,000 of full value.

In 2020, the Syracuse development company said it was not satisfied with its $838,500 assessment on the old Mercy Hospital site, located between Stone and Arsenal streets and South Massey and Sherman streets. At the time, COR wanted the assessment to be lowered to $222,500 and went to the city’s Assessment Review Board to argue its case during the grievance process.

That same year, COR put the vacant parcel on the market seven years after demolishing the hospital in preparation for a redevelopment plan that never happened.

While the assessment on the larger property appears to be going to state Supreme Court, the city and COR agreed on the assessment on the smaller parcels. The total assessment of that property will be $105,800 in both 2019 and 2020, according to an agreement recently approved by the City Council.

In 2013, COR received about $4 million in Empire State Development funding to demolish the former Mercy Hospital that most recently housed a nursing home before it closed. According to building permits at the time, it cost the company $3.6 million to demolish three separate buildings that made up the hospital at 218 Stone St.

It’s unclear whether the company spent any money associated with the demolition project and to complete an environmental cleanup and remediation of the site in 2014.

COR originally planned to invest $70 million to transform the site into 40,000 square feet of retail and office space and 160 to 200 apartments.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment

Holmes

Nothing in Watertown is worth $2.5M..

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