WATERTOWN — Seven years after demolishing the old Mercy Hospital site, COR Development officials have decided to put the nearly 10-acre site up for sale.
Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. was told on Thursday by a COR representative, Catherine K. Johnson, the Syracuse development company’s legal counsel, about the plans to sell the property.
The company currently doesn’t have any potential buyers, he said.
“Frankly, I have no hard feelings. They’re doing the right thing,” he said. “It’s an important piece of property for development.”
Maybe another developer can step in and move forward with a project, the mayor said.
COR’s plans to redevelop the site for commercial use and rental housing never materialized after two of its officers had legal problems and the city’s housing market changed.
The only activity that has occurred at the site — between Stone and Arsenal streets and South Massey and Sherman streets — has been the removal of a fence around it when some neighbors complained of its unsightliness last April.
The site, consisting of nine parcels, is shovel-ready, after about $4 million in state money was invested to demolish the former Mercy Hospital and to complete an environmental cleanup and remediation of the site in 2014.
COR spokesman Peter Kauffmann said redeveloping the site depended on the company obtaining state funding, but “it was not an option available to COR at this time.”
“Based on that reality, COR is stepping aside and putting the property up for sale so that it can be developed more quickly by another party,” he said.
Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director, is grateful that COR eliminated the former hospital from the site, so it’s now available to be redeveloped.
The city would have been left with the burden of the costly demolition, Mr. Lumbis said.
COR also is proud of its work to remediate the site and deliver a shovel-ready project to a new developer, Mr. Kauffmann said.
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.
But then the city’s housing market slowed after a series of apartment complexes were built to fill housing needs for Fort Drum soldiers.
The project was then scaled down into 108 apartment units in three three-story buildings along Stone Street and about 30,000 square feet of commercial space in two two-story buildings along Arsenal Street.
The redevelopment project has been in limbo because two of the company’s officers, Steven Aiello and Joseph Girardi, were convicted on federal corruption charges not related to the Mercy project.
The news of COR moving to sell the properties comes at a time when the company filed a lawsuit against the city to lower its assessment for the site, city assessor Brian S. Phelps said.
All nine parcels are assessed at $1,282,600. In its lawsuit, COR wanted to lower the assessment of the 5.59-acre property where the hospital sat at 218 Stone to $230,000, while a parking lot at 218 Rexford Place will be lowered from $172,500 to $69,000.
COR also owns Beaver Meadows apartment complex and the Target plaza, off Route 3 in the town of Watertown. In 2017, COR announced plans to build an 12,500-square-foot expansion in the Target plaza but the plans stalled and have not happened.
It wasn’t clear on Thursday night whether COR will proceed with the Target plaza project.