A sign was placed on the building at JB Wise Place by Watertown’s Code Enforcement office stating the building was condemned for an inoperable heating system and an inoperable furnace. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — There’s good news and some bad news for the downtown building that housed the FunXcape indoor children’s play center.

The city has condemned the building, 223 JB Wise Place, because it doesn’t have any heat, causing the remaining businesses there to stop operating until the problem is corrected.

The subject came up during Thursday’s Watertown Local Development Corp.’s meeting, prompting board members to warn that the heating issue needs to be fixed before the winter because its pipes could burst.

The building is now vacant, said Donald W. Rutherford, CEO of the local development corporation, also known as the Watertown Trust.

Two unidentified parties have come forward to express interest in the building. They could make an offer on the property, but the economic development agency “could not facilitate a deal,” Mr. Rutherford said.

“We’ll see where it goes,” he said.

A sign was placed on the building by the city’s Code Enforcement office stating the building was condemned for an inoperable heating system and an inoperable furnace.

According to the codes office, the building is unfit for occupancy.

The building’s owner, Vina Bonner, who moved to Hawaii this summer, is behind on her loan payments to the Watertown Trust. She still owes $214,000 on a loan she took out with the trust to borrow $150,000 for equipment for the play center and $130,000 in gap funding to help finance the business to get it opened in 2014.

Last month, the Watertown Trust board decided to send Ms. Bonner a “Demand in Full” letter and initiate legal action against her to pay off the loan.

But he recently talked to her and she made a payment to get the loan to be 30 days overdue and a promise to keep paying on the loan.

She agreed to maintain to keep it at the 30-day level, Mr. Rutherford said.

If she does, the Watertown Trust will not pursue the matter further, he said.

In 2014, she opened the FunXcape indoor children’s play center with much fanfare, proclaiming it would be the local version of Chuck E. Cheese.

While she eventually closed FunXcape, Mrs. Bonner landed a major tenant, Power Play Sports hockey training center, and things looked more hopeful.

But the tenant moved out of the building in September to a new location at 23438 Route 12, where the owners offer hockey training nightly.

A martial arts school also recently moved out, leaving a hair salon and a sign company as its only tenants before the recent building issues came up.

In 2018, Mrs. Bonner purchased an adjacent building at 259 JB Wise Place for $335,000 in cash. The future of that vacant building also remains in doubt.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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