November 7, 2012
C’ville sues to raze building
Town says former Golden Skillet a danger, needs to be demolished
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
The town of Cortlandville has filed a lawsuit seeking the demolition of the former Golden Skillet restaurant on Route 13 in South Cortland. The building has sat empty since a fire in December 2004.
CORTLANDVILLE — The Town Board has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a dilapidated Route 13 building to have it torn down and the town reimbursed for tear-down costs.
The town is seeking an immediate order to fence off the former Golden Skillet restaurant at 840 Route 13 and raze it.
The property is owned by Route 13 Partners, a limited liability company set up by Russell Freeman of New York City and Victor Caracocly of Brooklyn.
“The Premises continue to be beyond repair and must be demolished immediately in order to prevent further danger to the public,” the lawsuit states.
The building was damaged by fire in 2004 and 2006, and has since remained closed and in very poor condition, according to town officials.
The lawsuit was filed Oct. 30 in state Supreme Court in Cortland County.
“The Golden Skillet petition has gone to Judge (Phillip) Rumsey and we’re waiting for him to schedule a hearing,” said Cortlandville Town Supervisor Richard Tupper.
Town Code Officer Tom Williams estimated the building would cost about $20,000 to demolish. The town is also seeking removal of two buried propane tanks on the property.
Route 13 Partners purchased the building in 2008 for $410,000.
Caracocly argued at a September meeting the premises could be renovated, according to the lawsuit. At the meeting, Caracocly said he is assuming responsibility of the property from Freeman.
“To date no steps have been taken by Respondents to improve the subject premises, except one mowing of long grass,” the lawsuit states.
Freeman said during a meeting in May that he was hiring a broker to market the property, but Williams said town officials have not heard of any developments on that front.
Under the jurisdiction of its unsafe building’s law, the Town Board declared the building unsafe in May and ordered it torn down, an order Williams said has since been ignored.
The code officer said his primary concern is the fire-damaged roof, as well as the heating units on the roof. He has also seen copious water and frost damage in the structure.
“At some point, in all likelihood, that roof will collapse,” he said.
Williams said the town has offered the building owners ample time and opportunity to argue for the sake of keeping it, but have yet to hear any substantial reasons to do so.
If the court grants the town permission to demolish, it will bid out the project and send Route 13 Partners the bill.
If that goes unpaid, the charges will be added to the firm’s property tax bill, Williams said.
The building is assessed at $400,000, according to Cortland County Real Property Tax Services.
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