Friday: Deal For Masonic Temple Underway

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It appeared Friday that the Masonic Temple on Washington Street in Watertown will soon have new owners.

$23,000 in back taxes were paid on the property  Friday afternoon.

Watertown city comptroller James Mills said a check from "Fourth Coast Inc." was delivered to city hall.

The owner of the Washington Street property, Garrett McCarthy, did not confirm the name of the property's buyer during a late afternoon press conference, but called the tax payment "the first step in the transition of ownership." 

McCarthy bought the building in 2012 with plans to turn it into an arts center, but has struggled to find the money to repair and renovate the building.

McCarthy said he'll lose his investment in the building, but the new owners will now have time to work on the building and find uses for it.

It's "a fine day for Watertown," he said.

Before Friday's announcement of the paid taxes and the apparent sale, there was growing sentiment to demolish the structure, which has fallen into disrepair.

During an appearance on The Public Eye on WPBS TV, McCarthy said the buyers are from Jefferson County and have toured the lodge three times, the last of which was Thursday, and they intend to stabilize the building and redevelop it.
 
The future of the building is the topic of Friday night's Public Eye, which was recorded before Friday's developments.  
 
"I think we all agree that if it could be saved, we would like to do that," said Joe Butler Jr., a city council member, during the broadcast, "but you have to look at the challenges and the obstacles that lie ahead. A government can't pick up the pieces, in this case literally and figuratively, to save all these buildings."
 
"I didn't have to be the sole owner and I stated all along that I do not want to be the sole owner of this property," McCarthy said during the program.
 
"Mine was to come in, facilitate the discussion on what is needed downtown, but it was to save this building and get it back on the rolls as a working and the epicenter for downtown Watertown," McCarthy said.
 
Public Eye airs at 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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