City Businessman To Buy North Side League Building

City Businessman To Buy North Side League Building

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Watertown's North Side Improvement League has an agreement to sell its property on Mill Street to a local businessman.

The building -- once a hub for social and political  activity on Watertown's north side -- is set to be sold to Jake's Lawn Care owner Jake Johnson.

Johnson said Friday he plans to find a tenant to lease or rent the building. He's buying the building with business partner Mark Murphy.

"it's so important to keep the Northside league building viable in the community," Johnson told 7 News.

"I think we're going to go above and beyond everybody's expectations and hopefully do something great over there."

The league closed its building in 2013 because of financial problems. 

At its peak, the league was a key part of Watertown's social and civic life. It was a spot for weddings, meetings and bingo. It was a place for politicians - from city council candidates to vice-presidents - to rally supporters and press the flesh. The organization had political reach and a charitable leaning - it also handed out college scholarships. 

Past president William Parody says the organization had no choice but to sell the building, so the league's efforts can continue.

"It was run down so bad and in debt pretty good amount of money," he said, "so what we've tried to do is get a price for it that will pay off the debt that was owed on it and the rest of the money  will be put in a scholarship fund."

The sale must be approved by the state attorney general, because the league is a nonprofit organization. 

There's no word when that will happen.

Johnson said Friday that the deal for the League building is important to him personally, since his own roots are on the city's north side.

"This acquisition is definitely a special one to me, it's something that you would have dreamed about as a child."

"We want to make sure that the process is the best for the north side and that everything that we do keeps the legacy of the north side and the goals of the Northside Improvement League in mind."

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