As Watertown condemns owner’s second building, he shares plans for properties

Watertown corner condemned

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It's a Watertown corner condemned. First, a single building. Now, its much smaller neighbor.

The posting has gone up on 358 High Street in Watertown: condemned for occupancy.

City Code Enforcement Supervisor Carolyn Meunier says her department made the call Monday.

"Open doors were found on the property and the inspector checked for the safety aspect of the building," she said.

A wooden house sits in the shadow of 366 High Street, which was condemned last month.

While both sit on the same block, they also share the same owner, Patrick Towne from E3d Architecture and Engineering in Texas.

Towne says his plan is to reinforce 366 High Street’s structure to eventually occupy it with tenants. But for 358 High Street, the future doesn’t seem as bright.

“It’s likely we will need to demolish that structure as well for parking,” he said.

Meunier says the city wants to see it come down, too.

"We would hope and we would like to see Mr. Towne remove it," she said.

Artie's Tavern owner Art Smith, who grew up in the area, says both buildings should come down.

“I can’t understand that, why they didn’t tear it down years ago,” Smith said.

Code enforcement officials says Towne will have to put 366 and 358 High Streets on the city's vacant building registry, meant to make sure properties are taken care of.

"Part of my vacant property is to make sure that all the properties are maintained and kept up because, basically, this one is structurally unsafe. We're asking for a letter of intent. That's also part of the vacant registration and the condemnation," said Watertown Building Safety Inspector Christine Shipley.

Shipley says not maintaining a building on the registry could start costing the owner.

"There's the $50 registration fee and that will cover 90 days. If, after 90 days, they're not going to keep it, I want to, say, keep up the maintenance on the property, then there's a $750 yearly fee," she said.

Meunier says the city is still waiting for Towne to present them with a structural evaluation, which Towne says is in the works.

“We’ve been in conversations,” he said, “and Aubertine and Currier has worked with us hand-in-hand there.”

Towne says he will meet with city officials in October to discuss both buildings.

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