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Condemned Watertown rooming house for sale

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 11:24 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A rooming house in Watertown that was condemned, leaving dozens of people homeless, is for sale.

The sale price for 661 Factory Street is listed as $599,000.

The building’s owner, Linda Mercer, declined comment Tuesday morning.

The city’s code enforcement office condemned the building in early August, after discovering the fire alarm system wasn’t working.

The building had other problems as well - code enforcement said it was infested with bedbugs and cockroaches, and there are plumbing and electrical hazards.

As a result of the building being condemned, about 40 tenants were forced out. Many of them ended up living in a temporary ‘tent city’ near 661 Factory, during a scorching hot summer week.

The building is on the market for $599,000, although it is assessed for $208,200. According to the listing ad for 661 Factory, it contains 35 units and “was previously generating over 200k per year in annual rent revenue.”

The building is still condemned, according to the listing.

The closing of 661 Factory - along with several other facilities that housed poor people going out of business - has prompted county officials to warn the county faces a significant homelessness problem.

Scott Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County legislature, said he hopes someone will buy the property and “essentially renovate it, make it livable, make the conditions in there suitable for the constituency, the certain population, the indigent population to live there.”

Gray said tearing down the building, despite its many problems, is not a good idea.

“Continually demolishing buildings like this is not the answer, because the population that it’s serving needs a housing component,” he said.

Once the building is sold and repaired, Watertown city council member Lisa Ruggiero said it needs to be better maintained.

“I hope that maybe whoever does end up with it will be more hands on,” she said.

“Maybe they need to have a manager who will be there, to make sure things are being run and managed correctly,” she said.

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