Governors Inn sale falls through

— Enterprise file photo by Michael Koff

The Governor’s Motor Inn on Western Avenue has been closed and boarded up since a fire in 2010.

GUILDERLAND — The would-be buyer of Governor’s Motor Inn had planned, until the sale fell through in late February, to put up a mixed-use building on the site, said Realtor Tony Trimarchi of C. M. Fox.

The unnamed buyer decided that, with back taxes, demolition, and rebuilding, the project was too expensive, and pulled out, Trimarchi said.

Meanwhile, Albany County is moving forward with foreclosure proceedings on all liens dating from 2012, including Governor’s Motor Inn, said Michael McLaughlin, director of policy and research for the county.

“We don’t foreclose on individual properties. We foreclose on lien years,” McLaughlin noted.

The county will likely be able to complete the paperwork to take judgment on the Governors Inn property in the next 30 to 60 days, McLaughlin said on Feb. 22.

Over $200,000 is owed to the county in back taxes on the property.

The property will go into the Albany County Land Bank, McLaughlin said.

The inn property was first listed for sale at $475,000, and the asking price had been lowered numerous times, Trimarchi said, to $425,000, then $350,000, then $325,000, then $290,000; and, finally, $275,000.

The relatively low sale price for a large commercial property on Western Avenue was intended to make the land more affordable for a would-be buyer, who would need to demolish and rebuild, said Trimarchi.  

The Land Bank

Before the Land Bank was founded by the county in 2014, the county auctioned off the properties owing back taxes.

There are currently 11 properties in Guilderland that are listed as “delinquent” on the Albany County Auction website, including the Governors Motor Inn.

Many of these are actually paid up, according to McLaughlin, although the payments are not reflected on the website. (See accompanying list.)

The Land Bank takes only properties that do not have environmental contamination concerns, McLaughlin said.

Asbestos or lead, which are thought to exist in the Governors Motor Inn, would not qualify as “environmental concerns,” he said, unless, for instance, the asbestos were airborne and a community risk.

“If we withdrew every property that had lead or asbestos, we would withdraw every property in Albany County,” he said.

If the county took possession of a building with environmental concerns, such as an old dry cleaners or gas station, McLaughlin said, the building would go into “withdrawn status.” The existing owner would then continue to have liability for environmental cleanup costs, said McLaughlin.

“One of the advantages of going through the land bank,” said Executive Director Adam Zaranko, is that, by the time properties come to the organization, the liens owed on them have already been addressed by the county.

“People who go through a land bank generally don’t have to deal with that tax burden on top of it,” said Zaranko. “I know that having those tax liens cleared is a tremendous benefit to getting them [those properties] back online.”

“When the county forecloses, we clear title,” McLaughlin said.

The Land Bank has been successful, Zaranko said, in getting many properties that had been vacant for “three, four, five, or even 15 years” back onto the tax rolls.

The land bank has sold about 230 properties so far, said Zaranko, adding, “No motor inns, yet.”

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