Seven years after fire, abandoned Governors Motor Inn is for sale

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Pin in a lock: One of the property-maintenance violations with which the owners of Governors Motor Inn in Guilderland are being charged is failure to secure the doors and windows to prevent unauthorized people from entering.

GUILDERLAND — The Governors Motor Inn at 2505 Western Ave., which has been closed and boarded up since it suffered extensive fire damage in June 2010, is listed for sale for the first time since its financial and legal problems began. Owners of the property appeared in Guilderland Town Court last week on charges of property-maintenance violations.

The property was listed this week with CM Fox Real Estate, at a price of $475,000. That price, said Brian Meurs of CM Fox, factors in the need to pay off back taxes of more than $200,000. According to Albany County tax rolls, the property has a full-market value of $588,235 and a taxable value of $500,000.

According to Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber and Lou Vitelli, town building inspector, Guilderland officials have received a letter from TD Bank, stating that it plans to release property owner, Laxmi LLC of New Jersey, from the remaining mortgage balance. Barber said this week that he understood the amount remaining on the mortgage exceeds $300,000.

Barber believes that, due to the county’s tax lien and ongoing town court proceedings, the bank decided to write off its lien and release the mortgage. He noted that he also believes TD Bank took “most, if not all, of the fire-insurance payment” and applied it against the mortgage debt, a process that took years. Barber said that it was his educated guess that that was why the bank was willing to release the rest of its mortgage.

TD Bank officials could not be reached for comment.


The Enterprise — Michael Koff 
The town has brought charges on 26 property-maintenance violations against the owner of the Governors Motor Inn at 2505 Western Ave. in Guilderland, and against TD Bank, which holds the mortgage on the property. 


The property still has liens with the county. Unpaid local taxes have been accruing since 2012 and total about $209,000 owed to the county, according to Michael McLaughlin, director of policy and research with the Albany County Executive’s Office.

The county has sent the owner a notice of foreclosure, McLaughlin said, although the county has not taken control of the property. McLaughlin noted that the delinquency is with the property and not the owner, and that, if the property were to be sold without the back taxes being paid off, the delinquency would transfer to the new owner.

In May, the town charged the owner, Laxmi LLC, and the mortgage-holder, TD Bank, with 26 property-maintenance violations, including: failure to safeguard vacant premises; failure to secure doors accessible to unauthorized persons; failure to maintain the exterior in good repair and to keep it structurally sound and sanitary; failure to maintain structural elements that show signs of deterioration and that may not be capable of supporting imposed loads; failure to maintain roofs and flashing; failure to maintain exterior walls free from holes, breaks, and loose or rotting material; failure to maintain windows and door frames in good repair and and to keep them watertight; and failure to keep the exterior free from weeds.

A representative of Laxmi LLC appeared in Guilderland Town Court on Aug. 10 on these charges, according Vitelli. The charges list Jimmy Patel of Laxmi LLC as the defendant. The man who answered the telephone at a number that Vitelli provided to The Enterprise for Laxmi hung up without answering Enterprise questions.

Listing agent Tony Trimarchi of CM Fox said that the building will need to be demolished. “You’re not going to be able to use the same building. You make something nice and new,” he said.


The Enterprise — Michael Koff
After a fire in 2010, the burned wing of the motel was cut away and demolished, and these now-weathered plywood boards were put up to seal it off. 


The property is in a Local Business zone, which the town code says provides for “shopping, dining, professional services, and employment opportunities that are accessible from residential neighborhoods.” Uses permitted in Local Business districts include bed-and-breakfast inns, and general or medical offices. With a special-use permit, the property could house, for instance, a bank, bowling alley, garden facility, fast-food or sit-down restaurant, or a local shopping center. Any use would require, the code says, review of the impact of lighting, noise, odors, and other factors on nearby properties.

Asked if the town has had any problem with squatters on the property, Vitelli said, “We haven’t had any issues recently.” The property is “more or less secured right now, but not really to our satisfaction,” he said.

Barber said at the Aug. 15 town board meeting that the town has had “a number of inquiries” in the past couple of weeks from people interested in developing the property. He thanked Vitelli and Acting Chief Building and Zoning Inspector Jacqueline M. Coons, whom he said had “aggressively used” the town’s Abandoned Properties Law in this case.

A potential buyer would need to take on the cost of doing an asbestos survey prior to demolition, Barber told The Enterprise this week, since the motel was built in an era when asbestos was likely used for insulation.

The tax rolls do not specify what year the building was erected, but it existed in at least 1965, when an advertisement for a concert by “the fabulous Pat Meehan Trio”  — with full-course dinners and dancing — to be held in the motel’s “Governors Room” ran in The Enterprise. In later years, the motel rented rooms by the hour.

John Haluska, a retired real-estate appraiser, who often presses the town to do more about its abandoned buildings, said Wednesday that he was “encouraged” by the listing of the property. Vitelli worked hard over a long period, Haluska said, to delineate the “innumerable” problems with the property and had communicated “very pleasantly but firmly” with the owners. Haluska noted that he was present in court on Aug. 10 when the owners appeared on the property-violation charges, and he said that Judge John Bailey was “firm but compassionate” with them.

The matter will be continued in Guilderland Town Court on Sept. 18 at 5:30 p.m., according to Jennifer Stephens, clerk to the justices.

Corrected on Aug. 18, 2017: We originally wrote that John Haluska was a retired assessor; he is actually a retired real-estate appraiser.

More Guilderland News

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.