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Local businessman buys Clinton Street eyesore

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The new owner of a vacant Clinton Street apartment building with a dubious past promises that neighbors will like what he plans to do with the property.

On May 21, Roger R. Howard, who owns Howard Orthotics and Prosthetics two doors away, acquired the boarded-up apartment building at 203 Clinton St. from Bayview Loan Servicing LLC, Coral Gables, Fla., the holder of the property’s mortgage. A company called RCAN LLC which Mr. Howard co-owns with his wife, Cheryl L., purchased the property for $77,777, according to the city’s assessment office.

Mr. Howard, who also is involved in a venture to build a distillery in Clayton, said they bought the property because it was a neighborhood nuisance. So far, he has not decided exactly what he will do with the neighborhood eyesore — he may tear it down and turn it into a parking lot.

“I think the neighbors will be very happy with what we do with it,” he said.

If he does not demolish it, Mr. Howard will be required to bring it up to code.

A “for sale” sign went up April 12 in front of the deteriorating building, and the real estate agent handling the property received more than a dozen inquiries before Mr. Howard closed the deal.

In January, the Florida lender started foreclosure action on the property against Marie E. Anderson, a former Fort Drum soldier now living in Fairbanks, Alaska, according to court documents in the Jefferson County clerk’s office. The documents state that she owed a principal balance of $105,000 on a $106,500 mortgage given in July 2007.

In October, a drug bust at the building resulted in three arrests and the seizure of 20 packets of heroin. The tenants then were evicted, and the building has sat vacant ever since.

On Oct. 3, Linda C. Brandt, 59, Ashley M. House, 24, and Jamar Taylor, 23, were arrested in a raid at the house on charges of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. During the raid, police said, they found heroin, 7 grams of cocaine, small quantities of crack cocaine and marijuana, drug paraphernalia and $200 in cash. The street value of the drugs was estimated at $1,300.

Mr. Howard was aware of the building’s dubious past, but he did not know exactly what happened. He recalled seeing “a lot of traffic” going in and coming out of the building. He also remembered seeing several police cars and vans in front of the property on the day of the arrests.

Ms. House and Ms. Brandt were sentenced to time served in jail and five years’ probation. Mr. Taylor was sentenced to a year in the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building.

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