The city could make a good chunk of change on nine properties it acquired in June for unpaid taxes.
On Tuesday night, the Watertown City Council informally agreed to sell six houses, two commercial properties and a vacant lot through a public auction tentatively scheduled during the week of Oct. 8 to 12.
The properties include a house at 259 Seymour St. that contained furnishings and belongings for 22 years after the former owner died in 1990; a 26,281-square-foot warehouse at 753 Rear W. Main St. that housed Fort Drum Vehicle Storage; a tattoo shop that John D. Blacke — also known as Dr. Strange — owned at 606 Factory St. and a three-family house at 660 Huntington St. that he was living in until the city took it over.
The other houses that will go up for auction are 1407 State St., 221 S. Rutland St., 611-613 Olive St. and 507 Holcomb St. A vacant lot at 729 Morrison St. also will be sold.
Shawn R. McWayne, the city’s code enforcement supervisor, recommended the tattoo shop and a house at 123 E. Lynde St. be demolished. Council members, however, agreed to see whether there might be interest in Dr. Strange’s tattoo shop. The East Lynde Street house will be razed this fall, council members decided.
Mr. McWayne said the remaining properties “are some of the best the city has taken for taxes,” adding they are all structurally sound and in need of repair but can be saved.
This year’s properties are the most since 71 vacant lots and 17 houses and commercial structures generated $126,722 in revenue for the city in the fall of 2004, city Comptroller James E. Mills said.
City Council members have expressed optimism that the city could bring in a sizable amount in revenues, especially since only $20,000 was budgeted in city property sales this year.
Mr. Miller tallied up the total assessment for the properties at $692,800, with $205,700 of that coming from the former warehouse building on West Main Street. The city was owed $88,544 in back taxes before acquiring them.
Mr. Mills would not predict how much money the property sale could generate, saying, “We’ll have to wait and see until the day of the auction.”
Council members also have not ruled out the city participating in a program with Neighbors of Watertown Inc. to rehabilitate some of the houses and sell them to first-time home buyers.
Both Councilmen Joseph M. Butler Jr. and Jeffrey M. Smith suggested that the city might come out better financially because Neighbors has a proven track record of fixing up those types of properties and they then would generate more in property taxes.
Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham noted the two councilmen could block a sale from the public auction by voting against the transaction, because it takes a four-fifths vote.
The city’s Planning Department also recommended not auctioning off a part of the West Main Street property that includes a sliver of land along the Black River bank that could be used for development.