Talks went nowhere to get GE Capital to help redevelop the Mercy nursing home once Samaritan Medical Center moves out early next year.
Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said Wednesday that GE Capital, the building's lienholder, did not help to gain control of the complex.
The Watertown Local Development Corp. approached the financial giant about unloading the Stone Street property through foreclosure because it seems highly unlikely it will ever get its financial return. It had been hoped the giant lending firm then would be compensated for the foreclosure expenses.
As a result of what happened with GE Capital, the building's fate remains very much in doubt. That leaves the city to wait to see whether the owner, MGNH Inc., pays its property taxes or if the city will end up with the property.
“There's really not much we can do,” the mayor said, adding it was a good idea to continue dialogue with the area's state lawmakers to see what they can do about the situation.
He made his comment at Wednesday morning's Advantage Watertown meeting.
Earlier this year, the WLDC, also known as the Watertown Trust, had a preliminary discussion with a developer to entice interest in the property, which will become vacant in March when Samaritan Medical Center opens its 288-bed assisted-living and skilled-nursing facility off outer Washington Street.
But the mayor acknowledged those efforts would not move ahead without obtaining control of the building.
City officials have said they believe GE Capital holds the key in acquiring the 420,000-square-foot complex. In the past, city officials have talked about obtaining the complex through the cumbersome tax sale process, which could take three years. In October, Samaritan, which occupies part of the complex, paid the $211,159 in back property taxes on the nursing home, so it is now current.
In other business, Advantage Watertown chairman John K. Bartow Jr. said he would like to attend a future City Council work session to talk about city housing issues.
Members of the group of business and community leaders talked for about an hour Wednesday about how the city could improve the aging housing stock. They also voiced concerns about what will happen with vacancies of small rental housing properties once three new apartment complexes totaling about 800 units open.
Members said they believe the city should be on top of the situation when 198-unit Creekwood Apartments off Mill Street, Morgan Management's 394-unit apartment complex on County Route 202 and the 296-unit Beaver Meadow Apartments behind the Target store on Outer Arsenal Street are completed.