Town Tavern agreement of sale signed

LOCK HAVEN — The sales agreement has been signed for the former Town Tavern at 47-51 Bellefonte Ave.

City Council voted Monday night to buy the dilapidated building for $10,000, with the city also paying itself the back taxes owed on the property.

The seller is David Mayes.

The date and time the two parties will close on this deal has not been set, City Manager Gregory J. Wilson said Tuesday, but there appear to be no obstacles to the sale.

This building has been vacant for years and now poses a public safety hazard, according to the city. It has had a significant hole in its roof for at least six years, Wilson said, and recently, part of a wall in its rear section collapsed and caused damage to a neighboring property.

The city’s intention is to raze the building, which is about 130 years old.

Mayes also is co-owner of what is now a vacant lot across the alley from the old Town Tavern. The lot had held a shuttered storefront where people once bought furniture. The vacant store was gutted by fire in 2015. Mayes and co-owner Brian Osenbach apparently took no action to deal with the shell the flames had left behind, and the city had to pay to have it razed earlier this year, once again to protect public safety.

The demolition contract was for $64,499, and the city placed a lien against the vacant lot so it could recover the costs.

That lot, at 37-41 Bellefonte Ave., has back taxes owed on it, and it is now up for judicial sale on Sept. 20. The city will be at the sale to try to buy it, so the local government can walk away with something in return for the money it spent on demolishing the dangerous burned-out building, Wilson said.

A judicial sale is the next step after a sheriff’s sale, and at this level, buyers may not have to satisfy any liens, mortgages, other encumbrances, or delinquent taxes attached to the properties they purchase.

So, if anyone else buys the vacant lot, the city may get nothing.

Wilson said the city intends to bid on the lot, right up to the amount that the back taxes, fees, and the city’s lien against it total when added together.

After that point, he said, if someone else bids as little as $1 higher, the lien will have to be satisfied and the city will gets its money back.

If in the end, the city owns two vacant lots on Bellefonte Avenue with an alley running between them, it could market those two lots together. And if a developer buys them, City Council could consider making that section of alley private and giving it to the buyer.

A few people have already stopped in City Hall and made inquiries about the potential those two properties offer, Wilson said.

However, there have been no serious development proposals yet, he said.