OSWEGO — Local developer Anthony Pauldine purchased the vacant Ladies Home of Oswego Friday via an auction held by an auctioneer and members of the Ladies Home internal governing board.
After 146 years of providing living arrangement for elderly woman from all over the county, the Ladies Home, located on East Third Street, announced earlier this year it would close its doors before the end of February. Pauldine said Friday he jumped on the opportunity of potentially acquiring the property once he caught wind the non-profit would close down.
“As soon as I heard they were closing, we contacted their lawer and asked what the process was and what they were going to do with it,” Pauldine said. “We wondered if they were gonna auction it and it piqued my interest and I submitted a bid.”
At an auction held Friday at the property, Pauldine submitted the minimum bid of $145,000 and said he was excited when he learned he was the only bidder.
“I am excited to have the building and honestly don’t know what we are going to do with it yet.,” he said. “The next thing is to get a small management team and assess the condition of the building. We haven’t even gone through half of it.”
Pauldine called the auction “unexpected” and noted his excitement regarding the acquisition.
“I did not expect to get it,” the developer said of the building. “My head is kind of swimming and we need to take a few days to figure out what we want to do and what makes sense for the building.”
In order to decide on a plan, Pauldine said he wants to analyze the utility it can bring to the community. He called the building an “important, historic building” for the city.
“We don’t want it to fall into disrepair,” Pauldine said. “We want to first see what creative and innovative use we can give it.”
The developer said he expects to thoroughly analyze the building next week and a roadmap for its potential development and use is still very much in the distance.
“It’ll take a few months and we’ll talk to officials and learn how we can maximize the property and its use for the residents,” he said. “We want to be very cautious.”
Reviewing potential options for the building’s future, Pauldine said he wants to stay away from “carving the house into apartments” or renting the property as a fraternity house.
“It upsets me to think of someone doing that (developing apartments),” he said. “It needs to stay largely intact. “We want it to remain as intact as possible. It is an important piece of our history.”
Pauldine said he wants to preserve the public perception that suggests his company is known for revitalizing historic properties.
“We have now a history with restoring particular buildings, it becomes a labor of love,” the developer said.
Back in February, former employees and volunteers at the Ladies Home told The Palladium-Times of mistreatment and a failure from the internal governing board to fairly compensate employees. Multiple individuals close to the Ladies Home told The Palladium-Times they could not speak publicly about the situation for fear of retribution.
Officials attributed the closure “ongoing financial difficulties,” such as increasing costs and “a dwindling number of residents.”
“While its story and history are something to be celebrated, with the changes in needs and desires, [the Ladies Home] no longer can compete in the marketplace with more updated facilities,” said attorney Michael J. Stanley on behalf of the Ladies Home of Oswego Board of Directors.
According to public real property records, the Ladies Home property at 143 E. 3rd St. has experienced multiple recent ownership changes.
On Sept. 9 of 2017, the organization Homes for the Homeless sold the property to the city of Oswego for $1. Later that year, on Dec. 12, the city of Oswego sold the property to Ladies Home of Oswego Inc. for no monetary compensation.
Oswego City Attorney Kevin Caraccioli said that the initial transaction occurred due to the non-profit’s inability to pay utility bills. The accumulated debt in unpaid water and sewer charges amounted to $11,144.35, with $6452.62 of that owed to the city and $4691.73 owed to the county, according to city records.
Caraccioli said that the Ladies Home paid the delinquent water and sewer invoices and the city deeded the property back to the organization.