OSWEGO — Legal battles over a building in Oswego that once sat vacant and dilapidated have been put to rest, again.
A longstanding litigation to determine the rightful owners of the Cahill Building fell to the decision of the Appellate Division Fourth Department after a tedious legal battle that persisted over the course of several years.
The Appellate unanimously upheld a prior decision last week to dismiss developer Thomas Millar’s lawsuit against the city in April 2019. It will stay that developer Anthony Pauldine is the rightful owner of the building, who was also wrapped up in the lawsuit after the city chose him to replace Millar in 2015 due to the building’s deterioration during the course of the lawsuit.
Prior to Pauldine restoring and renovating the building, fire department officials had deemed it unsafe and dangerous due to a collapsing roof.
The building, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places, has since been installed with several apartments and a new commercial building. It was formerly the Coleman’s Pub and Restaurant.
Since 2013, Millar had been involved in a lawsuit with the city for voiding his contract to purchase the building. Oswego city officials said Millar failed to provide proof of financing, which they said was required in the contract. Millar said such provision of the contract was for his benefit, and therefore not required.
Millar said in 2013 the city and the community development office have “wrongfully and improperly attempted to terminate” the contract based upon the request for the proof of financing.
Millar had put $10,000 down on his $200,000 purchase of the building in April, 2013, according to prior reporting from The Palladium-Times.
The planned endeavor by Millar and his construction company, The Walton and Willet Stone Block LLC, along with Fowler Gardella Construction, was to develop the historic property to have apartments, a restaurant and five adjacent townhouses. These had been approved by the city’s planning and zoning boards, the Common Council and then-Mayor Thomas Gillen.
Pauldine’s lawyer, Anthony DiMartino, told The Palladium-Times work had been done on the building during litigation. He explained Millar was trying to own a building he didn’t put any work into.
“Litigation has prohibited us from getting a mortgage for a pilot agreement,” Pauldine said. “(Millar) has held everything in limbo for five years.”
Additionally, Pauldine said he’s ecstatic that the nearly 10-year legal battle has come to a close.
“I guess the fat lady finally sang,” he said. “We’re thrilled about it. I’ve never met (Millar) and it’s probably good that I haven’t. There’s a lot that I could say, but it probably shouldn’t be said.”
The case has lived through two mayoral administrations. Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow is happy to have the building in its current state, preserved as a historic landmark in the city with new functionality. Barlow said to The Palladium-Times that he’s also glad to see the case come to a close, adding that Pauldine “deserves all the credit, and that “it is a pleasure to team up with him on the many projects he has done in recent years.”
“The Cahill building litigation has been ongoing for many, many years, predating my time as mayor. We knew the case brought forth by Mr. Millar was a losing case all along, so we were thrilled to team up with Tony Pauldine to save the building from collapse, restore the building, and bring it back to life with quality apartments and tenants as part of our Downtown Revitalization Program,” Barlow said. “I’m thrilled to hear the case has been brought to a close, for good, and the outcome was as we expected. The city won, Mr. Pauldine won, and Mr. Millar lost, again. I give all the credit to Mr. Pauldine and his team did an excellent job saving the building, investing huge money, and putting his business on the line to save an Oswego treasure.”
The Palladium-Times reached out to Millar’s legal team for comment and whether or not further action would be taken. A response was not received by press time Wednesday.
DiMartino said it’s unlikely an attempt to appeal the recent decision will be successful since the court unanimously decided to uphold an earlier decision.