Empty dress factory to be sold for taxes
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | January 15,2014
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
The former Lynda Lee Fashion Inc. dress factory on the corner of State Street and Cleveland Avenue in Rutland will be sold for back taxes by the city.
A long-dormant industrial property is up for tax sale, which city officials hope will speed its rehabilitation.
With $14,085 in delinquent taxes and fees, the former dress factory at 10 Crescent Street is slated to go to tax sale Jan. 30.
“That is, probably, at this time, the No. 1 blighted industrial property in the city,” said Rutland Redevelopment Authority executive director Brennan Duffy. “I think that is undebatable. (The tax sale) is probably, at this point in time, the most appropriate way to change ownership, which is more likely to lead to productive reuse in the future.”
However, owner John Ruggiero, who will still have a year in which to pay off his delinquent taxes following the sale, said he doesn’t think an ownership change is in the cards.
“We’re not throwing our hands up,” Ruggiero said Tuesday evening. “We have a couple things in the works. We’ll definitely redeem it by the time the year’s up.”
The 89,115-square foot building, constructed in 1900, has most recently housed cold storage and a paintball facility and has not served as manufacturing in some time. Ruggiero bought the building in 2011, according to city records.
“It was a different economy then,” he said. “We thought we could get some incubator space in there, but then the economy went bad.”
Ruggiero said the building had additional strikes against it, starting with the need for new windows, roof work and a new side wall.
“It’s big, it’s obsolete and it’s in a horrible neighborhood,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of people look at it for smaller business space, but they just don’t want to be down in that neighborhood.”
Ruggiero said he tried unsuccessfully to market the building to Community College of Vermont and the Salvation Army.
The city is looking for more than just back taxes out of Ruggiero. Building and Zoning director James Simonds said his office has issued Ruggiero 75 tickets for failure to clean up the back of the property following the demolition of a wooden addition. The $50 tickets, which increase to $500 if they remain unpaid, can be attached to the property as liens, though they were not figured into the outstanding balance on the tax-sale notice.
City Treasurer Wendy Wilton said she believes the city could waive the tickets if the property winds up in new hands. Ruggiero said he was undecided what to do about them.
“I think some people have contested this and it’s going through the court system,” he said, referring to the city’s ticketing campaign targeting blighted properties. “We’re waiting and seeing what happens with that.”
As for the rubble that prompted the tickets, Ruggiero said, “that’ll get taken care of definitely this spring.”