By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA – St. Lawrence Plaza on NYS Hwy. 37 that houses Hannaford, Office Max and others stores has filed a lawsuit to lower its property assessment by 90 percent, or $4.5 million.
And St. Regis Nursing Home, 89 Grove St., is seeking to drop its property valuation by $1.7 million.
Mike Ward, assessor for the town of Massena said W.P. Realty, which owns the building, is seeking to lower its assessed value of $5.1 million to $509,472.
“They’re claiming they’re over-assessed, but in July 2008 [W.P. Realty] paid $7,761,225,” Ward said. “They’re just throwing numbers out there … totally unrealistic numbers.”
Ward noted that the realty company is not grieving B.J.’s, which is assessed at $2.5 million.
“I can’t speak for the town board, but as a past commercial appraiser … I think we’re on really solid ground with [St. Lawrence Plaza],” according to Massena’s assessor.
Several miles west on state Route 37, Kent Grove Realty, owner of St. Regis Nursing Home, is contesting its assessed value of $3.7 million. They claim it is worth $2 million.
“Their [Medicare] reimbursement rates they get from the state are going down,” Ward said. “A nursing home is a unique piece of property.”
He said the assessment is per bed, and the bed value is based on many factors, one of the largest being Medicare reimbursements. St. Regis’ 162 beds are assessed at $23,000 each.
“Nursing homes have been getting less and less each year and everything else is going up,” Ward said, adding that he believes St. Regis and the town board will negotiate and come to an agreement.
“I don’t think this will end up in a court fight,” he theorized.
On Monday, the town of Massena announced that two other local businesses were taking issue with their property assessments.
The Harte Haven shopping center, located on State Highway 37 and owned by Massena HHSC, Inc. is currently assessed at $5,115,560, an amount determined by the Board of Assessment Review after a previous challenge by the owners. They argue it is worth $2 million.
The Northern New York Newspapers building, also located along State Highway 37, is currently assessed at $2,004,400. The company, owned by the Johnson Newspaper Corp. that publishes the Daily Courier Observer, Ogdensburg Journal and St. Lawrence Plaindealer in St. Lawrence County, claims the building and property are only worth $1 million.