Legal papers will be filed this week in State Supreme Court, seeking a judgment against the owner of a Lockport restaurant that closed last fall, leaving a debt of more than $300,000 to the city's development agency.
Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said he's seeking a judgment against Peter Calieri, owner of the former Metropolitan Bar & Grill.
The Main Street restaurant shut its doors Nov. 3 after 14 months in business. As one of the prime tenants of Ulrich City Centre, it had been subsidized by $400,000 in loans from the Greater Lockport Development Corp.
Calieri was current on the loans, but under their terms, closing the business placed him in default. The city sold the fixtures to landlord David L. Ulrich at a Dec. 16 auction and applied the proceeds to the debt, but Calieri still owes about $321,000.
"I think there's personal guarantees on everything," Mayor Michael W. Tucker said.
Asked if the city can go after Calieri's other Lockport restaurant, the popular Village Eatery Italian Bistro on Davison Road, Ottaviano said, "We'll see what the judgment says."
On another matter, Ottaviano said the GLDC is being reincorporated in order to make it easier to transfer property titles from the city to the corporation.
The short-term point of the move approved by the GLDC board Thursday is to speed up the possible sale of a building on Canal Street, where Tucker has been negotiating with a potential buyer.
The city holds title to three vacant 19th century stone buildings on the street whose interiors were renovated to turn them into usable commercial space.
If not for the reincorporation, Ottaviano said, state law would require the GLDC to pay for an appraisal and pay the city full market value for the buildings before reselling them. Now, the city-GLDC transaction is a $1 paper deal.
"The city shouldn't hold title to [commercial] real estate," Ottaviano said.
Tucker wasn't sure anything would come of the current talks with a buyer he didn't disclose for the building at 79-81 Canal St., the former location of the Model T Bar. "We felt we had other people as interested [in the building] before, but they didn't materialize," he said.
Waterbourne Real Estate Advisors of Getzville was chosen in September to seek out tenants for Canal Street, but the contract has not been signed. Tucker said that's because he thought the city might be able to make its own deals. "We thought we were close a couple of times," he said.