It was going to be Liverpool’s biggest story of 2017:
Prominent village publican buys his fourth tavern here!
Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law reigned, and the sale fizzled. Here’s what happened or, more accurately, didn’t happen.
In my Jan. 4 column, headlined “New beginnings predicted for the village,” I promised that within a few weeks, we’d learn of “a dramatic change-of-ownership on a certain piece of valuable property on the Basin Block bounded by Lake Drive, First Street and South Willow Street adjacent to Onondaga Lake Park.”
The parcel in question is 110 S. Willow St., where the White Water Pub opened for business in 2009.
The property was — and is — owned by Liverpool Properties LLC, a real estate concern operated by late Liverpool businessman Val Lamont, who died in November 2015. Pub owner Mary Kay Manns leases the building from Liverpool Properties LLC. According to county tax records, the “village taxable value” of 110 S. Willow St. is $103,000.
At the time of his death, LaMont owned 44 properties in the village, according to the village clerk’s office. The village contains a total of 1,102 parcels. He also owned plenty of property in the town of Salina and the city of Syracuse.
His heirs, mother and son Valerie and Dennis Kosdrosky, appeared before the Liverpool Village Planning Board at its May 23, 2016, meeting to discuss ongoing plans on the Basin Block, bounded by Lake Drive, First Street and South Willow Street adjacent to Onondaga Lake Park.
The Kosdroskys seemed anxious to divest themselves of many of Lamont’s holdings, including 110 S. Willow, and hired Cushman & Wakefield/Pyramid Brokerage Company to list the property for sale.
Meanwhile the village rumor mill buzzed with word that Mary Kay Manns was seeking a buyer for her 7-year-old business, which has thrived — at least seasonally — drawing regular crowds to the White Water Pub’s patio bar.
Last week, however, Mary Kay declined to confirm that she had received a purchase offer from another village tavernkeeper, the same one who was interested in buying the property.
Back in January, as I doggedly pursued my “scoop,” I secured a half-dozen reliable sources confirming the property sale to John Gormel, whose family owns and operates The Retreat, the Cobblestone and the Barking Gull.
But thank goodness I paused, I hesitated, I waited to report the story until I got it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and John Gormel wasn’t granting interviews.
Seriously, I was this close to reporting the sale, because it was a sensational story and I had solid sources: the village’s No. 1 restaurateur was making a bold move to take over a fourth bar-bistro within village limits.
Though frustrated by the lack of confirmation, I held off, and I’m glad I did because on March 23, John’s son, Josh Gormel, made it clear to me that no contracts had been signed.
A couple sources indicated that his dad also made an offer for the business but failed to meet the lady’s terms. No comment from Ms. Manns.
Meanwhile, to convince customers that she’s still in business, Mary Kay has plastered a “Pub Is Open!” sign on the Cushman-Wakefield property-for-sale sign in front of her pub.
Local realtors say that the conditions of Manns’ lease will remain in effect regardless of the property’s sale to a new owner. In other words, if the property sale had gone through Gormel would have been the White Water’s landlord!
In the end, my sources info about Gormel’s purchase offer was confirmed at the May 15 village board meeting by Village Codes Enforcement Officer Bill Reagan. My sources just didn’t know that the offer had been withdrawn.
“The party which made the purchase offer withdrew the offer after he realized that there were easements attached to the property,” Reagan explained.
Reagan refers to easements involving a planned mid-block parking lot behind the Limp Lizard Barbecue, which also operates on Lamont property.
At its Jan. 30 meeting the village board created a new Tree Board, and Mayor Gary White appointed Trustee Christina Fadden Fitch as chairwomen. Fadden Fitch has been a member of the national Arbor Day Foundation for more than a quarter century.
Last week after a big ol’ maple collapsed onto Second Street, Chris reflected on the village tree population:
“Most of all, I am grateful no one was harmed by the incredible circumstance of this tree falling down on a clear, calm day. Secondly, it brings to mind our application to NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to participate in the community forestry program which would enable us to completely and comprehensively inventory all village trees.”
That inventory would include assessing the health of our trees. “A risk assessment [would be] performed by an arborist or forestry professional,” Chris wrote in an email. The village has yet to hear from the DEC if it will receive grant assistance to carry out this project. “While we always address any safety issues we are aware of, we look forward to developing a proactive management plan to avoid any other occurrences like these in the future. I hope NYSDEC takes note and will expedite our village’s participation so we can move forward.”
Contact the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org.