LOCKPORT – David M. Tosetto’s hopes of buying Niagara County’s old nursing home at a reduced price are gone, county leaders said after the County Legislature meeting ended late Tuesday.
After a $196,000 sale was removed from the agenda following party caucuses, which in turn followed the threat of a lawsuit by the operator of a Lockport assisted living facility to block the sale, legislators decided to stick with the $550,000 price that they had approved and that Tosetto had agreed to 13 months ago.
“He can pay the 550, or he can walk,” County Attorney Claude A. Joerg said late Tuesday.
“He’s either accepting it or not accepting it at $550,000,” County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz confirmed Wednesday.
Tosetto, reached by phone, declined to comment on the situation.
But Glatz said he expects to eventually set a deadline for Tosetto to pay the money or give up his plans to place a 150-bed assisted living facility in the five-story Mount View Health Facility, closed since 2007.
“There’s got to be some kind of line in the sand,” Glatz said. “Otherwise we go back to square one.”
Tosetto, the longtime director of development for ElderWood Associates, had received state approvals for a 150-bed facility that he hoped could open in February.
The price had been negotiated down to $196,000 because Tosetto was absorbing the cost of removing asbestos from the 74-year-old building off Upper Mountain Road in Lockport.
No one objected when the deal went through the Legislature’s Administration Committee last week. All seemed fine until Guy J. Agostinelli showed up Tuesday night.
Agostinelli, a Buffalo attorney, was representing Briarwood Manor, a Lockport assisted living facility. He threatened to sue to block the $196,000 sale to a potential competitor, saying Briarwood would have paid more than that.
Joerg pointed out that the property has been listed for sale with a Realtor for five years and that no one but Tosetto had made an offer.
Agostinelli said there should have been an auction; Joerg said an auction was not required.
Wednesday, Glatz said he thinks making Tosetto pay the original agreed-upon price would undermine any hopes of a successful lawsuit.
Joerg said Tuesday he thought the county had done things correctly even with the lower price.
Agostinelli said Wednesday he is examining the legality of the whole process. “We’re actually looking at what happened last year,” he said.
If Tosetto walks away from buying Mount View, will Briarwood Manor make an offer?
“Provided they did it the right way: a public advertisement and solicitation of bids,” Agostinelli answered.