More legal issues mounting for former JB Wise Place building owner in Watertown

Craig Fox, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.
·2 min read

Apr. 15—WATERTOWN — There's another wrinkle in the legal issues involving the owner of a JB Wise Place building who is almost 210 days delinquent on her loans.

Donald C. Rutherford, chief executive officer of the local development corporation, also known as the Watertown Trust, said Wednesday that Vina Bonner, owner of the building at 223 JB Wise Place that housed the FunXcape indoor children's center, has refused to sign a deal to sell the building to local developer Jake Johnson.

The deal would allow the Watertown Trust to recoup some of the money that Ms. Bonner, who now lives in Hawaii, owes to the economic development agency.

Without her cooperation in the deal, the Watertown Trust plans to initiate legal action against her because she currently owes $226,000 on two loans.

The issue came up during the board's revolving loan fund committee meeting Wednesday morning.

The Watertown Trust soon will send a "letter of cure" to Ms. Bonner, instructing her that she has to take care of the situation or the loan would go into default.

Watertown Trust officials are growing more frustrated with the situation.

"There's no communication," Mr. Rutherford said. "I do not want to spend any more time on this."

On Wednesday, Teresa M. Bennett, a Syracuse attorney representing the Watertown Trust in the matter, recommended that the organization doesn't do anything else right now, adding that mortgage holder Key Bank will most likely move forward with foreclosure proceedings on the building.

She told the committee that the Watertown Trust might still be able to recoup some of its losses.

Mr. Johnson declined to comment about Ms. Bonner refusing to move forward with the deal to sell the building.

Several months ago, she promised Mr. Rutherford that she would start paying on the loan again, but that never happened.

The building was condemned back in November because the fire sprinkler system didn't work and there were some other violations.

According to the city Code Enforcement Office back then, the building was unfit for occupancy. The building remains empty.

Ms. Bonner still owes $226,000 on loans she took out with the trust to borrow $150,000 for equipment for the play center and $130,000 in gap funding to help finance the business to get it opened in 2014.

In 2014, Ms. Bonner opened the FunXcape indoor children's play center with much fanfare, proclaiming it would be the local version of Chuck E. Cheese.