If you have an extra $375,000 lying around, you could own the dilapidated former Chinese restaurant on Barclay Heights that was once Clovelea, the majestic manor home of Saugerties industrialist William Sheffield. The Dragon Inn has been listed for sale by Win Morrison Realty for that price, a far cry from the more than $800,000 that former owner Ching Ya Wu was looking to get before he lost the property for unpaid taxes and mortgage payments.
Members of the village of Saugerties Historic Review Board (HRB) said at their March 22 meeting that they were happy to see the deteriorating building back on the market. They hope that someone with a plan to restore the historic property might be interested.
Chris Wasserbach, president of TSSI, local company specializing in the electrical and mechanical field who was at the meeting, said he might have a client who is interested in purchasing the property.
Current owner Brooklyn-based broker Jason Moskowitz at one time had plans to turn the building into a boutique hotel. He had been asked to be at the HRB’s meeting in the hope that he would apply for a permit from the board to remove the now-collapsed front addition to the building. He wasn’t there.
Moskowitz picked up the building for about $100,000 in a tax sale.
Village building code officer Eyal Saad had sent letters and emails to Moskowitz telling him that something must be done to the building to seal it up to keep out vagrants, to prevent further damage to the building from snow and rain getting in through broken windows, and to remove the hazardous piles of wood from the collapsed front addition.
HRB member David Minch said the collapse and continuing decay of the building constituted “demolition by neglect,” an argument made by a number of local history buffs that want to see the historic old structure saved and restored. Minch added that Moskowitz hasn’t done anything to stabilize the building, and it’s imperative that something be done soon.
Unfortunately, pointed out village trustee Terry Parisian, who serves as liaison to the HRB. there is nothing the village can do to force Moskowitz to do anything with the building unless they take him to court. “The mayor [William Murphy] and trustees,” Parisian said, “are unwilling to spend taxpayer money to take Moskowitz to court. It’s a gorgeous building, and trustees would love to see it fixed up.”
Minch pressed Parisian about getting the building sealed up, saying the village “was not applying the law.” Parisian responded that the village government s didn’t want to go to court over the issue.
HRB chair Jonathan Shapiro told Wasserbach the board would be very accommodating to anyone that might want to purchase the building and fix it up. Shapiro told Wasserbach the building could be turned into apartments or a B&B. “We’d be interested in working with anyone that would like to restore the building,” Shapiro said.
“There’s a lot of latitude here,” Minch added. “The important part is the preservation of the mansion portion of the building.”
Wasserbach said he’d talk to his client and get back to the board.
Meanwhile board members said they would press forward in trying to get Moskowitz to apply for a demolition permit to remove the collapsed addition and to seal the building up.