Knowlton Technologies purchases Fort Drum Vehicle Storage warehouse from city

Knowlton Technologies was the successful bidder Tuesday for the warehouse that once was owned by the Fort Drum Vehicle Storage company.

During a public auction, James S. Ganter, a partner in Knowlton Technologies, submitted a high bid of $80,000 after four bidders tried to get the city-owned building at 753 Rear W. Main St.

The papermaker will use the building for storage and as its main shipping terminal once a shipping and loading dock has been added to the structure this spring, Mr. Ganter said. Knowlton Technologies has been renting three unidentified sites for those departments, he said.

“It’ll be a nice fit for us,” he said afterward, while filling out an $8,000 check for a 10 percent deposit to the city comptroller’s office.

The Watertown City Council still must approve the property transaction, most likely at its Jan. 22 meeting. Knowlton Technologies then will have until Feb. 22 to pay the remaining $72,000.

The city had to hold a second auction after the apparent successful bidder in the first auction failed to show up for the closing. Ruby “Charlene” Williams, the chief financial officer for Fort Drum Vehicle Storage, submitted a $125,000 bid on the warehouse during an Oct. 10 auction. She never paid the remaining amount owed to the city and forfeited a $12,500 deposit.

The city acquired the property when Fort Drum Vehicle Storage owners JoAnn Sanchez-Norquist and John S. Norquist lost it in July after they failed to pay $17,776.37 in back taxes.

The company continues to operate out of the office for the Hotis Motel, 23442 Route 37 in the town of Pamelia.

Mr. Ganter laughed when asked whether he was aware of the building’s interesting past. Tuesday’s public auction took just a few minutes and ended in not-so-dramatic fashion with Mr. Ganter’s bid.

After the auction, city Comptroller James E. Mills expressed confidence that the building was in good hands and that the city no longer would have to worry about its fate.

-Craig Fox, Watertown Daily Times staff writer