LYNN — The city has foreclosed on a Franklin Street property that leases to a chicken restaurant because the building owner owes more than $34,000 in back taxes.
On Nov. 18, Massachusetts Land Court awarded 61 Franklin St. to the city. Lynn has a one-year right of redemption, meaning the former owner, Ramon Gomez, has a year to pay his debt to the city and get ownership of his building back, according to Ward 2 City Councilor Rick Starbard.
But if he doesn’t pay his unpaid property taxes, which range between $4,000 and $5,000 annually and date back to 2015, the city can sell the property a year after the foreclosure date awarded by the court, Starbard said.
Gomez owns the building but leases it to Elmandio Crisostomo, owner of Caribe Restaurant, a Dominican establishment that appears to specialize in chicken dishes.
Crisostomo said he has been paying $1,500 a month in rent to Gomez, but Starbard said despite collecting the rent from his tenant, Gomez has not been paying his property taxes.
On Tuesday night, the City Council’s Public Property and Parks Committee voted to allow Caribe Restaurant to continue leasing the property and pay his monthly rent to the city. Gomez has not owned the property since November, but was still collecting rent, according to Starbard.
The city maintains liability of the property, which Cristosomo said has some structural damage. The building floods every time it rains, he said.
“Not that we want to be in the landlord business, but he’s going to pay the rent to us until either (Gomez) redeems the property or we sell the property,” said Starbard, chairman of the Public Property and Parks Committee. “We can evict whoever’s living in there once Land Court awards the property to the city.
“We could have evicted this guy, but you kind of feel bad for him because he’s running a business, he’s paying his rent and his landlord’s not doing the right thing. I feel bad making him close his business down and get out, but we could have very well done that and from a liability (stand)point, we probably should have, especially if the building is in bad shape.”
Gomez was sent a letter notifying him of the meeting, but did not appear before the committee on Tuesday. Cristosomo told the committee he had spoken with Gomez, who told him he planned to resolve the debt.