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Andros Diner in Belmont up for auction Tuesday

Posted by Sarah Thomas  May 3, 2011 10:02 AM

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Andros Diner, the Trapelo Road eatery that has been plagued with tax problems, will be auctioned off to the highest bidder today at 1 p.m., according to Belmont officials.

The auction will take place at the diner, which has been closed since February for unpaid state taxes.

The auction is being held by Fairview Commercial Lending Inc., which holds a $400,000 mortgage on the property, according to the Middlesex County Registry of Deeds.

The property was seized by the state on Feb. 16, according to Robert Bliss, spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Bliss said the restaurant's owners, John and Annette Manetas, owed a total of $96,135 in back taxes to the state.

The Manetases also owed an estimated $75,000 in unpaid property taxes, water, sewer, and electric bills to the town of Belmont.

The bank tried to auction off the property earlier this year, according to James Mitchell, an attorney for Fairview. But he said that the two highest bidders were unable to complete the transaction.

"In the first auction, our high bid was for $640,000, with the second highest bid for $635,000," Mitchell said. "The property is being sold subject to taxes owed to the town, which is standard operating procedure."

The Manetases remain responsible for the unpaid state taxes, Bliss said.

"The town isn't going to lose on this, it's just an issue of timing," said Floyd Carman, Belmont treasurer. "Any new owner will have to assume those liabilities."

Carman said that the steep property tax bill was probably behind the earlier auction deals falling through, but that he was confident the property could find a buyer.

"It's a good location, and sooner or later someone is going to want to take ownership of it," Carman said. "But I have the final say on building and health permits, and until we get the tax liability sorted either by being paid off or with a payment plan the site will stay dormant."

The property is 6,011 square feet and is valued at $871,000, according to the Belmont Assessor's department. The Manetases first purchased the property in 1974.

In addition to the tax burden, anyone looking to open a restaurant at the location will need to make extensive renovations to get the building up to modern health and safety codes, said Stefan Russakow, director of the Health Department.

"Everything needs to be prepared safely and in accordance with the food code, and we would work with any new owner educating them about what we want to see," Russakow said. "But there will be a significant amount of expense."

The Belmont Board of Selectmen previously authorized Carman to craft a payment plan that would allow the Manetases to reopen the restaurant. Carman said today that only one payment on that plan had been made.

Sarah Thomas can be reached at sarah.m.thomas@gmail.com.

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