Options remain for Maranatha


By Jim Poole

Even though the Maranatha Family Center in Warnerville remains closed, options remain for its reopening.
But getting finances sorted out--and resolved--will take time, so any reopening may not happen soon.
Potential investor Da-lai Wu, who had planned to become an equity partner of Maranatha with owner Stella McKenna, scrapped those plans last week.
He chose to back out delays in getting approvals pushed the possible opening too late in the year to take advantage of the profitable winter season for a gym.
Mr. Wu's decision to abandon the project--for now--came after the New York State Development Corporation filed a foreclosure action on Maranatha and Ms. McKenna's other properties two weeks ago. The action seeks $1.8 million.
This week, however, Mr. Wu re-evaluated his prospects and is considering other possibilities.
"I think about the total result," he said of his attempt to become a partner, "and now the total result was a zero.
"I'm not happy about it, but the show's not over."
He plans to meet with NBT Bank, one of five banks represented by the New York Development Corp., to see whether it would agree to having him run Maranatha.
The director of player management for Rush-n-Crush, a professional tennis business, Mr. Wu believes his experience would benefit operating Maranatha.
"I have some money and my experience," Mr. Wu said. "The bank can change everything. Are they willing to get involved? We might be able to do it."
Meanwhile, Town of Richmondville officials plan to review their Maranatha options at a town board meeting December 12.
In mid-November, the town board refused to sign off on a waiver that would have allowed Mr. Wu to become an equity partner. The refusal protected the town in case the state wanted to recoup grant money spent on the project, according to town attorney J.R. Parshall.
Richmondville's options are limited, Mr. Parshall said Monday, because "we don't hold control over [Ms. McKenna's] building."
But there are still possibilities the town could investigate, though Mr. Parshall wouldn't disclose them.
"We have an interest in development and creating jobs," he said. "Perhaps other businesses would be interested in going in there."
Richmondville Supervisor Dick Lape agreed that board members would consider options on the 12th.
"J.R.'s got some ideas, but I think it's pretty much up to the banks," Mr. Lape said.
"It's my understanding. . .my opinion, that if someone came in and offered the banks the money [to satisfy the foreclosure], they'd take it. But that's just my opinion."
Told about Mr. Wu's plan to contact NBT Bank, Mr. Lape applauded.
"I hope he does," Mr. Lape said. "It would be great, the best thing that could happen."
Ms. McKenna did not comment for this story.