CIC board seeks legal advice on property proposal

EAST LIVERPOOL — Before making a recommendation to the full Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) board on a proposal to purchase the former Riverview Florist property, its property committee plans to seek legal advice.

The committee met Tuesday to discuss an offer from Capital Corporatum LLC, of Georgia, which entails purchasing the 85-plus acres of ground for $300,000, payable in three $100,000 installments.

The principal person involved in the deal is John “Jack” Woomer, who some committee members indicated is from East Liverpool.

The proposal notes that the buyer intends to develop the land as a multi-use commercial/business park “to maximize job growth,” but committee members voiced concerns about the vagueness of the proposal, with planning Director Bill Cowan saying, “I don’t know what to say” about the proposal, adding, “The intended use isn’t clear at all.”

Member Craig Kidd said there has been some talk of residential uses on the property and said he is not necessarily against that, adding, “But what we need in town are jobs.”

Kidd said he has spoken to Woomer and asked what he has in mind as far as tenants, saying, “He just has a couple people in mind.”

Member Todd Alexander was also concerned with the discrepancy between what is expected of the seller — the CIC — and the buyer, saying, “There’s a whole bunch of what we’re supposed to do but not as much if they don’t do what they’re supposed to.”

He pointed out the proposal offers a $300,000 price for the property but that the first $100,000 payment won’t be made for 18 months, with the second one not made for another 42 months.

“We’re looking at almost five years by the time we close the deal,” he said.

Member Al Fricano said, “If they go in and start putting in infrastructure right away, I don’t have any problem with 18 months.”

The city paid about $1.3 million for the parcel of ground, which was then annexed into the city from Liverpool Township, and Fricano pointed out about $500,000 of that was recouped through oil and gas lease payments, so that can be deducted from the city’s cost.

He suggested that the proposal be presented to legal counsel, also saying the $100 earnest money offered is not sufficient and he would like to see that increased to about $5,000.

Fricano also said he opposes a stipulation in the proposal that, in the event of a legal controversy, the winner’s fees are paid by the other party, saying, “I think everyone should pay their own attorney fees.”

Fricano told the other committee members, “This guy has a lot of credibility and is real anxious to get started. We need to take it to an attorney.”

Speaking from the audience, incoming city council member Brian Kerr also supported the project, saying he has been working with Woomer for two years on it and that he believes this is the fourth or fifth contract he has submitted to the city.

“He has a passion and a heart for this area and he has the money. He is willing to work with anyone. I think this is probably the best thing out there right now. He is a home town boy who can create jobs. I’m for him,” Kerr said.

Alexander said he had looked up Woomer’s corporation and “found nothing they’ve done,” asking, “What is the track record of this company?”

He said when the Miller-Valentine Corporation proposed building the Market Street Lofts, he had taken the same step, looking for other buildings of that nature it had completed, saying, “I just like to check references.”

Kidd added, “It would go a long way if (Woomer) would come up here and meet with us,” and Fricano said, “If we had something that looked like it will work, I’m sure he would be willing.”

Cowan offered to take members’ written concerns and comments to James Scafide, the California attorney hired to negotiate with the Velfera Auto Design company for use of the property, saying Scafide has indicated his desire to stay involved with the Riverview project.

Members agreed that would be the step to be taken, with no recommendation made to the full board at this time.

Fricano also said he had received an offer from a contractor to purchase the lights and gates at the Riverview Florist property for $500, but not motion or second was forthcoming following some discussion about the fact that Woomer’s proposal includes a stipulation he will renovate the existing building on the property where those items are located.

Kidd voiced concern about “piecemealing it out under his feet” if the lights and gates were sold.