Expansion of Tri State Ford project OK’d

EAST LIVERPOOL — A possible bidding war for an East End property appeared to be stopped before steaming ahead.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the East Liverpool Community Improvement Corporation, Thomas and Geraldine Mikes were in attendance from Youngstown Kenworth of Hubbard to follow up on their offer for the former Dollar General, 1561 Pennsylvania Ave.

Thomas Mikes had mailed Patrick Scafide, CIC president, an offer on the property after learning that the city had recently acquired the property for economic development. “We understand that there is a gentleman’s agreement in place to purchase the property for $800, but we would like to offer you considerably more for that parcel,” he wrote before offering $25,000.

Youngstown Kenworth owns the adjacent building.

“It would give us the opportunity to increase our investment and operations out of this location,” Mikes added.

City Safety-Service Director Brian Allen explained that the effort to get the property for Tri State Ford started a year ago with the old fire station. Since opening the facility, which has generated employment of 20-plus jobs, the dealership had approached the city about expanding next door.

Fast forward past the two sheriff’s sales, which sought a minimum of $69,000 for the property, and Youngstown Kenworth also surfaced wanting the property.

Mayor Ryan Stovall explained the process. “Once it goes for foreclosure twice, it then goes to the county treasurer, those back taxes are then forgiven if the city takes the property,” he said, adding the $800 cost is associated with transferring the title to the city.

Board member Ray Perozorio explained how he would love to see them here, but the CIC cannot accept Youngstown Kenworth’s deal on 1561 Pennsylvania Ave. “If we took your deal, you would be going home with the deed in your pocket, but our word wouldn’t mean that much,” he said.

Scafide agreed that “our word is our bond.”

“Tri State Ford has been a great neighbor,” he said, adding that he took umbrage with Marks’ comments about a sweetheart deal.

Geraldine Marks apologized for any misunderstandings regarding her call to Scafide, inquiring about the property. “I just wanted to see how $69,000 dropped to $800,” she said.

In other action, CIC members agreed to sign a letter of intent with the Capital Corporatum based out of Alpharetta, Georgia to negotiate terms on the 85 acres of the former Riverview Florist property.

The company rescinded its offer for the property in December 2017 before the CIC even could meet to consider the proposal, which would have paid $300,000 in three $100,000 installments.

The city had purchased the property for $1.2 million several years ago, annexing it from Liverpool Township into the city for the sole purpose of economic development.

A Texas-based electric car manufacturer also had proposed using the property for a factory to build electric cars.

More than a year later, CIC property committee meetings still voiced concerns about the vagueness of the plans expressed for the property. During previous negotiations, John Woomer had proposed plans for a commercial business park.