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EL CIC tables action regarding former Riverview Florist property

Liverpool Township patrolman Beau Tatgenhorst executes a traffic stop across the street from the former Riverview Florist property. On Thursday, East Liverpool’s Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) met to discuss terminating its operating agreement with the Capital Corportium LLC due to lack of progress on the project. (Photo by Stephanie Ujhelyi)

EAST LIVERPOOL — In the past year since signing on the dotted line to see the former Riverview Florist property developed, city officials have heard little but crickets.

The East Liverpool Community Improvement Corporation met Thursday to consider a variety of action, including termination of the operating agreement that created the Riverview Business Park LLC, which had been signed in late February 2020 before the pandemic hit.

The manager of Capital Corporatum LLC, John R. Woomer was not in attendance but had sent an email to Al Fricano, who distributed the document before the meeting.

The one-year operating agreement began a partnership that would allow a business park at the 80-acre Liverpool Township property near Parkway and Anderson Boulevard.

The agreement had made the CIC the first lien holder on the mortgage and allows them units of ownership in the project worth $560,000, which was the property’s appraised value.

In his April 13 email, Woomer writes, “As you know, we have been in a lockdown mode caused by the pandemic for most of a full year since we signed the operating agreement with the CIC. Because of this, most companies were not willing to talk about investing capital to expand their business operations until the economy started to open up. Now that we are at that moment in time of recovering from the pandemic, we have had several conversations with those companies interested on expanding their operations to Riverview.”

Woomer goes on to detail how two publicly traded companies both with distribution centers are interested in 25 acres of land, one light industrial private company wants 30 acres, a medical production company wants eight acres and two service-oriented oil and gas businesses five acres.

The main building facing Parkway will be renovated, housing one retail business and a proposed restaurant/brewery, in all generating up to 815 jobs.

Chairman Pat Scafide questioned the timing of this email, which “shows up all sudden” with all these promises, after termination of this operating agreement discussion is brought up.

Other CIC members noted that the email still lacks any real commitment or details from Woomer.

Fricano pointed out that the city and CIC also has been “derelict” in its position, not ever transferring the property as officials agreed or made zoning changes as needed. He also questions the CIC’s failure to communicate that they need more details.

Scafide disagreed, “We came forward with what we are supposed to be doing in the agreement. This email comes (all of a sudden), and I’m not sure that we have had time to digest it.”

Mayor Greg Bricker, who also is a board member, admitted that he is bothered by the lack of communication from them: “It sounds great and promising, but where has this been for the last year?”

Lisa Blasdel from the Southern Columbiana County Regional Chamber of Commerce, who is also a member, agreed regarding the Woomer group’s lack of communication. “A lot of time has passed with nothing happening.” Referring back to the email, where Woomer wrote that after the property has been rezoned, Capital Corporatum LLC will move to close on Riverview in its entirety, taking 100 percent of the CIC’s position, she said she isn’t sure that she is comfortable with that.

CIC members did agree to table to agreement’s termination and go back to Woomer, asking for more specifics including a timetable.

In other action, the CIC agreed to proceed with an appraisal on the city-owned car barn for $1,800 and allotted another $2,500 for the purchase of a commercial lot on Third Street.

Members also approved a marketing and sales proposal for the East Liverpool Motor Lodge from Venture, although Scafide said he was a little lukewarm about the initial proposal. Fricano abstained from the vote due to a conflict of interest.

After a brief update from Mayor Bricker on the Potters’ Progress housing program, the CIC agreed to sell 800 Avondale to the Venture group, which would mean a healthy profit. Venture wants to flip the residential property.

The board also agreed to give 1711 St. Clair to Kevin Kerr from Veterans Energy Group in exchange for some demolition work at its other properties.

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