3 Offers for East Liverpool Motor Lodge Site; Lewis No Longer Interested

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – Three offers have been received for the former East Liverpool Motor Lodge, now owned by the Community Improvement Corporation and sitting vacant since it closed in 2014. 

The CIC Property Committee met Wednesday evening and learned about the offers from CIC President Patrick Scafide, including one received just that day.

Scafide recommended tabling the offers until more information is forthcoming, and the committee agreed, which was also approved by the full board at a meeting which followed.

Among the three offers was one dated July 20 from city Service-Safety Director David Dawson and emailed the day of the meeting to the board. 

Dawson offered to purchase the property for the amount the CIC has invested in it, estimated to be about $20,000, according to Executive Director Bill Cowan.

In January, the CIC approved a letter of intent to sell the property for $150,000 to Warren developer Steven Lewis who indicated it would be earmarked for “mixed use.”

However, Cowan said after the meeting that he had been advised by Mayor Greg Bricker that Lewis has withdrawn his offer, although Cowan said he was not told why.

The motel complex was built in 1982 by the Alsan Corporation on nine acres outside city limits; it was annexed into the city.

In his proposal, Dawson listed the city as the applicant, indicating the city building and zoning departments have been made aware of the plans. 

Dawson proposes to use the former motel as a site for the so-called car barn to replace the facility now located in the city’s East End that houses the street and refuse/recycling departments. “The larger property will supply an area for the departments’ equipment (most to be housed inside), along with space that could accommodate future storage and housing of city-owned equipment,” he stated.

He noted that, as CIC members are aware, the existing car barn is structurally unsound and has been in deplorable condition for decades. By releasing the former motel site to the city, the CIC would be providing a structurally sound building to present and future city employees for decades. 

Among a few hand-written notes on the application were some expenses incurred by the CIC during its ownership of the property, which was transferred in 2020 to the non-profit agency by the former owner at no cost.

In addition to a tax bill of $8,306, the CIC has paid local contractor Kevin Kerr slightly less than $4,000 for various security and upkeep measures at the property since 2020, according to the notes.

Asked after the meeting who authorized Dawson to make the offer, Cowan could not answer. A call was made to Dawson Thursday, and his administrative assistant said he had no comment at this time.

City Auditor Marilyn Bosco said Thursday, “It’s news to me,” when asked if she was aware the offer was being made to purchase the property. 

City Councilman Fred Rayl, who serves as finance chairman, was asked if council has discussed the purchase and said nothing has come through his committee in regard to the matter. He said if the proposal is accepted by the CIC, the purchase would have to come through council.

Other offers for the property included one from Wellsville resident Patrick King, owner of First Class Towing, who submitted an agreement of sale offering $20,000.

King said after the meeting his initial plans call for putting several businesses in the former motel, which boasted a spa, pool, restaurant and skylight room. 

The final offer came July 8 from Cunningham Commercial Properties LLC, owned by Stan Cunningham, who is not offering to pay for the property but just have the property given to him and pay closing costs.

In his written proposal, Cunningham said he is not sure of plans for the building in its entirety but is initially planning to have a few shops or a restaurant in the front to keep it secure while construction takes place on the remainder of the building.

At one time, the property had been appraised at $1.75 million. As Cowan pointed out, it had been sitting empty for three years. Vandals have entered the structure and removed copper plumbing, according to police reports. 

In other matters before the CIC, Scafide was authorized to sign documents seeking historic tax credits to be used toward renovation of the Thompson Block in downtown.

Member Scott Shepherd said these credits could be “pretty significant,” as much as $600,000 on the estimated $1.8 million project cost and said the same credits were used in the New Castle School of Trade project.

Pictured at top: East Liverpool Motor Lodge

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.