Economic Development

Court OKs AutoParkit Buying Former Delphi Site

WARREN, Ohio – Once the paperwork with U.S. Bankruptcy Court is completed, Christopher Alan said he can move forward with work at the former Delphi Packard Electric property at 402 Dana St. and “start the investment that we wanted to make from the beginning,” he said.

Bankruptcy Judge Kay Woods Tuesday approved the purchase of the property by Alan, CEO of AutoParkit LLC, from Maximus III Properties LLC. Maximus, which is owned by businessman Sergio DiPaolo, is in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

“We have probably have three weeks worth of paperwork to get through with the court,” Alan said.

Alan, a Warren native, announced plans in October 2015 to establish a new headquarters and manufacturing operation for his company, a California-based manufacturer of automated parking systems and garages, in the Dana Street Northeast Delphi Packard buildings.

A prior agreement to purchase the property for $1.75 million was not finalized before the discovery of about $2 million in environmental abatement work that needed to be done, Alan said.

DiPaolo’s Maximus III Properties LLC filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy last September, and the case was converted to Chapter 7 liquidation in December.

The ruling is significant for Warren “on a number of fronts,” remarked Enzo Cantalamessa, director of service and safety for the city.

“First, it places a blighted property in the possession of a capable developer who will put the property back into beneficial reuse,” he said. “Secondly, this should be welcome news to the neighbors to the facility who have had to deal with this eyesore for the better part of 20 years. They’re able to see some light at the end of the tunnel.”

The purchase price for the property is yet to be determined, as calculations for taxes and liens are finalized, in addition to money Alan’s company has already paid, he said. He estimated the final purchase price would be “in the ballpark” of $900,000.

“Until he had control of the property, he couldn’t take the next step,”

Mike Keys, Warren’s community development director, said Tuesday. “Now we can start putting some numbers together, sit down with JobsOhio and try to get some of the cleanup money that we need.”

Last year, AutoParkit purchased the former General Electric Corp. building on Dana Northeast. The company already is manufacturing components at the site, Alan said.

As the paperwork is finalized, Alan said his team will begin moving forward with construction and renovation drawings and assembling the pieces for environmental remediation of the property. Work also will resume with Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp. for a rail line at the property, assembling the pieces for environmental remediation, cleaning up the property and “getting rid of everything we can that is not contaminated,” renovating the portion that doesn’t have any abatement issues.

Cleanup costs will depend on whether removal or encapsulation of contaminants is chosen, Keys said. A past environmental study determined “where the problems are,” he said.

The overall plan is to bring 1,000 jobs to the site in a 10-year timeframe, Alan said. He would like to use at least a portion of the property for basic assembly, storage and distribution, and testing by the end of 2019, Alan said.

Construction on the test facility should begin by the end of the year and take about five months, he reported.

“That’s a significant milestone for us because we have to do all of our testing offsite, so the more stuff that we can bring in house, the more money that can be spent on business development, new hires, engineering and the continued growth of the company,” he said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.