Downtown Liverpool Building Added to Thompson Project

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – Members of the city’s Community Improvement Corporation believe a decision made Thursday to purchase a Market Street building could benefit an on-going renovation project in Devon’s Diamond.

The CIC’s property committee voted unanimously to recommend purchase of the former Paul Arrow’s Pants Shop, 520 Market St., during a committee meeting before a meeting of the full board. The retail shop is adjacent to the Thompson Building, which is the focus of an extensive renovation project. 

Approved by the board was a $35,000 purchase price for the two-story building, last operated as a clothing store in the early 2000s by the late Paul Braslawsce, and two vacant lots on St. Clair Avenue near Lena’s Lounge, also owned by the Braslawsce family. The two vacant lots are not part of the Thompson Building project but were offered as part of the deal, according to CIC President Patrick Scafide.

Scafide said the Braslawsces were approached two months ago about purchasing the property due to its proximity to the Thompson project. That project entails renovating the 1892 building for use as retail space in the storefront, office space on the second floor and residential lofts on the upper floor.

“I don’t think $35,000 is a lot to ask,” Scafide told the committee, adding the CIC just sold the former East Liverpool Motor Lodge, so the money for the purchase is available. Executive Director Bill Cowan agreed about the price, “knowing what’s happening immediately next door,” referring to the Thompson Building project.

Saying it is “a great building to get,” member Lisa Blasdel asked about a wall in the retail building, which is reportedly bowed, and whether the cost to repair it would be high. Committee member and architect Scott Shepherd said although they are aware of some structural issues, the building still has to be assessed. 

If the building has to be demolished, Shepherd said, the cost would be absorbed in funding for the Thompson Building project. “I don’t see it as a problem,” Shepherd said. 

At one time, the section of building between the Thompson Building and the retail shop had two additional stories that were removed following a fire in the 1950s that damaged many downtown buildings, according to Shepherd, who said it originally served as The Diamond Hotel.

The entire Market Street block is under development, Shepherd noted. He said a decision to purchase the building would mean there is no “gap” between those projects. Currently, the building next to the former pants shop is being renovated as a restaurant.

“We need it,” member Tom Clark agreed in voting for the recommendation. Mayor Greg Bricker, also a member of the full CIC board, reminded members that a $1 million application has been submitted for a Jobs Ohio grant toward the estimated $2.1 million cost of the Thompson Building project. Bricker said representatives of Jobs Ohio would be in the county today, and meet with applicants.

Being able to tell them the CIC is purchasing the building next to the Thompson Building as part of the project “will be a good thing to share with them” and will “definitely help our application,” Bricker advised members.

No outstanding taxes or liens exist on the properties, the board was advised by Cowan. 

All property committee members were present and voted in favor of the recommendation to purchase the building. 

With board of trustee members Tom Beagle, Al Fricano, Herman Potts, Robert Nizer, Craig Kidd, Connie Javens and Fred Emmerling absent, the remaining 10 members voted in favor of the purchase.

Scafide was authorized to sign all documents regarding the purchase.

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