East Liverpool CIC Paves Way for Two New Businesses

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — The city’s Community Improvement Corp. paved the way this week for startup of two new businesses in the Little Building downtown, approving a $40,000 loan to assist with start-up costs.

The CIC’s property committee had met last week to consider the loan request by Shaun DaVill, who proposed starting a coffee shop and an ice cream shop in storefronts that once housed Curtis Cigar and TV Facts. DaVill owns similar operations in Salem and Canfield, where liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the ice cream and shakes in an unusual process and is also infused in the coffee, which has proven popular with customers.

The loan request was recommended and forwarded to the full board, which met this week and voted unanimously in favor of granting DaVill the $40,000 over five years at 3 percent interest.

Bill Cowan, CIC executive director, told the board DaVill has provided him a list of items to be used as collateral which he said are “well over” the value of the loan.

Renovations have begun inside the former Curtis Cigars and TV Facts building in downtown East Liverpool.

DaVill intends to use the loan to purchase equipment for the two shops as well as signage and plumbing. He advised the property committee last week that about six will be employed at Quench by DaVill, the coffee shop, and The Loft, the ice cream shop. His company also employs people with special needs as well as raises funds and awareness for various charities, he noted.

DaVill said he hopes to have the two shops open for business by Halloween.

While no action was taken during the full board meeting on a $90,000 loan request from Rotating Equipment Services owner Christopher Morey, President Patrick Scafide indicated he and Morey have been finalizing some financial paperwork so the request can be brought back before the board in the near future.

The committee had not recommended the loan to the board, with members indicating they needed more information.

Member Ray Perorazio, also a 1st Ward city councilman, urged Scafide to expedite the RES loan request, saying Morey is “a very solid citizen,” saying.

“We need those kinds of people in town. I don’t want to lose (his business),” Perorazio said.

Also with economic development in mind, the board voted unanimously to accept the transfer of the former East Junior High School on Maryland Avenue to CIC ownership. The plan for the now-vacant school building is for Tetra Tech to use Brownfield funding to demolish it after environmental testing for asbestos and other contaminants.

Scafide said Tetra Tech was initially planning to just test for asbestos inside the structure until it learned the Heritage Thermal Services hazardous waste incinerator is located nearby, prompting additional testing. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has approved the plan, which is now in the hands of the federal EPA, according to Scafide.

Once the building is demolished, the CIC will offer the six-acre parcel for development.

Another step toward marketing a landmark building in the downtown was also taken by the board when it approved a $5,650 contract with Veterans Energy Group, owned by Kevin Kerr, to clean out the historic Thompson Building on Devon’s Diamond. The building was transferred to the CIC through the Land Bank program some time ago and is earmarked for development but first needs decades of left-behind debris cleaned out.

Part of the contract will be spent building a new staircase to reach the third floor due to the deteriorated condition of the existing stairs. That will allow Kerr’s company to clear the third floor, which had not originally been in the plan, he said. Kerr expects the work to take a couple of weeks.

Board member and architect Scott Shepherd “highly encouraged” the cleanup work, after which a plan can be put together for developing the building, which he called “rough but workable.”

A memorandum of understanding was approved between the CIC and county Land Bank Committee in the continuing quest to remove the blight of abandoned, dilapidated homes in the city. With the MOU in place, the Land Bank will tackle the administrative work involved with handling these types of properties, Mayor Greg Bricker told the board, saying the city had been trying to re-invent the wheel when there was no need since the Land Bank already has a plan in place.

“We can work hand-in-hand with them. They’re more than willing to team up with us,” Bricker said.

The city appears to have more houses ripe for this type of program than other communities in the county, according to Bricker, who said a list of 200 potential homes was forwarded that day to the Land Bank.

About 160 houses have already been demolished in the city through the Land Bank program. And while demolition is a large part of the program, Bricker said the true goal is to rehab houses and “get people back in here.”

To that end, the board voted to sell one of the properties it had previously acquired as a potential demo to Kerr for $1,200. He plans to renovate the house on Chester Avenue and give it to one of his employees as an owner-occupied home.

Another property on Ceramic Street will be sold to Rick Feezle for $792.30, the amount the CIC has invested in the property. Feezle plans to level the property and use it for parking for a home he owns across the street.

Also approved was a $50,000 contribution to the city as matching funds for demolition of such properties. “If we can get rid of the blight, it will help the city in numerous ways,” Bricker said.

He said there is a “big pot of money at the state level we can apply for,” as long as matching funds are available.

Pictured at top: Work has begun on renovating the Little Building in East Liverpool, including the former Curtis Cigar shop, which will be transformed into one of two new shops by businessman Shaun DaVill.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.