EGCC Forced to Close Floors of Downtown Parking Deck
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Eastern Gateway Community College has informed patrons of its downtown parking deck that it will shut down four of its floors beginning today.
A notice from Arthur Daly, EGCC’s senior executive vice president, states that ongoing litigation with the property’s former owner, USA Parking Systems of Cleveland, has impeded efforts to obtain funding for needed repairs at the deck.
According to the letter, the Champion Street entrance and exit that lead to floors one through four will be closed off until the college is able to secure funding to make improvements to the garage ramps. Patrons of the deck are now able to park at the Covelli Centre’s event parking lot, with the exception of corporate spaces.
Those who park in the garage basement are not affected by the closure.
“Due to decades of neglect, we know major structural improvements are needed but we need additional funding to do so, which brings us to today,” Daly’s notice said.
“After many financial meetings with funders, EGCC has been unable to secure the financing needed to make these improvements due to continued litigation with the previous owners, USA Parking,” the letter said.
Attempts to reach EGCC for comment were unsuccessful.
Eastern Gateway has been locked in convoluted litigation with USA Parking since 2020. That year, USA Parking filed a complaint in federal court against HEP-EGCC Ohio, an entity that held title to the parking garage. It also named Store Master Funding VI LLC and EGCC as defendants.
“We are working tirelessly to end those litigations and appeals,” Daly said in his letter. “This is absolutely not what we wanted for the deck and although this is a bump in the road, EGCC will ensure those who utilize the deck have a clean and safe environment to park in,” the notice said.
Daly emphasized that security would be on hand to monitor the lot and assist patrons walking to their vehicles if requested.
“Our service does not stop with the temporary change,” the notice said. “I thank you all for your understanding and hope to get these items resolved very soon.”
The letter said there is no timeline on when repairs could begin or when the deck could reopen because of the litigation.
According to court papers, USA Parking sold the garage to HEP in 2014 with the condition that it sign a 20-year management contract where it would pay USA $150,000 a year for the use of 600 parking spaces and a management fee of $30,000 per year. However, HEP sold the deck to Store Master Funding VI, which then sold the deck to Eastern Gateway in April 2020.
Eastern Gateway then notified USA that it would terminate the management contract as of Aug. 31, 2021.
USA Parking sued HEP, Store Master Funding and Eastern Gateway for breach of contract. Two years ago, Judge Benita Pearson ruled that HEP pay USA Parking $5.3 million for breach of contract.
A subsequent amended complaint filed by USA Parking in September 2021 sought to reclaim title to the deck plus another $8 million in damages, naming HEP, Eastern Gateway, and Store Master as defendants.
In February 2022, Judge Pearson granted Eastern Gateway’s, Store Master’s and Huntington Bank’s motions to dismiss the amended complaint, court records show. She denied HEP’s motion to dismiss, but it is unclear whether HEP has any assets.
USA Parking has appealed the ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A second complaint, filed by USA Parking in November 2022 in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, has named EGCC as the sole defendant, according to court records.
That complaint seeks $75,000 from EGCC for the replacement costs of ticket and revenue processing equipment that USA Parking installed in the garage, court papers say. The company is also seeking damages of $41,500 it says it’s owed for management services between Aug. 1 and Nov. 23, 2020, documents say.
The court ruled in favor of EGCC’s motion to dismiss the complaint on May 24 of this year.
USA Parking appealed to the Seventh Appellate District court. Three weeks ago, the appeals court upheld the order to dismiss the case, citing the appeal was filed three days late.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.