Warren Developer Gets OK to Buy Former Motor Lodge in East Liverpool

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — By unanimous vote, the East Liverpool Community Improvement Corp. Tuesday approved the sale of the former East Liverpool Motor Lodge at 2340 Dresden Ave. to a Warren developer with ties to the community.

With member Tom Clark absent, the board acted upon a recommendation forwarded by its property committee, which met just before the full board Tuesday. Members approved an offer by Steven Lewis, president of MVC Advisors LLC, to purchase the property for $150,000.

A city native, Lewis was CEO of the former First Place Bank. In his Jan. 18 letter of intent to Mayor Greg Bricker, Lewis said he plans to convert the former motel into a “mixed use facility” he is currently calling River Town Center.

During Tuesday’s meeting, city Planning Director Bill Cowan made the motion to accept the offer, with President Pat Scafide offering a second to the motion. Board member Al Fricano asked about the appraised value of the property, which once encompassed a motel, banquet facilities, bar, health club, skylight dining room and indoor swimming pool.

Scafide said the CIC had not seen the appraisal obtained by the former owner, but said he believed it to be $1.75 million.

“It has been sitting there three years (since the appraisal),” Cowan added.

A recent police report noted vandals had entered the building and removed copper plumbing. Scafide pointed out the former owner had the walls and ceilings removed down to the plumbing and wiring.

“We’ve shown this building continuous times. It would behoove us to take the $150,000 and run,” Scafide said.

The CIC “needs to do something or it will be a millstone around our neck,” Fricano agreed.

Scafide emphasized the proceeds from gained from the sale will be used for other CIC projects. Board member and city Councilman Tom Beagle questioned if Lewis has done other projects, but Cowan said he did not know of any specific ones.

Contacted after the meeting, Lewis reiterated a previously expressed sentiment that it is “extremely premature” to discuss plans for the property or a time frame when it might be completed.

“I still have a period of time to do due diligence,” Lewis said. “I still have more homework to do and more work to do to make sure this project will work. This is a big project and I have to make sure it is going to make a buck.”

Cowan reported Wednesday the signed letter of intent has been returned to Lewis to allow for the due diligence of which he spoke.

According to the terms of the letter of intent, under due diligence, the buyer may elect to have a third party perform an inspection of the property within 45 days of execution of the purchase agreement and “reserves the right to transfer its rights…to an entity to be formed later which may represent the investor group which will ultimately assume ownership of the property.”

Also paving the way for economic development, the board approved a committee recommendation to accept ownership of property at 606 Dresden Ave., most well known as the location of the former 606 Bar but vacant for some time.

Described as “dilapidated” by Scafide, the three-story brick edifice was built in 1900 and was owned by Richard L. Medcalf of Wintersville, who offered it to the CIC at no cost. There are no liens, taxes or mortgages pending against the property, according to documents provided by Cowan.

“It will be nice to see it gone,” Scafide said of the imposing building.

Member Lisa Blasdel mentioned concerns voiced previously about environmental issues with the building and whether those will fall upon the CIC to remedy. It was explained that action taken later in the meeting would launch an agreement between the CIC and the county Land Reutilization Corp. (Land Bank) granting authority for the land bank to access this and other properties to assess them for demolition, including environmental assessments.

The same access agreement was approved for property at 500 Maryland St., the former East Junior High School building, where an environmental analysis has been conducted by Tetra Tech.

“We need to get this passed and [the building] demolished,” Scafide said. “It should be done by spring. When done, we will have six acres prime for development in East End.”

An abandoned home at 433 Prospect St. also was included in the same agreement with the Land Bank, with Scafide saying the home has been uninhabited except for an occasional squatter since 1999.

With elimination of blight in mind, the board approved the sale of empty lots at 744 Sophia St. and 847 Baxter St. at $1,100 each to interested buyers. The cost of having demolished dilapidated houses on each property was considerably more, at $4,500 and $4,700, respectively, but members agreed it was unlikely the lots would be of interest to anyone else except the adjoining property owners. Further, zoning restrictions prohibit them from being rebuilt upon. Proceeds from the sales will be returned to the demolition fund for future demolitions.

New board member Herman Potts was voted in by the board along with returning members. Officers re-elected were Cowan, executive director; Scafide, president; Craig Kidd, vice president; Blasdel, treasurer; and Scott Shepherd, secretary.

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