Week in Review: Real Estate News, Land Development Top the Stories

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Commercial real estate purchases topped business news for the week of April 5, including one at the center of an ongoing legal battle.

California Palms Sold for $4M at Sheriff’s Sale

The owner of the California Palms Addiction Recovery Campus is appealing the sheriff’s sale of the property to the Los Angeles-based Pender Capital Asset Based Lending Fund for $4 million. Documents from the Mahoning County Auditor show the sale closed April 2.

Sebastian Rucci, the center’s owner, contends the sheriff’s sale didn’t comply with “multiple statutory protections.” California Palms is still operating and providing long-term care to 90 clients, Rucci said in an email. The drug and alcohol rehab center employs 48, he said.

Vidale’s LBF Capital Buys 3 Properties for $1.6M

LBF Capital Group, which is led by local businessman Terrill Vidale, the week before last closed on the purchases of three local properties for $1.6 million. The properties include 8302 Southern Blvd. in Boardman, and 6378 and 6402 St. Andrews Drive in Canfield.

The Southern Boulevard property, near the intersection with McClurg Road, is nearly 21,000 square feet and sits on 3.25 acres. Tee Up Golf Centre’s driving range occupies most of the property, with the building housing Grunau Co., American Karate Studios, Mink Financial Services and The Boardman News.

Combined, the Canfield properties have 16 apartments, as well as a carport behind each building.

City Targets East Side Land for Future Development

The City of Youngstown is considering rezoning some 30 acres on the East Side to industrial green classification, which officials say will make the area more competitive in attracting new business to that section of the city.

The land under consideration consists of nearly an entire block along Albert Street, and is bordered by Republic Avenue to the north, Kimmel Street to the south, and Atkinson and Bennington Avenues to the east.

On Wednesday, City Council voted to place the measure before the city’s planning commission. The measure would extend the green industrial designation that is on the west side of Albert Street.

“It’s an attractive site with accessibility to the freeway,” said Hunter Morrison, the city’s planning consultant. “The Albert Street ramp is right there.”

Two New Lawsuits Filed Against Lordstown Motors

Lordstown Motors Corp. had two more class action lawsuits leveled against it this past week, bringing that total to four. The suits allege the electric-vehicle manufacturer perpetrated securities fraud by misleading investors over its assertions that it had secured pre-orders of its Endurance pickup truck.

The first of the two suits was filed April 2 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on behalf of investor Sulayman Zuod. According to court papers, defendants Lordstown Motors CEO Stephen Burns, President Rich Schmidt, Chief Financial Officer Julio Rodriguez and Michael Fabian, director of stamping operations, “engaged in a scheme to deceive the market and a course of conduct that artificially inflated the prices of Lordstown common stock.”

The suit also alleges that six company executives unloaded their personal stock between Oct. 22, 2020 and Feb. 4, 2021, when it stood at “artificially inflated” prices, including David Hamamoto, the CEO of DiamondPeak Holdings Corp., which merged with Lordstown Motors on Oct. 22, 2020.

The second suit this week was filed Friday, in which investor Jesse Brury claims he acquired shares of Lordstown Motors at “artificially inflated prices” between Aug. 3, 2020, and March 17, 2021.

Specifically, the lawsuit said that Lordstown Motors failed to disclose that the company’s pre-orders were non-binding and that many of the would-be customers lacked the means to purchase the vehicle.

Many of the allegations from the suits stem from a damaging report by short-seller Hindenburg Research issued March 12, which contends Lordstown Motors and some of its executives mischaracterized non-binding letters of intent as “pre-orders” for the Endurance pickup.

YBI Part of Group Awarded $703,000 to Promote Innovation Efforts

A regional partnership that includes the Youngstown Business Incubator was among the recipients of $29 million awarded Tuesday by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Through the grant, the YBI, Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (Magnet), Team NEO and JumpStart comprise Resilient NEO, which will receive funds to identify and assist high-potential startups and existing companies that are working with new and innovative technologies, said Barb Ewing, YBI’s CEO. The incubator’s efforts will focus on its expertise in additive manufacturing.

The group will target its efforts in Mahoning, Trumbull, Cuyahoga, Summit, Stark, Portage and Wayne counties over an 18-month period beginning in July.

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