AUSTINTOWN Board to approve sale of middle school building
The school district's facilities director said there's no question about which was the better offer.
By JEANNE STARMACK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- The township school board is meeting Wednesday to approve the sale of the Austintown Middle School on Mahoning Avenue.
The meeting is set to consider an offer a developer made on the property after an auction Monday.
Schools superintendent Douglas Heuer said the offer is for $2.6 million, made by local developers Ben Post and Martin Solomon.
There were no bidders at the auction, which required a $2.2 million minimum bid on the school. But after a mandated two-minute bidding period closed and the auction was over, Post and a representative for CDC Development of Dallas, Texas, expressed an interest in the property.
Stan Watson, the school district's director of facilities, said that because the auction had ended, the district could negotiate a sale with prospective buyers.
The auction took place at 8:30 a.m. By midafternoon Monday, Watson confirmed the two developers had made offers.
But late Monday afternoon, Hal Reisenfeld, a Cleveland real-estate broker representing the Dallas developer, said they were told that even though their offer was higher, Watson was preparing to recommend the other offer to the board.
Reisenfeld said CDC wanted to know whether Post and Solomon had deposited a 10 percent, nonrefundable payment into the school district's bank account that would have made the Post and Solomon offer better. He said the payment would mean that Post was willing to buy the building "as is."
CDC, he said, had an offer that was $400,000 higher, but CDC is concerned about asbestos in the building and a problem with the title. CDC did not offer the 10 percent hard money because of those concerns.
And Watson said that was the reason he chose to recommend Post's offer.
Watson said CDC's offer had "all kinds of contingencies" and the company could have renegotiated the $3 million offer to a lower one.
Post's "as is" offer is firm, he said. "There's no question it's a better offer."
Watson said Post did turn over a check for the 10 percent deposit, and the district's treasurer has that check.
Post and Solomon own the Austintown Plaza and the land on Mahoning Avenue where a Home Depot store is being built. Post said he isn't ready to comment on specific plans for the school property, and may not be for some time.
"We bought the land that the Home Depot is being built on 20 years ago," he said.
Post said he and his partner also own Central Park West Apartments on Idaho Road.
"We are heavily invested in Austintown," he said.
Reisenfeld said CDC already had a tenant in mind for the property -- the type of business located there would have been retail.
He said he doesn't know whether CDC will offer the hard money along with their higher offer to get back in the running for the property.
The school property includes 15 acres and is zoned for businesses only.
Watson said that once the building is sold, the closing on it will not be until August 2007.
The district's middle school pupils will move in 2007 to a new school that is being built on Raccoon Road.