COURT Lawyer wants hold on back rent collection
Atty. Percy Squire says the city agreed to sell him the Wick Building.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A Columbus lawyer has asked a judge to issue a temporary restraining order stopping the city from attempting to collect back rent and other arrearages he owes pending the outcome of another lawsuit.
Atty. Percy Squire, through his lawyer Robert T. Glickman of Cleveland, has asked Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to intervene. No hearing date has been set.
Squire, a Youngstown native, claims the city should not try to collect from his company, PSC LLC, until Squires' breach-of-contract suit against the city is resolved.
He claims the city agreed to sell him the Wick Building on West Federal Street. The city argues there is no contract with Squire, and he has no legal remedy to stand upon. The city wants Squire's suit dismissed.
A common pleas court magistrate agreed with the city's position, and Squire has challenged that decision. Squire's challenge of the magistrate's ruling suit also is pending before Judge Evans, and no hearing date has been set.
Squire's suit says he received a letter Jan. 24 from Atty. Frederic Kannensohn, who the city contracts with to collect unpaid debt, saying Squire had until Jan. 31 to pay his arrearages, which are in excess of $100,000. The money includes back rent and other expenses related to the building.
The suit says Kannensohn spoke with Squire on Feb. 2 and told him that he would arrive at the Wick Building on Feb. 4 and shut down PSC's business enterprises if full payment was not made.
PSC is affiliated with Esq. Communications Inc. and Stop 26-Riverbend Inc., which operates radio stations WGFT, WRBP and WASN, which have broadcast studios in the building.
Those stations continue operating.
Squire said he wants Judge Evans to stop the city from making any attempts to collect judgments against him for payment until the judge decides the merits of the case.
Squire contends the city, through its law and finance departments, negotiated a written agreement with his company. Acting upon the city officials' reasonable assurances the deal had been concluded, PSC performed actions required on its part to close the sale on the building.
Included in those actions was Squire's agreement to pay $1,000 in earnest money, which he did. He proposed to pay $100,000 for the building and make more than $400,000 in renovations.
He also intended to pay the $100,000 to cover the arrearages.
Squire contends the city cannot now say it is no longer bound by the agreement.
The city argued in its brief to dismiss that even though the city did enter into negotiations with Squire to buy the building, there exists no "fully executed agreement between Squire and the city for the sale of the Wick Building."
City Law Director Iris Torres Guglucello said the city believes that since it has no binding agreement with Squire's company, it can and should go after its money.
She said Squire has not shown he is capable of paying the arrearage, and that raises some doubt whether he will be able to buy the Wick Building.
The city has received other offers to buy the real estate, which Youngstown has been trying to sell since the mid-1990s.