DOWNTOWN YOUNGSTOWN Squire to appeal legal opinion on Wick Building
The matter will go to a judge for a ruling.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The sale of the Wick Building remains in limbo pending judicial review of a legal opinion upholding the city's request to dismiss a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by Atty. Percy Squire of Columbus, who wants to buy the building.
Magistrate Eugene Fehr of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court agreed with the city's position that Squire's lawsuit should be dismissed because no binding contract exists between Squire and the city to buy the building, which Youngstown owns and has been trying to sell since the mid-1990s.
Squire, a Youngstown native, will appeal the magistrate's decision to Judge James C. Evans of common pleas court.
"We are entitled to a ruling by a judge," Squire said Wednesday. "Case law is clear that, under certain circumstances, a municipality, through its actions, can enter into an implied contract."
Squire contends the city, through its law and finance departments, negotiated a written agreement with his company, Percy Squire Co. LLC. 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 back $90,000 to cover back rent and other expenses related to the building.
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, located on West Federal Street, there exists no "fully executed agreement between Squire and the city for the sale of the Wick Building."
City council did authorize the board of control -- the mayor, law director and finance director -- to negotiate a contract with all interested parties to buy the building.
The board, however, never entered into a contract with Squire; therefore, Squire has no contractual rights to buy the building until the board approves the agreement, the city's law department argued.
The magistrate agreed with the city's position.
Squire said, however, in his memorandum in opposition to the city's motion to dismiss his suit that "there was nothing in the statements, actions or behavior of the three members of the board of control to indicate anything less than a deal."
Squire was upset that he didn't have a chance to make that argument in person before Fehr ruled.
Not in time
Squire made the three-hour trip to Youngstown because an oral hearing on the matter was scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday. He learned when he got to the courthouse that Fehr already had made his decision.
Squire said that showed "a lack of civility" that no one called him and he also lost his due process right to argue his case.
He said he's also perplexed why the city is giving him a hard time about buying the property.
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.
He said he has a legitimate claim on the building, and until a court makes a ruling on that claim, the city cannot enter into any agreement with another potential buyer.