By Ed Runyan
The way that ownership of three former Delphi Packard Electric buildings changed this week suggests the city’s problems with the vacant structures are far from over, Mayor Michael O’Brien said.
“Hopefully, I’m wrong, but it’s possible that our problems have just begun,” the mayor said Friday of Delphi’s sale of the facilities on Dana and Griswold streets to DiPaolo Industrial Developers LLC.
First, the city was unaware of the Wednesday sale until a passer-by noticed people inside Plant 8 on Griswold Street, called police, and police investigated.
Sergio DiPaolo, president of the company, and other workers were using lifts and other equipment and removing salvageable items from the building. DiPaolo informed city officials he was the new owner, O’Brien said.
After some checking, O’Brien and city building official Chris Taneyhill learned from a Delphi spokesperson that DiPaolo had, in fact, bought the buildings that day. The sale price was not disclosed, O’Brien said, and it’s not yet reflected on the Trumbull County Auditor’s website.
“It is a bad way to notify a government that a building is sold,” O’Brien said, explaining that DiPaolo and his workers could have been arrested or injured at the site because the police, fire and building departments were never notified.
Second, DiPaolo never sought a demolition permit from Taneyhill before starting his demolition, so Taneyhill issued a stop-work order, posted the orders on the buildings and demanded that DiPaolo leave the site until the necessary permits had been secured.
DiPaolo supplied Taneyhill with a demolition plan on Thursday, but that isn’t enough to allow demolition to resume, Taneyhill said.
The plan says DiPaolo will be removing structural steel, trusses and bracing and shipping it to a local steel mill, leaving brick walls, intact “for security reasons” and leaving concrete floors and foundations “in tact [sic] for new future Development of new Structures.”
Taneyhill said DiPaolo told him he doesn’t plan to demolish Plant 8 or the former administration building.
The city issued demolition orders to Delphi Dec. 29, requiring that the entire 720,000 square feet of former factory and administrative space be torn down.
Taneyhill said the demolition was necessary because Delphi had not provided adequate security there, leading to vandalism, copper theft and the potential that the buildings could catch fire.
DPH Holdings Corp. did sell the buildings, a Delphi spokesperson confirmed Friday, saying the information comes from John Brooks, president of DPH Holdings, whose offices are in the Delphi World Headquarters building in Troy, Mich.
DiPaolo gave the city a personal address of Isabelle Drive in Girard and a business address of 1536 First Street, Newton Falls.
That is also the address of a company called Direct International, which once hired DiPaolo to carry out a demolition project in 2007, according to court documents.
Then-Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray filed a complaint against DiPaolo, whose company was using the name Source One Contractors and Developers, Colonial Drive, Youngstown, and Ohio One Contractors and Developers LLC of Andrews Avenue, Youngstown, for failing to carry out two demolitions properly in 2005 and 2007.
The complaint, filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in September 2010, said DiPaolo failed to seek a permit from the Mahoning-Trumbull Air Pollution Control Agency before carrying out demolition of Boardman Supply Co. on Southern Boulevard in Boardman in 2005.
DiPaolo and others violated Ohio law by failing to secure the permit and properly handle the asbestos-containing material in the building, the lawsuit said.
DiPaolo also failed to secure the proper permit before conducting demolition at the Direct International site in Newton Falls, the suit said. The suit seeks a civil penalty of $25,000 per day for each day of each violation.