By Josh stipanovich
Austintown Board of Education members discussed details Wednesday of the $2.5 million sale of the former middle school property on Mahoning Avenue.
The property — sold last week to LRC Development Co. LLC — has been up for public auction twice since the building’s 2007 vacancy but had failed to garner much attention from buyers.
Two potential buyers showed up for the September 2010 public auction but did not bid.
Two parties showed interest in buying the property in fall 2012, and after months of negotiations, the school board voted 5-0 to enter into the sales agreement with LRC Development.
The district’s initial $2 million starting point for the property was exceeded by $500,000.
The site is surrounded by commercial development.
Mal Culp, the district’s supervisor of operations and facilities, said he is “very pleased, very pleased” with the offer.
The $2.5 million earned from the sale can be used only for capital improvements, and for items the district could use for more than five years.
Austintown Superintendent Vincent Colaluca said those items include more computers, maintenance trucks, needs for athletics and academic upgrades.
While the sale has been finalized, it is pending for 180 days. During this time, LRC will be acquiring the necessary permits for zoning and inspections and to contract a resident to the property.
Colaluca said he’s confident LRC will be able to do so.
“Something may fall through there. We’re confident that it won’t,” Colaluca said. “That’s why the word pending is being used.”
The money will be held in an escrow account until the end of the 180 due diligence period, Culp said.
“At the end of the 180 days, the remainder of the funds will be transferred to us.”
Several unsuccessful attempts were made to contact a representative of LRC Development.
Culp said the property has “a possible retail use” and that he believes LRC plans to demolish the building. If and when the retail shops are developed, Culp said that means jobs.
“I know it’s a local interest that is being developed here, so I would imagine that it would be the opportunity for more employment in the area,” Culp said.
“We’ll need people to run their retail.”
But before the building could be demolished, asbestos will have to be removed, Culp said. He added that LRC is aware of the condition of the building. Removal would be LRC’s responsibility, he said.
In 2011, the district received several bids for an asbestos abatement, and Culp said that feedback will be given to LRC Development to help it from having to pay for another estimate.
“We’re selling [the property] as is, everything on the property,” Culp said.
And after nearly six years of negotiations and investments made, Colaluca said he’s relieved the property has been sold.
“When you look at it as a community, it’s kind of turned into an eye sore in Austintown,” Colaluca said. “It will be a great thing when the company, eventually comes in, and tears down the building and puts a viable company or retail store here.”