Landlord for EGCC owes most in delinquent taxes
YOUNGSTOWN — The Arizona company that leases space to Eastern Gateway Community College owes $75,138.32 in delinquent taxes — the most of any property owner in Youngstown — while the developer of the Chill Can plant owes taxes on 72 parcels — the largest number of delinquent properties in the city.
The Vindicator last week published the list of delinquent property owners compiled by the Mahoning County Auditor’s Office. The auditor is required by law to have the list published annually.
Store Master Funding VI LLC of Scottsdale, Ariz., which serves as Eastern Gateway’s landlord at 101 E. Federal St. — the college’s main downtown campus as well as a parking deck — owes $75,138.32 in back taxes.
Attempts to obtain comment from Reesa Fern, an official with Store Capital, the company’s parent company, were unsuccessful.
The auditor’s office said the annual tax bill on that property is $140,138.32 and it was due Aug. 9.
Since then, according to the auditor’s office, Store Master paid $12,500 on Aug. 21, $7,500 on Sept. 10, $10,000 on Oct. 18, and two payments on Oct. 21: $15,000 and $20,000. No additional payments on the delinquent tax bill have been made since.
MJ Joseph Development Co. — the property arm of the Joseph Company International, the Irvine, Calif., company developing the Chill Can plant on the city’s East Side — owes only $639.09 in delinquent taxes. But it’s on 72 parcels, primarily on North Lane Avenue and Fruit Street, where the facility is being built.
Mitchell Joseph, the company’s CEO, said: “The taxes have been sent to different places as have gas bills. We finally got it handled. I did not want to ignore this. We put a lot of money into the project. We’ve got a tax bill that probably went to Italy and back. We said, ‘We better get this straightened out,’ and we are doing that.”
It’s been more than three years since Joseph, a Youngstown native, announced plans to develop a $20 million manufacturing, distribution and research facility for self-chilling beverage cans, and to create about 240 jobs.
The city awarded the company a $1.5 million grant, using water and wastewater funds, as well as a tax abatement in 2017 for the project.
There are two 35,000-square-foot buildings at the site with footers in place for a third 35,000-square-foot building that will be constructed in March, Joseph said. Also, new fencing and lighting were installed.
Joseph had previously said the facility would open earlier this year.
“These things take time,” he said. “We’re coming to Youngstown. We’ll definitely open in the spring. We have two feet of resumes. We’re going to open up research and distribution first.”
The company hired a small security staff for the location.
“When you deal with iconic beverage companies, it takes a long time,” Joseph said. “You have to be patient. You can’t pressure them. It doesn’t happen that easy. We’re getting there. It’s not like it’s a California company coming to Youngstown and then leaving. I’m from Youngstown. I’m not leaving.”
His family once owned the Star Bottling Co. where the Chill Can plant is being built.
Also, the company announced in October 2018 it had signed a contract with AB InBev, the parent company of Anheuser-Busch, which will begin testing the Chill Can product in Brazil in three to four weeks, Joseph said.
While building the structures on the East Side, he said, about 1,400 tires were found on the property as well as “miles of bad wiring and plumbing we ripped up.”
A couple of notable names on the delinquent tax list have since paid them.
That includes Maurice Clarett, the former Ohio State football standout and founder of the Red Zone — a drug and alcohol outpatient program; and Youngstown First National Holdings LLC of New York City, which sold the First National Bank building at 1 W. Federal St. — the tallest structure in the city– on Nov. 21 for $1,140,000.
The auditor’s listing had Youngstown First National owing $19,822.77 in delinquent taxes.
But the company paid the back taxes. The auditor’s office reported the tax payment was recorded Nov. 22, but was likely paid the day before when the sale was finalized.
David Rizzuto, director of operations and finance for Pan Brothers Associates — which operates First National Holdings LLC — said the taxes were delinquent because a prior buyer for the building pulled out of the deal.
“We expected to close four months earlier and then we found a new buyer,” Rizzuto said. “We were going to settle the taxes at closing and we did. The title company, the buyer and the buyer’s attorney won’t let that happen” — meaning finalizing a sale on a property with delinquent taxes.
Clarett owed $16,537 on 19 properties with most of the delinquent taxes on one property: 420 Oak Hill Ave. for $14,992.88.
Clarett paid the taxes Tuesday, according to the auditor’s office. That was the same day the listing was published and a reporter left messages with Clarett seeking comment on the back taxes.