Northwood mall questions city’s candor
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 10:27
NORTHWOOD - A lawyer for the owners of the shuttered Woodville Mall is alleging that the city is keeping them from demolishing the site.
Adam G. Burke, who is representing mall owners Ohio Plaza Shopping Center LLC, issued a press release late Monday night stating that "records released... cast doubt on the city's claims and its candor with the public."
The more than 90-acre mall has been closed since February 2012, after an injunction filed by the City of Northwood and the Wood County Health District detailing the dilapidated condition of the facility.
A judgement issued in August in Wood County Court of Common Pleas ordered that the mall be demolished. Fencing was to be established around the property prior to Sept. 3, and abatement plans were to be submitted to the City of Northwood's engineer before Sept. 30. Demolition of the site is to be completed by May 2, 2014.
The judgement also awarded nearly $1.7 million to the City of Northwood from Ohio Plaza and the former mall owner, Woodville Mall Realty, and an additional $750,000 from Woodville LLC.
In the press release, Burke alleges that City Administrator Bob Anderson "told reporters that mall owners missed a court filing deadline and that their plan did not address the demolition."
However, in the news story link provided on Burke's website, as well as an Oct. 22 story published in the Sentinel-Tribune, it was noted that the plan was filed prior to the Sept. 30 deadline, but without necessary details.
In the Sentinel story, Anderson states that the plan, submitted on Sept. 23 by South of the Border Metal Traders, "was actually five sentences."
In an effort to refute claims that further details requested about the demolition were not submitted, Burke also released four emails he says Anderson, and City Attorney Brian Ballenger, ignored. He also released phone records he said show a number of calls placed to both men.
As of a City Council meeting late last month, City Engineer Dave Kuhn had been asked to put together a bid package to bid out the demolition of the mall due to the lack of a detailed plan.
"Unless, of course, and this would be the best scenario, the owner gets back involved and does what we believe they need to do, and the owner tears it down," said Anderson in a Sentinel story about the meeting.
Burke, in his press release, called the city's plan to "solicit bids and prevent the owners from completing the demolition" a "land grab for the city," later stating that "the owners cannot complete the demolition on the property without a city permit. And the city has blocked us at every turn."
A motion filed last week by Burke claimed Anderson said that, because he felt the owners had not complied with the outlined timeline, the city "would not approve any revised abatement plan (the owners) submitted and Northwood would not permit (the owners) to demolish the mall."
He also claimed that Northwood is "demanding the owners post a $1.7 million bond also not included in the court order," which he said others have told him "is wrong and unattainable."
A lien on the property is included in the court order, permitting Northwood to "immediately enter the premises and begin abatement and further to immediately foreclose on the above stated judgment" if the deadlines are not met.
Burke said that action, as well as the financial judgement in the order, "gives the city an incentive to block the demolition. This is why the mall continues to lie in waste."
The motion filed in Wood County court last week by Burke seeks to order Northwood "to review and approve any revised abatement plan that complies with the explicit terms" of the court order and to allow the owners to demolish the site without first posting a bond.
A message left with Anderson this morning seeking comment was not immediately returned.