A hearing will be held on Thursday in the Wood County Court of Common Pleas on Northwood’s efforts to get the owners of the Woodville Mall to tear down the dilapidated structure.
“The court has to decide that the mall is a nuisance, and that it’s a hazard to public health and safety,” said City Administrator Bob Anderson. “People are breaking in, there’s broken glass. It’s dangerous. We’re asking the court to grant us relief by ordering the owner to abate the nuisance. At this stage, it almost means demolishing it.”
The city would not be satisfied if the mall were razed, with just a concrete slab and broken up asphalt remaining, similar to the former Southwyck Mall site, considered by many to be an eyesore since it was torn down on Reynolds Road in South Toledo.
“There have been a couple of inquires about whether it would be good enough for the city if they just tear down the mall, leaving the slab and asphalt. The answer is `No.’”
He hopes the property is redeveloped commercially or is landscaped as a green space or park.
“Something other than acres and acres of asphalt that weeds grow through,” he said.
The hearing will be held on Thursday, Aug. 8 at 9 a.m. at the court located in Bowling Green, said Anderson.
The hearing is the city’s latest legal battle against the mall’s owners to get them to either correct county and state code violations, or tear the building down.
On December 14, 2011, Woodville Mall Realty, the owner of the mall at the time, and Mehran Kohansieh, an officer, member, manager and owner of Woodville Mall Realty, were served with a Notice of Building Code Violations. On December 16, 2011, a complaint for temporary and permanent injunctive relief was filed against Woodville Mall Realty and others, including Kohansieh, in the court of common pleas. On June 7, 2012, a default judgment and permanent injunction were granted against Woodville Mall Realty and Kohansieh, as well as other defendants associated with the mall.
The court noted in the default judgment that the city had established “by clear and convincing evidence” that the mall had moisture, mold and water damage throughout the building; the sprinkler system was non-functional in parts of the mall and may be inadequate in the event of fire; the owner had not paid for gas to heat the mall and that the pipes of the sprinkler system may freeze over the winter, causing further damage to the fire suppression system; the roof had failed leaving two large holes and numerous leaks in other parts of the roof; and water had caused damage to the floor in the mall, soaking the carpet and buckling the flooring in some sections, causing unsafe walking conditions.
The court noted that the dilapidated conditions were in violation of several Wood County Health and Ohio Building codes. Since the owners failed to make repairs to comply with the codes, the court prohibited the defendants from allowing public access to the mall until the violations are corrected to the satisfaction of the Wood County Combined General Health District, the Wood County Building Inspection, and the Northwood Fire Department.
On January 17, the city filed a complaint against the owners of the mall in the court of common pleas for nuisance abatement, and removal of the building.
Named as defendants are Woodville Mall Realty Management, LLC; Kohansieh; Ohio Plaza Shopping Center, LLC, which purchased the mall from Woodville Mall Realty on December 27, 2012; Soleyman Ghalchi, an officer, member, manager and owner of Ohio Plaza; Woodville, LLC; and other defendants known as John Doe’s who may have a current or future interest in the mall.
“To date, all violations…have not been corrected to the satisfaction of the Wood County Combined General Health District, the Wood County Building Inspection, and the Northwood Fire Department,” states the complaint.
Prior to buying the mall on Dec. 27, 2012, Ohio Plaza and Ghalchi had “constructive and/or actual notice and knowledge of the public record of the Woodville Mall case, including the June 7, 2012 Default Judgment Entry and the permanent injunction ordered by the court,” states the complaint.
The city maintained in the complaint that the mall “has been and continues to be a nuisance.”
“The defendants have had reasonable and ample notice, time and opportunity to abate the dangerous conditions and eliminate the nuisance, but have failed and/or refused to do so,” states the complaint.