Northwood city officials are taking a wait-and-see position as a court order takes effect for the Woodville Mall to be razed and material and debris to be removed.
Wood County Common Pleas Court Judge Reeve Kelsey issued the order after an Aug. 8 hearing with representatives of the city and current and former owners of the mall, which has been closed to the public due to health and building code violations.
The city filed a lawsuit Jan. 17 against Soleyman Ghalchi, of Great Neck, New York, who bought the mall for $800,000 in December and the seller, Mehran Kohansieh, also known as Mike Cohen, of Little Neck, New York.
Two companies incorporated by Ghalchi and Kohansieh – Ohio Plaza Shopping Center and Woodville Mall Realty Management respectively – were also named defendants in the suit.
Under Judge Kelsey’s order:
• The defendants have until Sept. 2 to construct a fence around the property’s perimeter and maintain the fence until the abatement is completed.
• The defendants have until Sept. 30 to submit abatement plans to the city engineer, including a plan for the safe removal of asbestos.
• The mall’s structures and debris must be removed by May 2, 2014.
• Asphalt and cement slabs on the premises are to be removed by July 31, 2014.
The order prohibits any demolition work from negatively impacting a separately-owned Sears store – the last retail outlet at the site – between Nov. 15 and Jan. 15, 2014.
“We’ve been in contact with Sears’s real estate department and their attorneys and we’re doing what we can to make Sears as successful as they possibly can be during this transition period,” said Bob Anderson, city administrator.
A judgment against Ohio Plaza Shopping Center and Woodville Mall Realty Management of $1.69 million would be imposed as a lien against the property, he said, if the owners didn’t complete the demolition and the city decided to do it.
The judge also ordered Woodville Mall Realty Management to remove the structure housing the former Elder Beerman store and granted the city a judgment of $750,000 which would be assessed against the mall property to cover costs for preparing a plan for its demolition and removal.
Asbestos removal has to comply with state regulations, Anderson said.
The city also requires a bond be posted and a permit for any demolition work.
City police made a recent arrest of someone in the building illegally.
“It would be a good commercial site still,” Anderson said, referring to the nearby highway systems and infrastructure in place.