The owners of the Woodville Mall missed a deadline last month to submit a plan of demolition of the mall to the city, as per the order of a judge in August.
Northwood City Councilman Ed Schimmel said at a council meeting on Oct. 10 that the city is reviewing its options.
“The city attorney, city engineer, and city administrator are all working on that issue,” said Schimmel, a member of the city’s Economic Development Committee, where the matter was discussed just before the council meeting. “Work has kind of come to a halt over there. They’re looking at what we need to do to put together some demolition plans ourselves and possibly start foreclosure if they’re not going to move forward on the agreement.”
The mall has been shut down and boarded up since December 2011 due to violations of several Wood County Health and Ohio Building codes.
On January 17, the city filed a complaint against the owners of the mall, Ohio Plaza Shopping Center LLC and Woodville Mall Realty Management LLC, in the Wood County Court of Common Pleas for nuisance abatement, and removal of the building.
After a hearing on Aug. 8, Wood County Court of Common Please Judge Reeve Kelsey ruled that the owners must raze the building by May 2, 2014, and set up a schedule for the owners to follow in preparation of the demolition. First on the list was the construction of a fence around the property’s perimeter to be maintained until the abatement is completed. The owners complied by the Sept. 2 deadline.
But the owners failed to meet a September 30 deadline, as part of the ruling, to submit abatement plans to the city engineer, including a plan for the safe removal of asbestos, Administrator Bob Anderson said after the council meeting.
“They were supposed to submit a demolition plan to the city, and they never did,” said Anderson. “I think they’re trying to get around it. I think they just want to go into the mall and piece meal it out without a plan. I don’t trust them at all to actually tear the building down. I suspect they want to go in, take out what is of value, and leave us the shell.”
“Since they missed the deadline, one of the things we can do is foreclose on the judgment entry. It’s just like a bank foreclosing on property,” said Anderson. “If you don’t live up to the terms of your mortgage, the bank has the ability to foreclose on your property. That’s what we’re thinking about doing.”
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 the complaint against the owners of the mall.
Named as defendants were 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.
The owners could not be reached for comment.