Northwood City Council at its last council meeting approved a $750,000 bond for the demolition of the Woodville Mall.
The bond is twice the amount that would be required for a contractor to complete the work, Law Director Brian Ballenger told council at a meeting on Jan. 9.
“That way, if they stop, there will be enough to finish the job,” he said.
The owners of the mall have a proposed agreement with a local contractor.
“There is a contractor putting some things together,” said Ballenger.
The bond is for the demolition of the interior of the mall, he added.
“This would be enough to carry away any debris, any concrete, any asphalt. It is the first step. It’s going to be done in stages.”
After the meeting, City Administrator Bob Anderson told The Press that the owners still have to submit a performance bond and demolition plan.
“They indicated they are really close to handing in both,” said Anderson, who declined to identify the local contractor until he sees the proposed agreement.
The mall owners are required to obtain a city permit and the bond because it’s required by city ordinance.
“A demolition this size requires a demolition plan be submitted to and approved by the city, and a bond twice the amount of the demolition has to be posted with the city as the beneficiary,” he said.
“Our purpose is to make sure that the contractor doesn’t go in the mall, start tearing stuff away, and sell whatever copper and steel they can find, then leave the taxpayer with a pile of rubble. That’s the purpose of the performance bond,” said Anderson. “The bond company, not the city, will be on the hook making sure the rest of the demolition is completed.”
The mall has been shut down and boarded up since December 2011 due to violations of several Wood County Health and Ohio Building codes.
In a default ruling against the mall owners, a judge in 2012 stated 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.
Last January, 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 Pleas Judge Reeve Kelsey ruled that the owners must raze the building by May 2, 2014. He 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 missed a deadline last September to submit a plan of demolition.
An attorney for the mall owners claimed last month that the plan had been filed several days before the deadline, and that city officials had ignored it. Anderson had countered that the plan did not meet standards required by the court.
Still, the city will work with the owners if they are late in meeting deadlines to raze the mall.
“Whether those dates that are set forth in the judgment entry will be met or not, I don’t know,” said Anderson. “If there’s any demolition work being actually done, we’ll be very flexible. We really want the mall down.”