Q: I was wondering if you could shed some light on the Apex property located at 1643 First St. The building is an eyesore and has been for sale for quite some time. I recently looked at the Erie County Auditor's website and found the property appraised for a little more than $265,000. I thought that number was a little low for 15 acres of lakefront land. I then found an ad for the property and the owners want almost $5.5 million for it! My question is, how typical is it for the appraised value and the asking price to be that far apart? Secondly, why is the owner of this property only paying $6,000 a year in real-estate taxes. Somebody should really look into this. The public deserves some answers. -- Marilyn on West Shoreline Drive
A: Thanks for questions, Marilyn. There are two properties that collectively make up the Apex. One is 10 acres, the other is 5 acres. You must have looked up the 10-acre piece, which is worth about $266,000. The 5-acre piece is worth about $89,000. So together, the two properties are worth about $355,000.
I'm not a real-estate expert, by I think it's pretty typical for an asking price to be higher than the appraised price. In business, they tell sellers to ask high, and during negotiations, you can always come down a little bit. If your $5.5 million asking price is correct, however, that would be 15.5 times higher than the appraised value. My guess is that's atypical.
As for your last question, every property owner in that neighborhood pays the same tax price as everyone else, according to the Erie County auditor's real-estate supervisor, Pam Ferrell. The owner of the Apex property actually tried to get his tax level reduced earlier this year, but the zoning board denied his request.
Q: Jason, this town is struggling. We have many neighborhoods with houses falling apart, streets that need repairs and very few jobs. Why has the city committed so much money recently to redoing parks? -- Zander on Tiffin Avenue
A: Most of the money -- if not all of it -- that's going toward redoing Lions Park has come from grants. You can only use grant money for very specific purposes, depending on the type of grant received. Most of the grants the city has acquired and/or used can only go toward parks and recreational activities. It can't go toward repaving streets or a revolving loan fund for businesses or any of the other topics you mentioned.
The city also hasn't "committed" much money. It's put $125,000 toward the forthcoming Lions Park beach (all grant money) and received a $70,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for a new splash pad, playground equipment and restrooms in the southwest corner of Lions Park. That construction will begin next spring. But other than that, most of the proposals for Huron Park, Surf's Up and Lions Park are just that: Theoretical proposals. The city won't act on any of them until it acquires more grant money.
In my opinion, renovating and upgrading parks is a positive. It helps establish an identity for the city, increases home prices and makes Sandusky a more attractive place to live.
Q: Any update on when Markley's Restaurant will open? It seems like that project is never going to happen. -- Jill on Decatur Street
A: The project has missed several deadlines. It was supposed to open this spring, and then possibly again on July 4th weekend. Obviously, neither happened. One of our reporters spoke this week to Gary Neill, one of the restaurant's two owners. Neill couldn't give the newspaper an exact date, but after a long hiatus, they have started doing work again on the property. If you passed by on Thursday or Friday, you might have seen workers pouring concrete and redoing the sidewalk.
Since the owners can't give us an exact date, I wouldn't expect it to open in the immediate future. It might still be a few months away. That's just my gut feeling, however, and as soon as I know anything more concrete, I'll let you know.
To ask Jason a question, send a letter to 314 W. Market St., or e-mail email@example.com. Please include your first name and a location in the e-mail, e.g. "John from Decatur Street."