Gamble on plan to cost $10,000

City moves ahead on its demolition plans for Keller Building
Andy Ouriel
Jan 28, 2014

 

Construction company executives overseeing the Keller Building’s demise thwarted a man’s plan to salvage the condemned structure.

Steve Coon, president of an Ohio-based restoration company, lost $10,000 after he tried swaying executives to walk away from demolition prep work.

“The bottom line is that the Keller Building will still come down,” Sandusky ex officio mayor Dennis Murray Jr. said.

Coon’s ill-timed persistence with his cash played out as such:

A month ago, Coon begged city officials to not tear down the West Shoreline Drive structure as planned.    

Coon guaranteed he could obtain state historic tax credits to transform the blighted building into a 48-unit apartment complex — a project he values at $12 million to $14 million.

But city officials rejected his proposal, citing a $448,500 binding deal with Independence-based construction company Independence Excavating to demolish the monstrosity.

Had officials severed their demolition contract and brokered a side deal with Coon, they’d surely face harsh legal consequences, Sandusky law director Don Icsman said.

So Coon called an audible, directly asking Independence Excavating executives to halt their work.

“I reached out to Independence Excavating to inquire about their willingness to forego demolition of the Keller Building and acceptable terms for eliminating that portion of the contract,” according to a letter Coon addressed to city officials in January

The Register obtained the letter through a public records request. City officials have not discussed the letter in a public meeting.

Contract date
For a few days earlier this month, Independence agreed to temporarily stop demolition work while Coon tried devising a plan to save the Keller Building.

“I have given them a $10,000 check to keep if they must complete the demolition, a risk I was willing to take to provide time to further explore the possibility of an agreement to acquire and rehabilitate the building” Coon wrote.

The $10,000 represented how much Independence stood to receive had work gone uninterrupted.

But the gamble didn’t pay off, as city officials and company executives rejected Coon’s proposal and agreed to plow forward on their deal, signed in October, revolving around razing the Keller Building.

“This is a very fine restoration team, but deadlines and contracts are real” Murray said.

Independence Excavating legal counsel Mary DiGeronimo told the Register her company cashed the check, won’t give Coon a refund and adhere to their demolition contract.

“Excavating honored the request of a private party to temporarily suspend demolition activities so that the private party could explore possibilities to salvage the structure that will be demolished,” DiGeronimo said. “That private party agreed to cover Independence Excavating’s costs to suspend that demolition work for a defined period to prevent increased costs to the city”

A short delay occurred earlier this month.

But construction workers restarted efforts to tear down the Keller Building.

“Independence Excavating intends to timely complete the work and for the competitively bid contract price” DiGeronimo said.

The building will fall sometime this year. Some officials contend it could come down as soon as springtime.

Red flags
In December, when Coon presented a proposal to commissioners, Murray raised several concerns about his plan.

Chief among them: Coon wanted $400,000 in city funds plus ownership of the building. Sandusky owns the Keller Building property.

Murray, a partner in the Sandusky-based Murray & Murray law firm, would only agree to Coon’s arrangement if he agreed to the following clauses:

• Pay for any extra costs Sandusky would incur if it breached the demolition contract.

• Tear down the building at his expense if the revitalization project failed.

• Ensure progress on the Keller Building, be it demolition or revitalization, occurs about one year from now.

Coon couldn’t agree to those stipulations, so Murray didn’t agree to his deal.

“You will not sign the contract that I would require and the terms I would agree to,” Murray said. “It’s just too late at this point”

Comments

thomtom

Now thats the way to stand your grounds Sandusky...

Licorice Schtick

How much do you think the city will get for that 1/3 acre site?. A property across the street is 3-1/2 time bigger and the land is valued at $76,000. There is potential with this deal to save the city $200,0000 - $300,000 on the remainder of the demo contract. All they would lose is the sale price of an empty lot, if they could find a buyer at all. What they would gain is construction jobs and a rehabbed building full of taxpayers and consumers.

Darkhorse

This kind of unprofessional conduct should not be swept under the rug. What happened with the $10,000 should be investigated and turned over to the prosecutor.

Stop It

From the article above:

Coon tried devising a plan to save the Keller Building.

“I have given them a $10,000 check to keep if they must complete the demolition, a risk I was willing to take to provide time to further explore the possibility of an agreement to acquire and rehabilitate the building” Coon wrote.

Licorice Schtick

Darkhorse, that reads like actionable slander. You clearly don't understand this. Coon is complete open about what he's doing and there's nothing improper about it. In fact, it's admirable that's he's willingly compensating the demo company up from.

From the Grave

They should give ME the $10,000!!!

YoMamma

Coon rolled the wrong dice!

Truth or Dare

Uhmmmm, Mr. Murray, I don't believe the populace had a vote in becoming owners of that building/property, but we've certainly paid for it. Please remind me, were you a Commissioner when that decision was made? Yes? No? Just exactly how much has it cost taxpayers in "shoring" it up since? Waaaaaaaaay over $10K, right?! Take that freakin P.O.S. down, and if Mr. Coon still wants the property, let him pay a FAIR price for the waterfront real estate!

doppleganger

Why did he wait so long to show interest? It's not like this was a spur of the moment decision to tear this building down. This has been in talks for years. Too bad. He should have come forward sooner.

lugnut2511

Where was this guy three years ago? Simple case of a little to late.

Man of the Republic

I've been saying this for awhile now. If you look at Coon's field of work down in the Akron/Canton area, the City would do well to try to allow him to work with that property. Coon does great work, and I can guarantee the City won't be doing much with the property once the building is gone.

Darkhorse

You get a better deal waiting until just about when the wrecking ball is to hit. The deal was laughable. The developer must think the city is pretty gullible.