Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2007
City weighs moves for land
The city is offering $205,000 for the property, purchased for $95,800 in 2001.
YOUNGSTOWN City council will consider a resolution today to take whatever action is needed to acquire a West Rayen Avenue building as part of a plan to provide a link between Youngstown State University and downtown.
Joseph Grenga, who owns the property in question, has repeatedly refused the city's offer to buy his 10,515-square-foot building. The city last offered $205,000 on July 24 to Grenga, who purchased the property in October 2001 for $95,800.
Grenga said he doesn't care what the city offers, he isn't selling the 102-year-old building.
The matter will probably end up in court, Grenga and city officials say.
"We're starting the process of using our legal options," said city Finance Director David Bozanich, who added that eminent domain is one of those options.
If the city files a lawsuit against him, Grenga said he would probably file a counterclaim.
"If it's a typical case, it will cost them $3 million to $4 million in legal costs and take them five years to find out if they're right," he said.
The city administration insists it needs the Grenga Machine & Welding Co. property at 128 W. Rayen Ave. for its proposal to extend Hazel Street between YSU and downtown. City officials say the connection is key to the effort to link the university to downtown.
The extension coincides with YSU's plan to build a $30 million college of business nearby on West Wood, North Phelps and North Hazel streets and West Rayen Avenue.
Grenga said it doesn't matter how much money the city offers him, he won't sell his building.
In a July 24 letter to Grenga, Bozanich wrote: "The city would like to come to a satisfactory agreement with you in the purchase of your property, but your willingness to negotiate is a necessity."
Bozanich also wrote that Grenga had seven days to respond to the letter "to avoid the city [from] proceeding under the law to acquire the property."
Grenga didn't respond, and said Tuesday that he considers the letter a "threat of litigation."
Grenga said it shouldn't cost him money to defend his property from the city, but "we're not just going to sit here."
The city's plan is to extend Hazel, which ends on West Wood Street, at an angle through vacant land owned by the YWCA on West Wood and Grenga's building on West Rayen to get to Lincoln Avenue.
The city has acquired land needed for the extension and for YSU to construct its new building.
Besides Grenga's parcel, the only remaining piece needed for the YSU building and Hazel Street extension projects is the former Alex Downie and Son auto service center on the corner of North Phelps and West Wood. That purchase should be finalized shortly, Bozanich said.