The recent auction of the JPMorgan Chase Building in downtown Warren should cause the Mayor-Elect Doug Franklin administration to have nervous tics when they sleep. It should also cause city leaders to pause even more before committing to an $8 million one-stop building.
The turnover of Chase Tower and the nearby Park Place Building in 2010 shows how much the downtown has eroded in the last five to eight years.
The Trumbull County auditor appraised the Chase Building at $959,800. Brookfield Real Estate Opportunity Fund, Bank Midwest LLC of Toronto purchased the Chase building in 2006 for $572,489. It made $340,000 in improvements. Last week, business partners Bill Axiotis and Nick Liakaris purchased the nine-story structure for $75,000 in an auction. Brookfield would have sold it for as little as $55,000, the auctioneer revealed.
The auctioneer said only six or seven prospective buyers toured the building, and only three participated in the auction.
The auditor appraised the Park Place Building, around the corner from Chase, at $666,800, when local attorney Irene Makridis purchased it at a sheriff's sale on May 6, 2010. Makridis paid $100,100 for the 33,000-square-foot structure.
At the time, Mayor Michael O'Brien said the city was ''mildly interested'' in buying the Park Place Building to house the city's proposed one-stop. Now O'Brien is backing a $24 million bond that would include $8 million in new construction for a one-stop. The proposed one-stop would be about 50,000 square feet. Chase Tower is bigger.
The only buildings downtown that fetched much of a purchase price recently were financed by the government. In late 2009, Warren City Schools purchased the former Trumbull Savings & Loan building for $1.4 million. On May 4 this year the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center purchased the Kresge Building on West Market for $250,000.
The lack of interest the private sector has in downtown Warren, and the corresponding plummet in property values, is frightful. So, too, can be the prospects of building new when so much can be had for so much less.