Liverpool CIC accepts control of former Riverview Florist property

EAST LIVERPOOL – With some cleaning up, the former Riverview Florist property on Parkway will be “a gem” that offers “a lot of potential” for development, according to the head of the city’s Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) which now has control of the property.

City Council had voted previously to transfer the 80-plus acres to the CIC so it can be prepared for future development. A CIC member had suggested the transfer, saying the entity has the money to develop the property.

At a meeting Thursday, the CIC’s board of trustees voted unanimously, with three of the 17 members absent, to accept the transfer.

President Sam Scafide said he and planning Director Bill Cowan had walked the property just prior to the meeting. Saying it was his first time seeing the property, Scafide said, “At first, I was discouraged, but, if cleaned up, it’s a gem. It has a lot of potential.”

Scafide said it is surprising the number of garages on the property and the good condition they are in, saying, “You’ve got a (potential) welding shop right there.”

Member Chuck Wade, also a city council member, agreed, saying, “This could be the start of a new beginning for this property.”

Scafide cautioned that development will take place in stages, with the CIC not spending $40,000 or $50,000 at one time.

“I’d never allow the CIC checkbook to be depleted,” Scafide said.

Cowan said he appreciated council’s trust in the CIC, saying, “Council’s backs have been against the wall due to financial constraints” when it comes to having funds to clean up and develop the property, which was annexed into the city.

Mayor Jim Swoger, also a CIC member, said, “We probably should be paying on this property another 20 years, but by the grace of God, we’re not. He must have a purpose.”

The $1.3 million purchase of the property was finalized with the help of the CIC, which borrowed $445,000 from 1st National Community Bank and loaned $95,000 of its own funds to the city.

The city, in turn, was able to pay the remainder and repay the loan to the CIC, with a combination of mineral rights revenue and $1 million repaid from the water department for a project the city had funded. The water department was able to repay the city due to a $6.6 million award from a successful lawsuit against the Buckeye Water District.

The CIC’s priority will be making sure the proper security measures are implemented at the property, then starting some cleanup, including mowing.

To that end, Cowan asked the CIC to consider approving earmarking money for cutting grass and necessary locks and hardware for security, and the board agreed to spend up to $1,500.