The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 1, 2013

Geneva BOE agrees to sale, lease of land as city finalizes contracts

By MARGIE NETZEL - mnetzel@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

GENEVA —  The Geneva Board of Education will not pay rent to the city of Geneva for the school administration building on South Eagle Street until at least 2018, the recently released sale and lease documents reveal.

The city exercised the option to purchase the house-turned-office building at 135 S. Eagle Street, a provision written into the sale of the adjacent former Geneva Elementary property, which the city bought and intends to lease to the proposed wine and culinary business incubator called The Pairings Wine and Culinary Experience, City Manager Jim Pearson said.

The city will purchase the smaller building and barn for an agreed sum of $103,000, made payable in five installments of $20,600 over five years with zero interest, sale documents show.

The board will lease back the property without rent until an undetermined time in 2018, the lease agreement shows, but will pay rent if the lease is extended beyond the initial contract. The lease agreement, which can be renewed for an additional five years for $15,000 per year, is a condition of the sale.

The district will maintain the interior, exterior and grounds of the building during the five-year lease and will pay all utilities.

A small barn on the property is of particular interest to the city as the Pairings committee would like to use it for a start-up project called “Windows on Pairings,” Assistant City Manager Jennifer Brown said.

Brown is the principal fundraiser and grant writer for the Pairings project.

“The idea is to repurpose the quaint, pastoral barn located on the back of the property,” Brown said. “The location is ideal to observe the construction of Pairings.”

Pearson said the property will eventually be a money maker for the city.

“The next step is to draft the lease from the city to Pairings,” he said. “Long term, the city will recoup the money we spent. The truth is this is a valuable piece of property for the city because we have a tenant ready and waiting to rent to.”

The Pairings committee plans to “rehabilitate” the barn and have the start-up business open by the fall, Brown said, with the expectation to offer wine and food education including wine tastings, food pairings and cooking classes; regional wine tours and concierge services; retail sales of Ohio wines, gifts and supplies; a farmer’s market, special events and business development assistance.

Considered a regional economic development project, the Pairings project is in the fundraising phase as the committee is raising start-up capital and initial operating capital from individual benefactors, corporations and regional foundations.

Geneva City Council President Jeff Piotrowski said he is excited about the Pairings project and is pleased to work closely and successfully with the school district.

“I would like to thank the Geneva Area City School board and administration for working with us on this important economic development project,” he said. “As all local governments struggle with cuts to their budgets from the state, it has never been more important for us to focus on economic development opportunities that will create that all-important four letter word — jobs.”

For more information on Pairings visit www.pairingsohio.com.