The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 15, 2013

City to purchase school administration building

By MARGIE NETZEL - mnetzel@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

GENEVA — The city will act on a contractual option and purchase the Geneva Area City School’s administration building on South Eagle Street and lease the property back to the district.

The resolution of sale was passed by emergency at Council’s meeting Monday night, along with a second resolution allowing for the lease of the property.

The land, which borders the former Geneva Elemen-tary School site now owned by the city, will be purchased for an agreed sum of $103,000, the resolution reveals.

The former school property will be developed into The Pairings Wine and Culinary Experience, a “business incubator” for the wine and culinary industry.

City Manager Jim Pearson was ill and unavailable for comment Monday, but confirmed the sale of the land and the lease in his bi-weekly report to council and noted the city and school administrators have been discussing the possible sale of the building for a month.

Assistant City Manager Jennifer Brown, who is working on the funding for Pairings, said the city always had an eye on the smaller board of education building.

“When we purchased the larger school lot (for Pairings), we had the option to buy the school board building,” she said. “We had it in our mind, we knew the properties around Pairings would escalate, so we wanted to secure the sale of that property as well.”

Brown said the city isn’t evicting the school administrative offices.

“They aren’t leaving, we aren’t booting them,” she said. “We think the building is charming and we would love to re-purpose it for something else in the future.”

In the immediate future, the Pairings committee would like to use the barn at the back of the property for the Pairings start-up project “Windows on Pairings.”

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

Both parcels are zoned residential, though last week the Geneva Planning Commission approved the re-zoning to central business district, and Council also approved the first reading of the zoning changes Monday night.

The city now owns, and fully renovated, the Western County Court building on West Main Street and leases the courthouse back to the county for court purposes.