WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Trumbull County Commissioners took the first step Tuesday to move forward with a plan for the former Saint Joseph Riverside Hospital on the city’s west side by determining who owns the building.
Commissioners first thought the property would fall under the Trumbull County Land Bank but confirmed the site is still owned by Euro-American Financial Network, Inc. The question of ownership was the result of clerical error pertaining to the parcel I.D.
The building on Tod Avenue has been vacant for over ten years since the former Humility of Mary Health Partners (currently Mercy Health) moved the hospital to Warren’s east side on Eastland Avenue. The property was then purchased by Euro-American Financial Network, Inc.
According to court documents, a judgement order for foreclosure was granted in favor of the Trumbull County Treasurer’s Office and a motion to authorize a sheriff’s sale was recorded in September of this year. However, Trumbull County Treasurer Sam Lamancusa said foreclosure proceedings are still ongoing.
“The sheriff’s sale hasn’t taken place yet. It is scheduled and in the process of being foreclosed, and a sheriff’s sale will be scheduled for a future date,” Lamancusa said.
The Trumbull County Land Bank would have to own the property to demolish it. Lamancusa said estimates for asbestos abatement are at about $2.2 million. Demolition costs are estimated at anywhere from $4 million to $10 million. The property has been approved as a brownfield site and could be eligible for demolition grants.
“We have to go after the current owner. We as the treasurer’s office have filed notice that if they don’t respond that there will be a sheriff’s sale,” Lamancusa said.
The county treasurer’s office has been trying to collect taxes for five years and is in the foreclosure process.
“It’s a tree and you don’t chop it off from the top. You chop it down from the bottom. We are at the top. The delinquent taxes are the bottom of the tree. All the other issues have to be taken care of and resolved,” Lamancusa said. “It’s a project that has to be addressed. We have to come up with something. Something has to happen with that hospital.”
Euro-American Financial Network, Inc. is a holding company operating in investment management and real estate rental and leasing out of Leesburg, Florida. The company’s owners are Ljubica and Slavoljub Stefanovic, who are wife and husband
Stefanovic said his company bought the 255,000 square-foot building in 2010 for about $2 million. He said he planned make $10 million in renovations to turn the hospital into an assisted living facility.
Trumbull County Commissioners had a special meeting on Tuesday to talk about the future of the property and any steps it can take to prevent a situation like this from happening again.
Representative Michael O’Brien says for any new ownership to move forward, the current owner has to be involved.
“This owner is obviously negligent and he is in Europe,” said O’Brien.
He wants to see if community development can help out with brownfield areas like the old hospital.
On a local level, Commissioner Frank Fuda talked about legislation that could protect cities and villages.
“Maybe forcing people to buy a bond before they purchase property so that this protects us from having this type of building from sitting there,” he said.