A Lucas County Common Pleas judge has ordered the foreclosure of two downtown Toledo landmark buildings — one that has sat vacant for three years — and demanded sheriff sales for both.
Koray Ergur, owner of the 17-story Nicholas Building and the adjacent 10-story Spitzer Building, has been embroiled in a long legal battle over the buildings. He also has been charged criminally for alleged fire code violations at the Spitzer.
Judge Gary Cook this week ruled on the foreclosures. The sheriff sales have not been scheduled.
Patrice Spitzer, who sought the foreclosures, had accused Mr. Ergur of dragging out the foreclosure proceedings for both buildings, on which Spitzer Building Co. is the first lien holder.
A reporter was unable to leave a message on Mr. Ergur’s cell phone. Attempts to reach him by phone and email at a listing found for the Ergur Real Estate Group in California also were unsuccessful.
Mr. Ergur, owner of Ergur Private Equity Group LLC, could still retain the buildings if he pays his debt in its entirety, said Scott Ciolek, the attorney for Spitzer Building Co.
“Anyone who is being foreclosed on has the right to redeem the property before the sale but he has to pay the entire indebtedness plus attorney fees,” Mr. Ciolek said. “To keep both buildings, he would have to pay about $25 million.”
Mrs. Spitzer had asked a Lucas County Common Pleas judge in August to order the landmark downtown Toledo buildings’ sale, saying that without immediate action, their deterioration would continue.
In her motion, Mrs. Spitzer listed several examples of neglect, including the electricity being shut off in the Nicholas Building in June, which deactivated its sump pump and allowed water to collect in the basement.
The structure has not been heated in two years, creating “a flood condition in the building,” the motion stated.
Since buying the Nicholas Building for $313,600 in 2008, Ergur Private Equity Group LLC has never paid property taxes, and owes Lucas County $300,619.
Mr. Ergur bought the Spitzer Building in April, 2009, for $800,000. Unpaid taxes on that building total $130,579.
Mrs. Spitzer’s husband, Lyman F. Spitzer, who died of cancer on Jan. 10, 2011, was principal owner of the Spitzer Building. Before his death at age 61, Mr. Spitzer said the Ergur group made a down payment on the building and provided a promissory note for the remainder of the purchase price. But further payments were not made.
In 2009, the Spitzer family reached an arrangement with the Ergur Group. It said if the Spitzers found a buyer for either building, Mr. Ergur would sell. A sealed-bid auction in October, 2009, generated no acceptable offers.
At that time, Mr. Spitzer said he and other family members were “evaluating all of our options. Perhaps it may take a foreclosure or a receivership.”
In January, 2011, Spitzer Building Co. filed a foreclosure action to reclaim the properties.
Spitzer Building Co. is seeking repayment of more than $800,000 in outstanding loans, interest, and incurred maintenance costs for the Spitzer Building, 520 Madison Ave.
The January foreclosure action alleged that the note has been in default since Feb. 13, 2010.
The company also filed suit against Ergur Group and Mr. Ergur, seeking more than $300,000 in outstanding loans, interest, and incurred maintenance costs for the neighboring Nicholas Building, at 608 Madison.
Regarding his criminal charges, Mr. Ergur was allowed to withdraw a no-contest plea and he will instead go on trial in Toledo Housing Court for alleged fire code violations in the Spitzer. Toledo Muncipal Court Judge C. Allen McConnell on Tuesday granted Mr. Ergur’s motion to vacate the plea his former attorney entered on March 27 on his behalf to a misdemeanor charge of failing to obey an order to fix the fire alarm system in the building.
A trial date has not been set.
Judge McConnell ordered Mr. Ergur released from the Lucas County jail on Tuesday with conditions that he report regularly to pretrial services.
Mr. Ergur had been held in the jail in lieu of $25,000 bond since the judge ordered his arrest on Nov. 29 after he failed to appear for court dates.
Staff writer Vanessa McCray contributed to this report.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.