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Published: Monday, 3/17/2014 - Updated: 8 months ago

Auction off for Toledo landmark

$922,632 payment halts sheriff’s sale of Spitzer Building

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Spitzer Building owner Koray Ergur still owes about $250,000 to pay off a foreclosure judgment, an attorney for the court-appointed receiver estimates. Spitzer Building owner Koray Ergur still owes about $250,000 to pay off a foreclosure judgment, an attorney for the court-appointed receiver estimates.
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The landmark downtown Spitzer Building — a one-time hub of Toledo’s legal community that was shuttered in December — will once again be removed from a Lucas County sheriff-sale list following a payment by owner Koray Ergur that keeps it from public auction.

Mr. Ergur sent a check for $922,632 to “pay off a substantial amount” of the foreclosure judgment on the building, said Scott Ciolek, the attorney representing court-appointed receiver Patrice Spitzer.

“That covers the base amount of what the judgment was, without the interest added,” Mr. Ciolek said. “And as such, we are going to cancel the sheriff sales that have been scheduled in the hope he will pay off the balance before we have to reschedule.”

Mr. Ergur could not be reached for comment. He owes about $250,000 additionally to cover interest, Mr. Ciolek said.

“For the Spitzers, they have always hoped to be paid for the building and that it would go into the hands of people who would redevelop it,” Mr. Ciolek said. “Mr. Ergur’s new investors hopefully will be those people, but what they will do with it, and who the backers are, is unclear to me.”

A sheriff’s sale was scheduled for April 9. Lucas County Clerk of Courts Bernie Quilter confirmed a check was delivered Monday.

The Lucas County Land Bank was working with Mrs. Spitzer and the Spitzer Building Co., which holds the note on the property, to gain control of the 117-year-old structure.

Mrs. Spitzer could not be reached for comment. In deciding to close the building, she previously cited a falling occupancy rate, expenses for maintenance and repairs, and additional staff needed for fire safety checks mandated after the building’s alarm system failed.

Late last year Mr. Ergur twice came forward at the last minute with money to call off tax delinquency sales.

A sheriff’s sale of the Spitzer Building was canceled in November, 2013, after Mr. Ergur appeared at the Lucas County Treasurer’s Office with a cashier’s check for $191,174 to pay back taxes and court costs owed on the 10-story building.

In 2009, Mr. Ergur bought the Spitzer Building at 520 Madison Ave. and the 17-story Nicholas Building nearby. They have been the focus of a lengthy foreclosure action in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

In July, 2013, Mr. Ergur showed up at the county auditor’s office a day before the sheriff’s auction of the Nicholas Building and paid off $226,129 in unpaid property taxes and court costs.

Mr. Ergur, as head of his EPE Spitzer Building Co., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June, citing debts of $11.2 million and unspecified assets between $100,000 and $500,000.

Because of the bankruptcy, Mr. Ergur could not use his personal money to pay the taxes. It was unclear who provided Mr. Ergur with the cashier’s checks for the payments.

Wade Kapszukiewicz, Lucas County treasurer and chairman of the county’s land bank, said it is up the the Collins administration to push the owner to redevelop the building.

“The land bank has used all the tools in its toolbox, and now it is up to the city of Toledo to hold Koray Ergur’s feet to the fire,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. “Now that the land bank has taken this as far as it can take it, the leadership now passes to the city of Toledo to make sure he does right by the city.”

Lisa Ward, Mayor D. Michael Collins’ spokesman, said the administration is investigating ways to force the building owner to comply with code requirements.

The city, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and the land bank each contributed $15,000 last year to pay utility bills, operate the fire-suppression system, secure the elevators, and provide for other costs after the building’s Dec. 1 closure. Megan Vahey Casiere, Lucas County chief of planning and development, said the county dedicated another $15,000 late in 2013.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.



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