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Published: Tuesday, 2/27/2007

Bartley Lofts developers buy 4 units to remove lien

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Developers of Bartley Lofts, one of the most visible of downtown Toledo's loft condominium and apartment projects, have had to buy four units to pay off a construction contractor and get a lien removed.

Joseph Swolsky and Bob Gersten, partners in Bartley Lofts Investors LLC, which converted the seven-story warehouse at 745 Washington St. into a residential building, each bought two units for a total of just under $1 million in January.

Lathrop Co., of Maumee, filed an application for a mechanic's lien with the Lucas County recorder Jan. 19, citing nonpayment of $185,470 for work performed last year.

Steve Klepper, vice president and general manager of Lathrop, said the lien was filed as a business necessity. "This is not adversarial," he said. "This is just to protect ourselves.

"Within a matter of a week or so, we had an agreement and we've been paid a significant portion of it, so much so we've taken it off our books in terms of its being a debt," Mr. Klepper said.

He said Mr. Gersten and Mr. Swolsky bought the four units to provide Bartley Lofts Investors with the cash to pay him and other contractors.

The 52-unit, $10-million Bartley Lofts project overlooks downtown Toledo near Fifth Third Field with balconies, large windows, a rooftop pool, and enclosed parking.

So far, 29 units, including Mr. Gersten's and Mr. Swolsky's, have been recorded as sold by the Lucas County auditor for a total of $6.4 million in sales.

Mr. Swolsky said the project is in good shape financially, but that the real estate market has hurt sales. "We lost 15 sales because people couldn't sell their houses," he said.

In addition to the 29 sold units, another four units are ready to close, leaving 19 units still to be sold. He said an issue with the residents is the need for a second passenger elevator, which is in the works.

Mr. Swolsky's and Mr. Gersten's business, Park West Realty LLC, and Timberstone Group Inc. teamed up for the project.

Mike Denman, vice president of Timberstone Group, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Bartley Lofts Investors bought the building from Willis Day for $1,070,000 in July, 2004.

It was the largest project to that point in the movement to convert offices and warehouses to condominium lofts. Units so far have sold for between $106,000 and $444,000. The building opened in 1913 as a warehouse for the Bartley Co., a grocery wholesale firm.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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