ERIE, Pa – An eyesore sitting at a busy intersection in the city is finally getting cleared out, just in time to meet a court-ordered deadline.
A large U-Haul truck sits parked at the former “Warren’s Auto Service”. Owner, Warren Ferraro, has been ordered to leave the property, junk included, by Friday.
Ferraro failed to pay his property taxes from 2012 to 2015. Despite a number of appeals, Ferraro ultimately lost the piece of prime real estate at an Erie County tax sale in 2015. The deed was transferred to an investor in Philadelphia, Guy Leroy.
James Winschel, owner of the Erie Property Trust, bought the lot from Leroy in September.
“It’s just been an unfortunate situation,” Winschel says of Ferraro, “He ran into some challenging times. You know, I tried negotiating. We tried keeping him in there. It’s just…I think that it’s better for the city to have a fresh, you know, person in there, improving it.”
Winschel filed to evict Ferraro late last year. Ultimately, dropping the eviction notice and coming to an agreement in court in front of District Judge Tom Carney. Ferraro was given until June 1st, 2018 to move out.
The property sits at the corner of Peach and West 12th Streets. It’s a high traffic area in the city. An estimated 20,000 cars pass by each day.
“There’s a lot of development going on in the area, as well with a local developer – who made a cash offer – but he’s doing some great things across the street and he bought all around the area,” Winschel says of Leroy.
Neighboring business owner, Jason Lavery of Lavery Brewing Company, says he’s glad the place is finally getting cleaned up.
Lavery explains, “We want downtown to be a destination and having an eyesore like that on the corner doesn’t necessarily have a sign that says, like, ‘Come visit and stay here a while!'”
Lavery says he’s happy to welcome a business owner that’s willing to take care of their property and be a good neighbor.
“Having a clean lot or a high-trafficked business there would be amazing for the future,” he explains, “not a bunch of rusty old cars.”
Winschel says interested buyers wish to remain confidential at this point, but he does disclose that one is a restaurant business and the other is an automobile business.
He says one way or other, he plans on keeping it locally owned.
The purchase price of the building is at $250,000. The lease price sits at $2,000 per month.