MOUNT VERNON — An application for a permit to demolish the old Mulberry Street middle school was filed Friday with the Mount Vernon City Engineer’s office.
The permit, filed by Joel Mazza under Mulberry MV LLC, lists a proposed demolition date of Dec. 15. Mazza lists Page Excavating, Lucas, Ohio, as the demolition contractor.
City Engineer Brian Ball said the permit is complete except for an asbestos survey. Ball’s office received notification late Friday that the survey paperwork will be brought in.
Under the permit, Mazza has six months to take down the school. Mazza can apply to extend the permit for another six months; after that a new permit application would be required.
Mazza announced earlier this year his plans to purchase the school, tear it down and build apartments on the site. At the time the property was owned by Jason and Larry Gunsorek, doing business as Mulberry MV LLC. Knox County Auditor records still list Mulberry MV LLC as the owner, and auditor’s staff said Friday they have not seen a new deed come through (the process of recording a sale can take up to 30 days.)
Mazza and the city had been working toward establishing a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) for the area of the middle school. The CRA would have given Mazza real estate tax breaks on the new apartments.
During the CRA discussions, the city sought to secure a performance bond that they could collect if Mazza failed to complete demolition. The talks broke down, however, and the city said in October it was no longer in talks with Mazza regarding the CRA.
The middle school is currently under a demolition order that Mazza is contesting in Knox County Common Pleas Court.
Mazza, speaking with the News Friday, said he has ownership of the property. The building will be taken down with trackhoes, Mazza said, and some of the materials will be reused. The concrete aggregate will be crushed on-site and used for the apartment parking area; there are parties interested in the brick and architectural features. The marble, sandstone and wrought iron will be re-incorporated in the redevelopment of the site as housing, Mazza said.
Mazza said after demolition he will approach the city council about restarting the CRA process.
Mazza said he sees the project as a step toward gentrification of the east end of town.
The CRA will further that process throughout the surrounding neighborhoods, Mazza said.
“The whole neighborhood is blighted,” Mazza said. “It is going to take a CRA that blankets several blocks to do that, if not eight or 10 blocks around the school. That is what we hope to accomplish once we get the property razed.”
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis said the permit application is an encouraging sign that the school will be leveled.
“The goal this administration had was to tear that building down,” Mavis said. “I’m pleased that Joel is moving ahead. The city decided not to move on a CRA, but that does not stop him from applying for a demolition permit and tearing it down.”
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