Meadville Tribune

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April 25, 2014

Kepler Hotel condominiums now owned by area bank

MEADVILLE — More than a dozen unsold residential condominiums in a downtown Meadville development project now are owned by an area bank after a mortgage foreclosure, but two former officials who’ve watched the project say that’s no reason to consider the effort a failure.

The mortgage foreclosure proceedings were initiated by First National Bank of Pennsylvania on Meadville Housing Associates for 13 unsold residential condominiums at the Kepler Hotel, 900 Market St., for an overdue construction loan.

A total of 30 residential condominiums on the second and third floors of the Kepler were owned by Meadville Housing Associates and 17 of them were sold to individuals. The first floor of the Kepler building is commercial space owned by the City of Meadville and managed by the Meadville Redevelopment Authority.

A Crawford County Sheriff’s sale was conducted March 7 on the 13 unsold residential condominiums after the bank foreclosed the loan to Meadville Housing Associates.

Jennifer Reel, spokeswoman for FNB Corp., First National Bank’s parent company, said the bank is reviewing its options on what to do with the condominiums.

Meadville Housing Associates owed the bank more than $650,000 for the unsold condominiums — $635,726.22 in principal and $23,102.80 in interest on the loan.

In addition to being out the loan principal and interest, First National had to pay an additional $152,342.43 to the Sheriff’s Office in overdue municipal costs and sheriff’s fees before it could take ownership of the unsold condos.

The municipal fees were $146,237.68 to Crawford County Tax Claim Bureau for delinquent property taxes on the unsold condos, $1,278.90 to the City of Meadville for stormwater fees, and $725.16 to Meadville Area Water Authority; and $4,100.69 in sheriff’s cost associated with the sale.

Meadville Housing Associates controlled the 30 residential condominiums on the Kepler’s second and third floors and had sold 17 of the 30 residential condominiums by 2008. But none of the remaining residential condominiums in the Kepler had been sold since 2008 by Meadville Housing Associates.

Tribune calls to developer Bob Yoder of Turbotville, who runs Meadville Housing Associates limited partnerships that had owned the condominiums, weren’t returned.

Renovations to the Kepler Hotel were done as part of Impact Meadville, a $14 million project funded with both public and private money. It included housing, retail/commercial space and parking on a three-block area along Market Street north of Market Square.

Built by Susquehanna Valley Development Corp. of Turbotville, of which Yoder is president, it was designed to revitalize Meadville’s downtown by attracting both residents and businesses.

Both Andy Walker, a former executive director of the Meadville Redevelopment Authority, and Richard Friedberg, the city’s former mayor, agree the residential aspect of the Kepler has not lived up to it’s full potential.

“It’s disappointing that some of the condos are going back to the bank,” said Walker, who now is assistant city manager. Walker became executive director of the redevelopment authority about two years into the Impact Meadville project.

“The bright spot is the (foreclosure) move is taking the project out of idling,” Walker said. “It’s the first step into getting the condominiums into private hands.”

Friedberg, who was mayor of Meadville at the time of Impact Meadville’s inception, agreed.

“He (Yoder) got caught in the same housing problem in 2008 as everybody else,” Friedberg said. “The good part is it looks like the economy is starting to come back.”

Friedberg said he still thinks Impact Meadville was a good project.

“Clearly it was a good thing,” he said. “It brought people downtown. It’s better off than what was there before, but who knew what would happen with the economy.”

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