Parkit owner defends slow development

Tribune Chronicle / Raymond L. Smith Christopher Alan, center, explains to council members, from left, Helen Rucker, D-at Large, Mark Forte, D-4th Ward, and Eugene Mach, D-7th Ward, why development of his Auto Parkit manufacturing facility on Dana Street NE is taking longer than expected.

WARREN — Christopher Alan asked city council members Wednesday to continue giving him time and providing support to his effort to bring hundreds of high-paying jobs to the former Delphi Packard Electric building on Dana Street.

Alan told council members his inability to come to a purchase deal with the complex owner, Maximus III Properties LLC, which is owned by Sergio DiPaolo, has prevented him from bringing in the jobs he promised in 2015 when it was announced that Auto Parkit’s manufacturing facilities would be moving to the city.

Maximus filed for voluntary bankruptcy protection last month, which prevented the Dana Street properties from going on sheriff’s sale. The bankruptcy also prevents Alan from moving forward with continued upgrades of the Dana Street complex, which he is leasing from DiPaolo.

DiPaolo denies Alan’s claims that his actions, including the bankruptcy filing, have stopped Auto Parkit from moving forward. DiPaolo claims Alan could not come up with the finances needed to fulfill the purchase portion of the lease agreement.

DiPaolo also clams he arranged for a bank deal that would have allowed Alan to pay what is owed on the facility and provide money for renovation, but Alan walked away from it.

“He (Alan) could not get any grant because his financials are not very good,” DiPaolo said. “The bankruptcy is not holding anything up.”

According to court documents, the Maximus III properties on Dana Street, near Paige, are behind in property taxes, fees and interest of about $108,000. The parcels being sought by Auto Parkit are $261,100 behind in taxes. Alan has purchased the former General Electric property for his manufacturing facility as well.

Regarding the concrete jersey barriers blocking off the property, Alan told council there is a continued need to maintain some type of barriers there to prevent vandals from breaking windows and stealing equipment from the site.

“We spent $67,000 in the replacement of windows,” Alan said. “We were having windows broken, doors broken into and items we just repaired or put in damaged and stolen.”

Since the barriers were placed on Dana Street, Alan said the vandalism incidents at his facilities have dropped to one or two. Councilman Daniel Sferra, D-at large, a critic of the barriers, questioned how barriers are stopping vandals from damaging the building.

“It is kids that would do it,” Sferra said. “They would walk and ride their bikes. These concrete barriers are not stopping them.”

Alan said they’ve caught some young people with rocks in their pockets.

The company now has contracted security personnel and has electronic security equipment at the site.

“We’ve invested $1.8 million into this facility,” Alan said. “We put in 180,000 square feet of building back under roof and are repairing some concrete wall block to repair some interior walls.”

Alan said they also repaired and replaced much of the utilities, including electrical services, water and sewer line, and added high-speed internet services.

Alan told council members that because he has not been able to gain control of the facility, three projects being done by Auto Parkit that were supposed to be done in Warren have been sent to other facilities.

“This is money we will never see,” Alan said. “We’ve had to have others do what could have been done here.”

Councilman Mark Forte, D-4th Ward and chairman of the traffic committee, will hold a committe meeting at 5 p.m. Oct. 18 to discuss maintaining the road barriers on Dana Street.

Several neighborhood residents, Ray “Cork” Manofsky and Diane Schlosser, questioned Alan about the mounds of debris on the former parking area of the Packard Building. Schlosser called the mounds of debris embarrassing.

“We purchased our home more than 20 years ago,” Schlosser said. “We invested in it. We’ve seen companies come to dump their construction debris, dirt and other junk on the lot.”

While critical of the slow pace of the plant’s development, both Schlosser and Manofsky said they want Alan to succeed in bringing hundreds of Auto Parkit jobs in the area.

“The kind of landscaping I would like to see on the lot is cars of employees going to good paying jobs,” Manofsky said.