Taxes are proving a hindrance to selling a commercial property in downtown Warren.
On Wednesday, members of the Warren County Assessment Board of Appeals heard a presentation regarding the building at 201 Pennsylvania Ave. W. Bernard J. Hessley, chairman of the board, said they would have a decision within five days.
Allen Sowers, listing agent, argued for a reduction in the assessed value of $88,272 for the property owned by Thomas and Gerry Africa. The taxes on the property are at $7,636.92.
Other problems also contribute to the difficulty of selling the place. It's probably too close to the corner for a driveway, Sowers said, and buying some land from the nearby McDonald's has proven unsuccessful as the company normally does not part with property it owns.
"It's less than 50 feet from the intersection," Sowers said. "Maybe you could squeeze a driveway in one corner."
As Hessley pointed out, there are diagonal parking spaces next to the property. There are six or eight of them, Sowers said.
Not only is the intersection with Market Street nearby but it is also busy. Still, Sowers said there are negotiations with someone who wants to buy the building and tear it down.
"Whether that will go through, I don't know," Sowers said.
Any taxes, Hessley said, will be based on fair market value. He asked why any sale would be contingent on lower taxes.
Taxes are so high, Sowers said, people are asking for them to be lowered when they look at the property. It has been on and off the market since 2000.
Over the last 10 years, Sowers said it was overpriced but the price has since come down. It started at $179,000 before falling to $139,000 and then $113,000 until a deal was accepted at a price of $65,000.
However, that fell through. Now it's back to $79,800, Sowers said, and there is an offer on it.
Nearby, Sowers said Watt Office Supply sold for $115,000 after being completely remodeled on the first and second floors. Also, Allegheny Community Center was put in a section of the Transit Authority of Warren County building after a sale of $100,000.
In the Africa building, Sowers said there are seven apartments, two offices and warehouse space. Three of the apartments could be salvaged with only $8,000 to $10,000 spent on each, but the four others would require extensive work.
"They would be in a gut situation," Sowers said.