By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda City Council was informed Tuesday night of the March 27 sale of the former Ava’s Place building to the owner of Walker Bros & Monroe Jewelers.
The city took control of the property at 88 Webster St. in late January after City Attorney Shawn Nickerson said its longtime owners, Randy Siford and his mother Effie, failed to make amends on delinquent tax payments totaling $50,000, half of which was paid off in the fall.
Jay Soemann was under contract to buy the property form the Sifords for $140,000, when the city seized the property. Court proceedings led to a stay on the sale, which was overruled by Niagara County State Supreme Court Judge Frank Caruso.
The city sold the property to Soemann for $95,000, a drastic reduction from the original terms. Siford originally pledged to appeal the decision last month before switching legal counsel.
His current attorney, Scott Lupiani, said he is in the process of reviewing files from Siford’s previous attorney.
“At this point I couldn’t tell you what legal action we would bring,” Lupiani said. “Mr. Siford has a contract with the buyer, the Sifords were moving forward with their due diligence. I think the city took actions that let’s just say were not congruent with actions that they should have taken.”
Soemann told the Tonawanda News last year that he planned to turn refurbish the entire structure, turning the first floor into commercial space and the second floor into a luxury apartment. Nickerson said as far as he’s concerned the issue has now been put to rest.
“The city no longer owns the property,” he said. “It’s closed.”
In other council news:
• The council recognized Mayor Rob Ortt’s appointment of William R. Hall, a longtime captain and officer with the North Tonawanda Police Department, to the position of interim police chief effective March 29. Former Police Chief Randy Szukala retired last week and a search to find his replacement is underway.
• Ortt donated more than $8,000 to the Polaris District Boy Scouts of America during Tuesday’s meeting. The funds were raised during his annual winter ball.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.