Tarentum Council will auction railway station

| Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 12:11 a.m.

The old Tarentum railway station will be on the block on Aug. 18, but the restaurant inside will remain open, regardless of the buyer.

On Monday night, council unanimously voted to put the building up for public auction Aug. 18.

The auction is to take place at 6 p.m. in council chambers before council's meeting that night. Borough Manager Bill Rossey outlined the rules for the sale, but said the lease held by J.G.'s Tarentum Station Grille, the upscale restaurant occupying the building, will remain in effect when the property is transferred to the buyer.

“This has nothing to do with John Greco and the business,” Rossey said. “They're not closing.”

Greco, the restaurant owner, signed a 20-year lease with the borough in January 2013. That means there's about 18 12 years left on the lease.

“Whoever buys it, the lease goes with it,” Rossey said. “Whoever buys it will have a tenant for the next 18 years.”

Greco, contacted Monday night, said he plans to participate in the auction: “Absolutely, 100 percent, no doubt.”

He said he is paying $1,000 a month in rent now but the lease provides for increases over its term.

Although he has not owned the building, Greco has paid for renovations and improvements to it.

“We are not going anywhere,” Greco said. “We are going to be there a very long time.”

Rossey said the building, which is more than 100 years old, is being sold because officials don't want the borough to be a landlord and have to deal with the responsibility of building repairs and maintenance.

The borough's now defunct parking authority bought the building and surrounding parking lots in the early 1980s and it has been leased for use as a restaurant since then.

In preparing for the sale, the borough last year completed a subdivision of the property that allows it to sell the building but keep the parking lots and the revenue that comes with them.Rossey said the borough can use the cash from the sale to buy some badly needed equipment.“The borough is in desperate need for a backhoe,” he said. “Our current backhoe is 15 years old and we need to buy a small excavator, also.”

Rossey said the minimum bid will be $150,000.Rossey cautioned prospective buyers that they must adhere to the rules for the sale, which include: proving they have the financial wherewithal to make the purchase; putting up 10 percent of the purchase price in the form of a certified check; and paying the entire purchase amount within 30 days of the sale.

In addition, he said the stipulation of the sale is that the building remain a retail restaurant.

“We don't want it to be turned into somebody's warehouse,” Rossey said.

Greco said he has not heard that anyone else is interested in the building and doubts that there will be any competing bidders.

“I really do not, because I'm not sure it is going to be financially feasible for anyone to buy it and have us in there,” he said.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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