The Liberty Ford site on Aurora Road in Solon may soon see new ownership.
Michael Herrick, son of Liberty Ford founder Jim Herrick, confirmed Friday (Aug. 2) that he has a signed purchase agreement with Industrial Commercial Properties LLC for the site, which was selling for $3 million.
The Solon-based Industrial Commercial Properties located on Parkland Boulevard owns 42 million square feet of commercial office buildings in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Mr. Herrick said.
He said it is an undisclosed purchase price as of this week.
Mr. Herrick said he is unsure of the new owner’s plans for the property, but he believes they intend to leave the building as is for the near future.
“Obviously as a city, we are thrilled to have ICP, a Solon company,” purchase this property, Mayor Edward H. Kraus said Tuesday.
“They are tremendous developers,” he said, which have done other projects in the city, including the development of the NVent building on Arnold Miller Way.
The Solon land has been largely empty since Liberty Ford moved its operation to the city of Aurora in May of 2018.
It is the primary property in a proposed mixed-use plan that will be before city voters who are being asked to approve a zoning change during the Nov. 5 general election. Mr. Herrick has opposed the plan, which would allow for a combination of commercial, residential and office uses. He has expressed issues with the plan’s residential component, which allows for up to 200 units. Mr. Herrick said he believes it is too small to result in a successful development.
“We decided given our history with working with the city and the direction it has chosen to head with this project that it was best for the community and the future of the site if someone else owned it,” Mr. Herrick said on Friday.
The property has been for sale for a little less than a year.
The mixed-use rezoning proposal encompasses 21.76 acres of land, including the Liberty Ford site, which is about 11 acres.
Mayor Kraus said the developer will take what is an underutilized property, Liberty Ford, and “really maximize the usage and development of the property.
“That is what they are known for,” he said, “and they are great partners with other communities. I’m looking forward to that partnership.”
Mayor Kraus said it is at the beginning of the process in terms of the sale and that ICP has to do their own due diligence on the property.
“We will work with them and partner with them as we move forward getting this vote on the ballot and getting that approved by the community and Ward 6,” he said. “That’s the immediate focus.”
Moving forward, Mayor Kraus said town hall meetings would be planned to get the community involved in the process.
“The more engaged and educated the community is, the better off we are as a city,” he added. “We will ask ICP if they want to participate in these meetings with us to engage the community.”
Liberty Ford pulled out of the city after nearly 20 years, moving its operations 4 miles away to the city of Aurora as part of a $13 million redevelopment project on a section of the former Geauga Lake Amusement Park site. Liberty Ford officials left the city after reaching an impasse in negotiations with former Mayor Susan A. Drucker’s administration to expand the Solon site.
This article has been updated to upon further reporting.