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The former Royal Castle building in 2018
The board of the Port of Cleveland earlier this week approved its part of a deal to acquire a property at the corner of West 25th and Detroit Ave. owned by Bobby and Tony George that had long been a holdout in the Irishtown Bend Park project and the subject of prolonged litigation.
In a deal signed last week, the park coalition agreed to pay $1.25 million to the Georges for the property, arrange for the billboard atop the long-vacant structure to be moved, and allow George to lease and operate a restaurant that will be built on the spot by one of the park partners, most likely the Metroparks.
Bobby George didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Scene but told the PD
: “I feel good. In business, you just want to keep moving forward and make progress.” And that the deal, “Solved a problem for them and for me, so it’s a good decision.’’
The Georges bought the property in 2018 for $248,000. They've repeatedly denied accusations they did so with knowledge that the park planning was already in process and included the former Royal Castle burger spot.
As for divying up the cash settlement, the Port will pay $360,000, which it had already placed in escrow and which reflects the original offer to the Georges before the Port proceeded with eminent domain efforts. The Metroparks will chip in $300,000. The remainder will be paid by other coalition members, though the split is unclear.
Pending approvals by at least one other board and the city, the deal will end the lengthy legal fight over the property — the Georges sued the coalition following the eminent domain action — and allow the coalition to begin what it calls "urgent" hillside stabilization efforts.
(Members of the park coalition, including the Port, the Metroparks and many others, have spent more than $1.6 million in legal fees on the lawsuit.)
The park coalition in December announced it received a $5 million challenge grant from the Mandel Foundation, bringing the total haul for the project to $17 million so far. It will need to raise $28 million more by 2025-2026, around the time it hopes to break ground on what would be a 18-24 month project.
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