The board of the Port of Cleveland yesterday unanimously voted to accept a preliminary settlement with the George family over the property at the corner of West 25th and Detroit, the last remaining unclaimed parcel of the planned 23-acre Irishtown Bend Park that had been at the center of a battle between the Georges and the park coalition.
While the agreement is "still preliminary" — a Port spokesperson told Scene both sides need to take actions and finalize everything in court — everything is trending in a positive direction.
Described to Scene as a land swap plus other details that will be released once the deal is ratified, the settlement would bring an end to the contentious saga that saw the Port take eminent domain steps against the Georges and the Georges reply with a wide-ranging lawsuit against the Port and the park coalition members.
The Georges bought the long-vacant building in March 2018 for $248,000 and weren't satisfied with the $360,000 offer by the Port for the land. The sides had long been in informal negotiations over the property.
A revenue-producing billboard atop the abandoned structure (the old Royal Castle building) and the park coalition's argument that the hillside needs immediate stabilization, which can't begin until it acquires the property, were at the heart of the issue.
It appears both sides will get what they want out of the deal.
"In general, as far as Irishtown Bend, the goal is to get the hillside stabilized and to protect the environment and economic health of the region from a potential landslide, and to move forward with the stabilization project as soon as possible," the Port spokesperson told Scene while declining to comment on the specifics of the agreement.
Reached for comment, Bobby George told Scene that the sides have agreed on the major points but there's still fine tuning to be done.
"The devil's in the details," he said. "We're close, and we want to get this done, honestly. I think we've found a unique, creative solution. [The park] is going to be real great for everyone."