YDC property goes back up for bid

Bids on the former YDC property in Shenango Township must be received by the Department of General Services by 3 p.m. Dec. 5.

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Bids for the former YDC property in Shenango Township will be opened at 3 p.m. today.

Shenango Supervisor chairman Frank Augustine on Monday confirmed that bids are due in the office of Pennsylvania Department of General Services in Harrisburg. He said Supervisor Al Burick III is expected to be in Harrisburg for the bid opening.

"We are hopeful the 145-acre property will be sold to benefit the township and its economic development," Augustine said. "This is shovel-ready that we hope to get sold and onto the tax rolls."

The site of the former Youth Development Center includes 13 buildings containing 236,444 square feet of space. It has sat vacant since February 2013 when the YDC closed.

Augustine said four companies, each considered a serious contender, have contacted the supervisors asking questions.

"They asked about the zoning and the buildings, some of which are very specialized," he said. "They also asked about utility costs and assessment for taxes. We've referred them to the GSA since they own the property."

He said the property had been assessed at $2 million at one time. But since it is owned by the state, no taxes have been collected on it.

Troy Thompson, press secretary for the Department of General Services, confirmed that all bids will be opened shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday.

"We will then record the information," he said. "Then we will tabulate the bids and determine which are responsible bidders. That will take 30 to 45 minutes. Then we can release information."

Thompson said it could take a day or two before the Department of General Services can confirm the award. "We will have to investigate bidders to ensure they are responsible, but we can release the number of bids and the amount of each bid," he said.

Earlier this year three bids were received on the property — $400,000 from Hira Educational Services of New Jersey and its CEO Asif Kunwar, a nonprofit agency with income of about $50,000 per year; $300,000 as a personal bid from Kunwar; and a third bid of $305,000.

Hira was identified as the successful bidder and made the required downpayment but the pending sale fell through when Hira failed to provide $360,000 owed on the property by the Aug. 28 deadline. Kunwar's attorney, at the time, said litigation involving the property had made it impossible for Kunwar to secure financing to complete the purchase.

Kunwar had said he planned to use the property as a school for juvenile offenders, as it was when the YDC operated.

Trying to bar the sale, the Shenango Township supervisors, Lawrence County commissioners and local legislators went to Commonwealth Court to nullify the sale, saying Kunwar had violated the non-collusion provision of bidding process by submitting two bids. Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa also launched an investigation into the sale process because Kunwar had submitted two bids.

After the earlier bid was rejected, the Department of General Services readvertised the property including in Lawrence and surrounding counties.

The property is located in an industrial park. The supervisors have since tweaked the zoning ordinance to prohibit commercial and trade schools from being located at the site.

nlowry@ncnewsonline.com

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Nancy Lowry is a reporter at the New Castle News. Email her at nlowry@ncnewsonline.com