Liberty Ford property in Solon (copy)

The former Liberty Ford property on Aurora Road in Solon.

Industrial Commercial Properties canceled its deal to purchase the previous Liberty Ford lot in Solon Dec. 2 due to a discovery following an environmental survey that the land requires an environmental cleanup before it meets regulations to be built upon.

Solon residents voted Nov. 5 to pass Issue 65 to rezone the old Liberty Ford lot at 32811 Aurora Road as a mixed-use development to allow ICP to construct a combination of a hotel, high-end apartments and restaurants, Solon Mayor Eddy Kraus said.

The land, occupied by Liberty Ford until its move to its Aurora location in 2016, was a gas station and a dry cleaner before becoming a car dealership, Kraus said.

Through a test of the lot’s soil bearings, it was discovered hazardous materials like gasoline had seeped into the ground.

“I think that whenever you have a site that has a former car dealership and a former gas station and dry cleaner years ago, there can be environmental issues,” Kraus said. “ICP was making a determination as to whether or not they were going to spend all the money to clean that up, because – I don’t know the exact figure – but it’s not cheap to clean up the site. Their final decision wasn’t a complete shock.”

The lot is 5.95 acres consisting of three parcels with a gross leasable area of 21,828 square feet consisting of an auto showroom and service facility, car wash and Enterprise Rent-A-Car building, according to the location’s listing on Loopnet for sale through Hanna Commercial Real Estate.

“On December 2, 2019, ICP terminated its contract with Liberty Ford to acquire its former dealership in Solon due to unsatisfactory due diligence investigations that materially impacted the economic viability of our proposed project,” ICP COO Chris Salata wrote in an email to the Cleveland Jewish News. “That said, we are glad that we could participate in the successful re-zoning of the property with the City of Solon and wish the Seller and the City the best with the redevelopment of the site.”

John Palmer, head of RCRA Closure/Corrective Action with Ohio EPA’s Cuyahoga County Environmental Response and Revitalization, described the best process Liberty Ford could take to clean the land up would be going through its Voluntary Action Program where they would work with an Ohio EPA-certified professional and laboratory to guarantee the clean-up meets the required levels by the program rules.

“It’s basically a process whereby you can pass through various stages to get a cleanup done,” Palmer said. “At the end of it, you get what we call a covenant not to sue, which is kind of like a ‘get out of jail free card’ that the agency recognizes that work has been done to specifications in the rules and we’re not going to come after the property owner for environmental liability once they’ve got that covenant not to sue.”

Clean-up could be as simple as digging up the contaminated soil and taking it to a licensed facility or far more intense remedies - it all depends on the level of contamination and if there’s groundwater contamination.

“If very simple, it might take a year, depending on what track of the VAP you’re in, how fast your CP works, how fast you can arrange for the remediation to be done, things like that,” Palmer said. “It could take a year, it could take several years. You’re talking tens of thousands of dollars, but if the property is worth it, it may be a good investment.”

ICP declined to comment on whether it would consider purchasing the land if Liberty Ford were to clean-up the land.

Liberty Ford could not be reached for comment.

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