By Joshua Maloni
A feeling of euphoria seemed to spread across the Village of Lewiston last week, as news broke of a limited liability company’s purchase of the Frontier House. That emotion continued into Tuesday’s municipal board meeting.
“I’m sure you’re all aware. … Yes, the Frontier House is sold,” Mayor Anne Welch said, as a round of applause followed from the dozen in attendance.
Countless comments on social media suggest overwhelming support of the acquisition by 4600 Group LLC. The company is 50 percent owned by Ellicott Development CEO William Paladino’s 7112 Group LLC, while the brothers Williams, Jeff and Jerry, each own 25 percent.
The purchase price was $800,000. Gardens at Oxbow developer Bill Game provided $500,000 worth of financing for the LLC and holds the mortgage. He has an option to join the ownership group after one year.
On Wednesday, Jeff Williams said Village of Lewiston residents are “happy that there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the Frontier House.”
Welch and Deputy Mayor Claudia Marasco praised village counsel Joseph Leone Jr. for his work in bringing the seller (Hastings Lewiston Inc.), the buyers, and a half-dozen attorneys together to close the deal.
“Joe did a lot of work on this sale of the Frontier House,” Welch said. She added, “He did an awesome job getting everything done, and the way he wrote up the agreements.”
Last summer, the Village of Lewiston entered into a contract to purchase the 14-years-dormant Frontier House and property at 460 Center St. Leone structured the contract so that the Board of Trustees could assign the contract to a third party.
“All I can think of is you have a couple new titles,” Marasco told Leone. “ ‘The Closer.’ And ‘The Ringmaster.’ Because, to me, the whole thing – how many people were in the room? It could’ve been pay-per-view. I would’ve paid to view that closing.”
A deal was expected to happen on Friday, Feb. 8, but legal issues, including a resolving of liens, caused a delay until Tuesday, Feb. 12.
The Frontier House sale, Marasco continued, “must’ve been like a circus act. It was full of illusions and surprises. Just when you thought it was going to close, it didn’t close, and you had to go two more days. And it took Joe, ‘The Ringmaster,’ to get all those lions that were roaring on their stools and behave and get the deal done.
“You are an amazing attorney and a great representative to all these village residents.”
Trustee Nick Conde also said, “I’d like to thank everybody for all their hard work on the Frontier House – the mayor, Joe, and everybody.”
Welch said that, when Leone called to say the deal was done, “I just couldn’t believe it. After all this time, I just couldn’t believe it. It was the best news ever.”
The mayor noted it would take time for 4600 Group to develop a Frontier House plan to present to her board and the village’s other governing bodies.
“As far as everybody is concerned, you will see a very nicely restored historical building. The ‘jewel of the village’ will be back to its former glory,” she said. “It’s not going to be done tomorrow. So, don’t everybody start to say, ‘What are we doing! When are we going to start?’ It’s going to take a little time. We’ve got some funding things to do, and they have planning to do; and they have to go through our Planning Commission. It’s not going to be overnight, but the people are very reputable. They have the resources to do this, and they’re going to do a great job.
“So, stand by.”
“We’re looking forward to seeing the Frontier House come before us,” Planning Commission Chairman Norm Machelor said.
Jeff Williams said, “I think when spring breaks, you’ll see a little activity to make sure that everything is shored up. Hopefully we can get the (parking) lot open for people to use. And, at that point, we’ll go into our planning.
“I’m hoping by spring we’ll have some real activity.”
Paladino’s LLC is an offshoot of Ellicott Development. That company also owns 1.4 acres of land at Center, North Eighth and Onondaga streets, which is being molded into a mixed-use plaza.
Though residents haven’t seen much above-ground work done at that site this winter, Welch said Paladino’s construction team is hard at work installing underground piping.
“They are moving on that project,” she said. “They will be putting foundations in soon, I’m sure.”