After cycles of bankruptcies and years of unpaid taxes, two Luzerne County properties are headed to an August auction that could clear their baggage and put them into new ownership.
These properties — the old Laflin school and a former manufacturing building on Oregon Street in Wilkes-Barre — are among hundreds of properties eligible for auction in the county’s popular final-stage Aug. 25 free-and-clear sale, when back taxes and other liens are forgiven, according to a preliminary auction list released Tuesday.
Laflin Mayor Dorothy Yazurlo said borough officials are reviewing the possibility of bidding on the former school, which is owned by Jerome J. Patelunas II.
Patelunas owes $9,918 in real estate taxes dating back to 2009, county records show. The Main Street structure’s deteriorating condition has prompted complaints from residents, officials said.
“We’re very much concerned with the way it brings down the appearance of the borough,” Yazurlo said.
Patelunas has maintained vandalism and other issues hindered his plans to restore the historic building for his welding business.
The county was forced to pull the property from several prior tax auctions because Patelunas filed bankruptcies in 2013, 2014 and 2015, officials said.
Properties are listed for auction if taxes are two years past due unless the owners are complying with repayment plans, a judge grants more time or the property is involved in an active bankruptcy case. The properties listed in the August free-and-clear did not sell at a September first-stage upset sale, when bidders had to pay back taxes and liens.
The Oregon Street property, owned by the Rockman family, has been in limbo for years due to two bankruptcies and a court action attempting to block sales, officials said.
The owners have not paid taxes since 2004, resulting in $236,000 in back taxes and penalties, records show.
The 56,600-square-foot property has been housing offices and bakery equipment supplies for the Rockmans’ business, Beroc, Inc. Built in 1890, the cavernous, brick industrial structure originally was home to Nicholson Steam Trap Inc.
A Rockman family member has attributed the delinquency to high tax bills and challenges maintaining and securing the large building and predicted the property would become a vacant nuisance if someone without financial means buys the place cheap at a tax auction.
Bids in the free-and-clear typically start at under $1,000 to recoup only the tax claim office costs to bring the parcels to auction. Last year’s auction drew a record crowd.
Among the other properties slated for the sale, according to a review of the preliminary report prepared by tax-claim operator Northeast Revenue Service LLC:
• A graffiti-covered former taxi garage and office at the corner of South Franklin and Horton streets in Wilkes-Barre owned by 777 LLP
• A three-story apartment building at 423 Scott St. in Wilkes-Barre owned by Michael Chiriac
• The former Redick’s Wholesale Fruits and Produce property, which is owned by members of the Redick family, at 335 E. Northampton St. in Wilkes-Barre
• The shuttered Academy Super Market building, 121 Academy St., owned by BSE Properties LLC
• The Randy’s Printing and Decorating Center property at 516 S. Main St., which is owned by Randall and Sherry Rushton
• The former Vine Street Elementary School at 61 Vine St. in Plymouth
• Eight properties in Duryea owned by Balchune & Balchune Partners, William Balchune and others, including a storefront and apartments in the 400 block of Main Street
• A former convent at 39 W. Church St., Nanticoke, owned by Personally Yours Inc.
• The AKA Metal Finishing property on Railroad Street in the Glen Lyon section of Newport Township owned by Leonard Stavetski
• The Sweet Valley Landscaping Company building at 66 Rear E. Liberty St., Hanover Township, owned by SVL Realty LLC
• The Plains Pub property on East Carey Street in Plains Township, owned by Dominick Ardo
• The Italian Education Circle social/fraternal hall at 3 McTague St., Pittston Township
• Storefront and apartments at 525 Front St., Warrior Run, owned by Constantin Palaghia
Staff writer Melanie Mizenko contributed to this report.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.