Ownership Of Downtown Newark

Downtown Newark property is news. The Jerry McClain Company resurfaced recently with the sale of the North Third Street Tower to Park National Bank (Newark Advocate 3-18-13). He had previously obtained the majority of the property north of Locust Street. Having leveled all the previous development that existed there, it is now vacant in anticipation of future potential investment. The Tower sale points in that direction. The new Heartland Bank building (of which Mr. McClain is on the board of directors) is an indicator of the new. Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation hired Fred Ernest to be its director. From the 3-22-13 Newark Advocate: “Ernest will be tasked initially with leading redevelopment planning and improvements for downtown Newark” The Advocate goes on to quote Dan DeLawder , chairman of the Community Improvement Corporation as well as chairman of Park National Corporation (a 5.5 billion dollar corporation according to Wiki): “This is an exciting time for the City of Newark. This hire shows our commitment to helping our existing businesses expand and thrive as well as the priority of having a long-term plan in place to further improve the business, industrial and residential living areas of our vibrant and attractive city.” As pointed out in this blog’s Vital Statistics posting, almost half of Newark’s residences are non-owner occupant. On April 8 a group of citizens will petition the City Council to enact rental registration along with inspection/certification based on safe and life sustaining standards.

In English/American culture the “commons” disappeared long ago. It is confused with the state and what is considered “public”. We assume the state (Federal, State, County, Municipality, etc.) to be akin to what originally meant “the commons” in that these entities are, in theory, accessed by all the citizens as well as are meant to serve all the citizens of the state. Unlike the commons, they also stand outside the citizens who make them possible through the authority of law. Square footage distinguishes “real” property from personal property. With the absence of any commons, all real estate (real property) must be declared as having a title of ownership. This declaration is made to the state (recorded) to establish rights and privileges (of ownership) as well as duties, responsibilities and liabilities before the law. Newark’s downtown has a natural limit on the east side (the Licking River) and man-made one’s on the others – the RR tracks on the south, the freeway immediately on the north and again eventually on the west. An area bounded by Locust street on the north, First street on the east, Fourth Street on the west and Market Street on the south forms a neat square, approximately a third of a mile on each side. To many, this is downtown Newark. According to the state, someone has title to every square foot of this 3,082,132 square feet of downtown Newark. Likewise, to be owned, it must be declared (recorded with the County). The names appearing on the titles of properties within this area in downtown Newark fall into 3 separate distinctions – individuals, corporations and associations, and government. Though each parcel of property is distinguished by Title, all are interconnected by the 5  (or so) miles of public roads and alleys and the water and sewers lines below as well as the private utilities of gas, electric, telecommunications lines throughout. Within this area individuals’ names appear on the titles to approximately 12.7% of the square footage recorded by the County. Government appears on approximately 18.5% of the recorded square footage, while corporations, associations and trusts appear as owners of the remaining 68.8%. Individuals are one or more individuals stated as such (Manuel R. Vela). Government can be City of Newark, State of Ohio, etc. Corporations, associations and trusts can be readily identified as a business (Park National Bank), Foundations (Evans Foundation), churches or entities set up primarily and solely for recording purposes; the address of the real property given as an LLC or LTD, i.e. 17-19 S. Park LTD.( a corporation, by definition, being an entity that exists solely in contemplation of the law).  Rights and privileges along with the duties, liabilities, and responsibilities of ownership may (or may not) be addressed by an individual whose name appears on the title, will receive a bureaucratic response from titles showing government ownership, but most likely will always solicit legal representation in the case of the majority of titles (the 68.8%). Within this group, churches make up about 6% of all the real property ownership in this portion of downtown Newark while banks own more than double that – 13%. Park National Bank, headquartered in Newark, owns 9% of the real estate in this downtown area.

The words ownership and development mean different things to different entities (people or corporations). Students are asked to “take ownership” of a project or task, assume responsibility. For a corporation, ownership can be an asset or a liability, something to be either capitalized or disclaimed. For a resident of a neighborhood, development can be less trash on the street, lighting for their children’s safety, maybe sidewalks to walk to schools or a recreation center, maybe even just a community center to begin with. For a corporation, development means greater return on investment, more profit. The economy of those who live in Newark (of which almost half do not own the real estate they reside on) is not the same economy as that of those having title to Newark real property.  One is an economy of sustaining life, the other is one of business and the market.

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