MONTVILLE TWP. — More than four decades ago, Phil and Mary Annabelle Mast built a home at 5864 Wooster Pike, settled in and raised two children.
The property, which just barely sits in the township on a tiny tongue of land that juts into the city of Medina, one day will be part of a commercial development that will be home to an Acme Fresh Farm Market, the first in Medina County.
But for now, there’s no rush for the Masts to move, even though they sold their house to the developer.
Albrecht Inc., a development company based in Akron, bought the Masts’ house on Sept. 11 under the terms of a life estate, which means the Masts can stay in the house during their lifetime, even though Albrecht owns the deed to the acre parcel.
“They’ve been very good to us,” Mary Mast said.
Albrecht at some point likely will bulldoze the house as “future development” space, Jim Nilsen, company president and treasurer said.
When the Masts bought the lot, they said it contained a small orchard that was once part of a dairy farm. Phil said he helped his friend Bob Keiper, a contractor who passed away last December, build the house.
“That’s why we didn’t want to move,” Mary said after pointing to a framed family photograph on the living room wall. In it, the smiling couple are surrounded by their two children, 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
On a recent day, Nilsen said he looked out the windows of the Masts’ sunroom that faces the future Acme parking lot and pictured how their “quiet serene house in farm country” must have appeared 40 years ago.
As time passed and commercial development progressed, a water tower was erected next door to the house and a McDonald’s was built across the street a few years ago.
During more than three years of negotiations to buy the property, Nilsen said he imagined that moving would be traumatic for the Masts, who are in their 70s, so he approached them about the life estate idea and asked them if they would like to run it by a lawyer.
The Masts consulted a lawyer friend, Scott Ciupak, whom they knew from their church, First Baptist in Medina Township.
“Phil came to me and said, ‘(Mary) and I really don’t want to move,’ but there was all this development going on around them,” Ciupak said. “They said, ‘A developer is looking to buy our house, but willing to let us live there.’ ” He called the life estate an “archaic concept” that used to occur frequently when a widow wanted to stay in her house after her husband died. He said he had not heard of it since his days in law school about seven years ago. It also was “the perfect solution” for the Masts, he said.
Ciupak said a property appraisal was “about half of what the Masts wanted,” but Nilsen was “so struck by how nice the Masts are, he didn’t want to do anything that they would not be comfortable with. I was so impressed with how Jim Nilsen and Albrecht treated the Masts throughout this.”
“We want to be good corporate citizens and good citizens in general,” Nilsen said. So, he said he told the Masts, “Let’s talk about some comfortable number for you, what makes common sense to you and to us.”
Ultimately, Nilsen “gave in to the amount the Masts wanted,” Ciupak said.
The parcel sold on Sept. 11 for $200,000, according to Medina County Auditor’s Office records. The property is valued at $136,370.
“Jim has been excellent, like a friend,” Phil Mast said. “He has really kept us informed.”
The grocery store development represents a $10 million to $20 million financial investment and risk for Acme, the tenant, and Albrecht, the landlord, Nilsen said.
The 65,000-square-foot store is expected to be completed by fall 2010, Nilsen has said. The entire parcel is 42 acres.
The design Albrecht submitted to the city “went above and beyond what our code would require,” Medina City Planner Greg Hannan said. “Albrecht has been very accommodating and very professional.”
“The landscape and site circulation plans make the project unique since it allows for the future integration of office and residential,” Hannan said earlier this year.
Contact Audrey McCrone at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.