City wants to purchase downtown Paru Tower

Court asked to approve $500,000 offer for long-empty building.

ByJim Otte

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A deal is in the works for the city of Dayton to buy a historic downtown office building that has been empty for more than a decade.

Jonathan Hung, court-appointed receiver for the property, has asked the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court to approve the sale of the Paru Tower, 34 North Main Street, to the city for $500,000.

“The building is in surprisingly good condition, given its age and given how long it has sat on the market,” Hung said.

The 14-story tower was built in 1926 to house the Third National Bank and Trust company. It later became the Society Bank building. The Montgomery County treasurer valued the building at $6.3 million in 2000, but in later years its value dropped dramatically.

In 2010 a self-proclaimed Hindu guru, Annamalai Annamalai, who called himself Dr. Commander Selvam, bought the building. Its value then was listed by the county at $1 million. Selvam’s renovation plans never materialized. Last year Selvam was convicted of securities fraud in Georgia and is serving a sentence of 27 years in federal prison.

According to the county treasurer, the current owner owes $257,193 in back taxes on the property. The most recent appraisal, paid for by the receiver, put the market value of the building at $350,000. That same appraisal listed the building’s best use as “speculation or development as a Historic Tax Credit market rate apartment community.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said purchasing the tower would “be consistent with the city’s intent to secure key properties downtown so that reuse is an orderly process.”

Two other bidders made attempts to buy the building across from Courthouse Square, but the city’s bid was the highest.

“I earnestly believe this is the best offer that we have, not what we expected. I think all parties believed the property was worth more,” Hung said.

Creditors in a Georgia bankruptcy case involving Selvam’s failed businesses are hoping the sale will produce some cash. Their attorney, Ron Kozar, shares Hung’s optimism.

“I am confident that the court will approve the motion. The court will likely take a hard look at it to see that it is the maximum amount of money in a reasonable amount of time,” Kozar said.

The proposed sale may meet with some resistance from the current owner. Through his attorney, Selvam could try to block the sale at a hearing set for July 29.