The sale of Lewiston's historic Frontier House may fall through after the prospective buyer, a Texas developer, inspected the property and sharply reduced his offer.
Alan Hastings, whose family owns the 194-year-old Center Street landmark, said Sunday that the offer was cut from $800,000 to $450,000, perhaps after the buyer saw for himself the extent of building code violations at the vacant building.
"The buyer said based on the results of their cost estimates they were no longer willing to pay the agreed price," Hastings said.
On Nov. 4, he signed an $800,000 sale agreement with Steven Bolos Jr., who was then president and chief operating officer of United Renovations of Carrollton, Texas.
The buyer, however, had 60 days to perform due diligence.
After a tour of the building in mid-November, Bolos reconsidered. Hastings said he received a text Dec. 29 from Dian Ruta of Great Lakes Real Estate, the Lewiston agency representing the would-be buyer, relaying the $450,000 offer.
"At first I did not want to respond with a counter-offer," Hastings said in an email. "I did not think that they were being reasonable or were interested at such a price difference. I had given the buyer a previous inspection report and he was well aware of the condition of the building before negotiations started. That is why we negotiated a price so low to begin with. I did eventually make a counter-offer after that and I still have not heard back from the buyer."
"It's not over yet," Ruta said. "They're renegotiating and discussing."
Village officials have cited the Frontier House for 19 exterior building code violations. Zoning Officer Edward Devantier said paperwork is being prepared to bring Hastings to Town Court soon.
"I know the buyer was aware of this before we negotiated a price," Hastings said.
Hastings said Ruta let Harry W. Wright, chairman of Lewiston's Historic Preservation Commission, into the Frontier House without his permission during Bolos' visit.
"It has crossed my mind that this may have given the buyer some fuel to negotiate for a lower price after becoming aware that they might now come after us with even more fines," Hastings said.
Ruta said Wright "stepped in the building when the buyers were doing their due diligence to give them some paperwork. Once. He went no further than the entranceway."
Wright said Bolos' wife is from Wheatfield.
"That's how he got interested," Wright said.
United Renovations went out of existence Jan. 1 after a merger with Katerra, a general contractor in Menlo Park, Calif.
A Katerra spokesman said Monday that although Bolos works for the company, he made the purchase offer on his own and Katerra never had any part in it.
Bolos could not be reached Monday, but Wright said he thinks there's still a 50-50 chance the deal will be completed.
"You always have to negotiate. You're talking about some pretty big figures," he said.
Hastings said if the deal falls through, "I still have some interest from others and I am hopeful that they will materialize into a sale."
One of those others is Lewiston businessman Jeffrey Williams, who said Monday he had some previous interest but has become involved in another project. He said he wouldn't close the door on being involved in a future purchase of the Frontier House.