Bookateria property sells; buyer seeks new commercial tenant
Todd Ladutko had driven past Cleveland Avenue’s Bookateria many times. When the two-story building came on the market, he and Alan Schweizer decided to purchase it for a host of reasons, Ladutko said in an inter view.
“It was in a good location, my partner and I own properties in the area, I’ve been investing in Newark since 1980,” he explained.
When Michael Horney, former owner of Bookateria, decided it was time to shutter the storefront that had resided at 70 E. Cleveland Ave for 44 years, he said it was a mixture of declining business and the declining condition of the building.
“It needs to be fixed up,” he said. “Somebody younger than us is going to do that.”
Ladutko, a realtor associate, and Schweizer, a broker, are answering that call. They purchased the property for $300,000 a month ago, and work has already begun.
“We just finished refurbishing the two one-bedroom apartments upstairs,” Ladutko said. “They rented right away.”
They changed the lighting, repainted, cleaned and refurbished the hardwood floors, he explained. They’re looking to do something similar with the first floor, which he said was in need of “modernization.”
“[There are] some walls that are paneled that we’d like to drywall and improve the insulation. The windows in the front, we’ll probably upgrade,” he said. “Possibly a new HVAC system – having central air would be a plus, I would think.”
As they’ve owned the property for a short time, it’s too soon to tell what they have in store for the building.
“We focused on getting the apartments done first,” he said. “Now we’re focusing on the other aspects of the property.”
Before making sweeping renovations, they hope to find a tenant for the first floor, which is zoned for commercial use.
“That would be the first attempt, to see if we can find somebody who could use a very nice, large space in a good location,” he said.
Until then, the owners are looking to rehome the current tenant of the first floor: thousands of books, which were inherited as part of the negotiations for the property. “We are working on some kind of good home for the books,” Ladutko said, adding they may sell them and donate the proceeds to charity, or find a group willing to take the books.
Ultimately, the bones of the property are good.
“There was no need to entirely renovate the property, to take it down to the studs,” he added. “It’s certainly interesting. We think it has a lot of potential.”
Editor’s note: Volunteers at the Pencader Heritage Museum have been digitizing old Newark City Council meeting minutes. They share excerpts with Newark Post readers in a weekly column.
September-December 1944: Double parking on Main Street was causing problems. Residents around Danita Hosiery complained about loud radio music at night, and the company was told to turn radios off by 10 p.m.
A new bridge across the creek was planned for North Chapel Street, replacing a wooden covered bridge. Rev. Dr. Arthur Jackson thanked council for its donation of $85 to the Playground Association. One-hour parking signs on Main Street were removed. Earl Lynch was sworn in as a special officer to serve as needed without pay.
Weeds needed to be cut in “the Chinaman’s alley.” This was a laundromat two or three doors west of North Chapel Street on the north side of East Main Street. Chlorination of town water supply needed to be evened out. William Crow’s request for a pay raise and two weeks vacation with pay was denied. Embree Brown’s fence was not adequate to keep his bull from getting out, and he was told to mend fence or keep bull tied up.
Due to wartime manpower shortages, council couldn’t promise when two trees in front of Richard Cooch’s house on West Main Street would be removed due. George Martin wanted to open an auto repair shop at 44 E. Main St., but the request was temporarily tabled. A professional engineering assessment of the sewage treatment needs of the town was ordered. Carl Nelson’s request to open a live poultry market on Haines Street was denied.