Bieber park­ing lot up for auc­tion

Char­coal Drive-In prop­erty sched­uled for tax sale in Septem­ber

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By An­thony Sala­m­one

At one time, Carl R. Bieber Inc. han­dled as many as 60 buses a day com­ing in and out of the Char­coal Drive-In park­ing prop­erty.

These days, the buses have stopped dock­ing there; fi­nan­cially troubled Bieber abruptly ceased op­er­a­tions in Fe­bru­ary amid fi­nan­cial woes, and owner Steven G. Had­dad blocked ac­cess to the 150 park­ing spa­ces at Char­coal.

Now the prop­erty at 4440 Hamilton Blvd. is avail­able next month at a Le­high County up­set tax sale; Had­dad owes more than $95,000 in prop­erty taxes.

Lo­cal and state of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives with Pen­nDOT and LANTA, said they had no plans for the prop­erty.

“There have been no talks,” said Ron­ald W. Beitler, Lower Ma­cungie Town­ship Board of Com­mis­sion­ers pres­i­dent. “But since there is an im­me­di­ate need for more park and ride space, it’s a strate­gi­cally im­por­tant spot for the town­ship.”

Beitler said the town­ship has no plans to ob­tain the prop­erty.

Town­ship of­fi­cials in April ap­proved an or­di­nance al­low­ing for park­ing along a stretch of Ser­vice Road One, which stretches along the south side of the park­ing lots. Be­fore that, com­muters had to squeeze into curb­side spa­ces be­tween park­ing lot rows, on grassy me­di­ans or in the nearby neigh­bor­hood. Peo­ple com­plained that their cars parked in the Bieber lot were towed.

Other trans­porta­tion com­pa­nies have added buses to take peo­ple from an ad­join­ing 121spot public lot to New York and Philadel­phia. That lot, the Wescosvill­e Park and Ride, is owned by Pen­nDOT.

Gregg R. Ciocca, CEO of Ciocca Deal­er­ships, said he’s mon­i­tor­ing de­vel­op­ments and has spo­ken with Had­dad. His

Subaru and Audi deal­er­ships sit across Hamilton Boule­vard from the Char­coal.

“I don’t know about the pric­ing and how we can get it, but we will be at the auc­tion and make sure the bank knows that we’re in­ter­ested in the prop­erty,” Ciocca said. He said he was un­sure of how the deal­er­ship would use the prop­erty.

County prop­erty records show Bieber Inc. in 2002 bought the Char­coal Drive-In for $856,000, about one year af­ter Had­dad ac­quired the Kutz­town com­pany. Fi­nan­cial prob­lems be­gan sur­fac­ing more than a decade ago, and Bieber has been sued for at least $7 mil­lion over loan de­faults, health care and pen­sion obli­ga­tions.

Ef­forts to reach Had­dad on Mon­day and Tues­day were un­suc­cess­ful.

An up­set sale is con­ducted once a year and is the first sale at which a delin­quent tax­payer’s prop­erty may be sold, ac­cord­ing to Sean Shamany, di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions for North­east Rev­enue Ser­vice LLC of Plains, Luzerne County, which acts as col­lec­tion agent for the Le­high County Tax Claim Bureau. Prop­er­ties that are delin­quent in real es­tate taxes for the pre­vi­ous two years are el­i­gi­ble for the sale.

“It is rec­om­mended that po­ten­tial buy­ers seek the ad­vice of an at­tor­ney and re­search the prop­erty,” the tax bureau says in an on­line post. That’s be­cause any­one who buys delin­quent prop­erty faces any other liens on it, in­clud­ing mort­gages.

“We can’t ham­mer that home enough,” Shamany said. “They think, let’s bid, and they don’t re­al­ize the reper­cus­sions.”

The sale is set for 10 a.m. Sept. 18 at Le­high County Government Cen­ter. For in­for­ma­tion, go to lehigh­coun­ty­tax­claim.com and search Up­set Sale, or call ei­ther 610-782-3119 or 844514-5091.

Six Bieber parcels in Kutz­town are also sched­uled for up­set tax sale Sept. 19 in Berks County. Start­ing bids range from $4,000 to more than $50,000 per par­cel, to­tal­ing about $127,000, ac­cord­ing to the county’s web­site.

Af­ter Bieber shut down, leav­ing some rid­ers stranded, Beth­le­hem’s Trans-Bridge Lines Inc. made ad­di­tional buses avail­able to take daily com­muters and other pas­sen­gers to New York from Wescosvill­e Park and Ride and Heller­town. Other com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Klein Trans­porta­tion and A1 Limou­sine, have also been pick­ing up pas­sen­gers for trips to New York or Philadel­phia.

Trans-Bridge spokes­woman Jen­nifer Lechiski said the com­pany had no com­ment about the tax sale.

About 107,000 peo­ple live in the Le­high Valley but work else­where, while 97,000 work in the Le­high Valley but live else­where, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Le­high Valley Plan­ning Com­mis­sion re­port based on census data.

MADELEINE COOK/THE MORN­ING CALL

The Char­coal Drive-In has been con­verted into a Bieber bus stop. Bieber Trans­porta­tion Group, which op­er­ates sched­uled bus lines and char­ter ser­vices from the Le­high Valley to New York City and other des­ti­na­tions, may lose its abil­ity to op­er­ate out of Port Author­ity Bus Ter­mi­nal in Man­hat­tan.

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