Owners of Levels to put bar on market

By J Swygart - jswygart@limanews.com

This file photo shows a sign on the door of the bar.

This file photo shows a sign on the door of the bar.

The Lima News file

LIMA — The owners of Levels Bar in downtown Lima have agreed to put the property up for sale within 10 days, effectively halting attempts by the City of Lima to gain a court order that would close the business permanently.

A hearing scheduled Friday in Allen County Common Pleas Court to hear arguments surrounding the city’s request for a temporary restraining order was postponed after an agreement was reached between the city and the owners of Levels.

According to court documents, the agreement states that Levels Bar, located at 122 E. North St., is to “remain closed and shall not be opened for any manner or form of business activity” as the property is placed on the market.

The bar’s ownership group — Helen Ruth Investments LLC — agreed “within 10 business days … to list the premises for sale with a local licensed realtor and to provide verification” to the city of that effort.

To facilitate the sale of the structure, the owners were ordered to remove the boarding on the doors of the premises. The city agreed to place on the doors of the building a notice prohibiting unauthorized entry into the structure and warning violators of the potential for arrest.

Under the terms of the agreement the court will set a final hearing on the city’s motion for a permanent injunction to close the business within 90 days.

The downtown Lima bar, more commonly known as Levels Lounge, was the the site of a triple homicide on Feb. 4. Terell McGraw, 28, Devontae Upsaw, 24, and Timothy White, 25, all were found shot to death in or just outside the bar. Police have issued a warrant for the arrest of 24-year-old Deontray Forrest, of Lima, in connection with the homicides.

The shootings triggered the city to request a temporary restraining order to close the establishment. Judge Terri Kohlrieser granted that request following a hearing on Feb. 7.

City Law Director Anthony Geiger claimed the city’s initial filing that Levels Lounge is a “nuisance” and a “source of various activities that are criminal or quasi-criminal in nature.” He said the owner of the establishment has “failed to take sufficient remedial measures to correct these issues.”

Kohlrieser, in her written response to the city’s request, wrote that issues raised by the city “… constitute, at least in part, extreme violence and major breaches of the public peace and good order, endangering the health, safety and welfare of the patrons of the premises, patrons of other downtown establishments, passersby and the public in general.

“The court further finds it necessary to grant this order without notice to the defendants due to the extreme violence at issue, a consistent historical pattern of violations of the law and the need to prevent or minimize the potential for retaliatory violent actions at the premises ….”

Violations that have taken place at Levels Lounge, as detailed by an affidavit submitted to the city by Lima Police Department Sgt. Nick Hart, include weapons while intoxicated, failure to disperse, riot, resisting arrest, aggravated menacing, misconduct at an emergency, assault, obstructing official business, intoxication, underage consumption of alcohol, marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession.

This file photo shows a sign on the door of the bar.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/02/web1_Levels-sign-on-door_01co-1.jpgThis file photo shows a sign on the door of the bar. The Lima News file

By J Swygart


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