The property—once the focus of an FBI investigation—is sold at a significant loss.
A Chinese businesswoman has sold the former home of ex-Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman for less than half of what she paid Coleman for it in 2010. Documents filed with Franklin County in December revealed Jianhua Li had unloaded the nearly 4,576-square-foot Berwick home for $250,000. In 2010, she paid $520,000 for the property—a price high for the east side neighborhood, according to comparable sales listed on the Franklin County auditor’s website and real estate agents who work in the Berwick area.
Li was considering doing business in the city of Columbus at the time of the 2010 sale, leading to an FBI investigation that resulted in no findings of wrongdoing.
When Li put the house on the market most recently, Columbus real estate agent Michael Jones listed the property for $550,000. He declined to elaborate on why the eventual sale price dropped so significantly. “The buyer and seller negotiated and put together a transaction, and that’s what they agreed to,” Jones said. The new homeowner, Danos Tiano, a Columbus developer who owns the 175 On the Park office building in Downtown Columbus, didn’t respond to a message seeking comment. Chris Pedon, a real estate agent who’s sold property in Berwick and Bexley for about 30 years, described the $250,000 sale as “unusually low” for the area based on the home’s square footage.
The East Haddon Road ranch, to say the least, has had an interesting history. After buying the home in 1993 for $131,000, Coleman and his then wife, Frankie, substantially renovated the property. A 2001 fire—in which the mayor raced into the burning home to save the family’s German shepherd mix, Missy—destroyed much of their work. The Colemans then renovated the fire-damaged home again, only to suffer through another serious blaze in 2003.
About a year after the Colemans announced their plans to divorce in 2009, the couple sold the home to Li following another renovation. In 2015, the FBI, already looking into alleged influence-peddling at City Hall in connection to the city’s red-light camera program, opened a probe into Coleman’s $520,000 sale to Li, a Chinese citizen whose company was considering using Rickenbacker Airport as a distribution hub. Coleman denied any wrongdoing, and federal authorities announced in December 2015 that Coleman would not face criminal charges in connection to the sale. (A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbus declined to comment when asked about whether the new sale was of interest to federal investigators.)
The new homeowner, Tiano, signed the deed to buy the East Haddon Road property in April 2016, but the paperwork wasn’t filed with the Franklin County Recorder’s Office until December. County clerks recorded the deed as soon as they received it on Dec. 15, says Mike Hobbs, a spokesman for Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor. Jones and others involved in the deal declined to explain why the eight-month delay occurred—an unusually long period, according to a former Recorder’s Office official.