Chapel Hill business owner knew plane crash victims

Chapel Hill business owner knew plane crash victims

CUYAHOGA FALLS, OH (WOIO) - There is a close connection between those killed in Tuesday's plane crash near Akron Fulton Airport and several local businesses. The passengers all worked for a company that owns strip malls in Bainbridge and the Chapel Hill area.

Several PEBB Enterprises employees were killed in the plane crash, including two principals and company executives.

John Arther is the owner of Play it Again Sports in the Shoppes at Chapel Hill, a plaza owned by PEBB. The company controls 4 million square feet of retail space and bought the plaza a year ago for $10.5 million.

Arther said a few of the victims toured his store and others during the sale. He described the company as a family-run business and said the owners seemed to have a genuine interest in his business.

"They did a tour of the plaza and our building in particular, and asked how everything was going, doing their research," Arther said.

When a roof leaked, he made a phone call. One of the principals answered and the problem was quickly fixed.

"For being out of state and kind of a larger company than we had dealt with before, they did try and stay in touch and take care of things," said Arther.

But Arther says he had no clue the PEBB team was coming to town, certainly not to visit him.

So why were they here? It appears for acquisitions. The company was said to be interested in purchasing Chapel Hill Mall. It is in foreclosure and a receiver has been appointed to sell the property. The PEBB executives killed in the crash included those who dealt with acquisitions. The mall property seems to fit squarely into the company's stated acquisition criteria of buying properties with motivated sellers, that have excess land or are distressed properties with the idea of a turnaround.

PEBB Enterprises also owns phase two of the Marketplace at Four Corners in Bainbridge. The property is still partially under construction, although other
stores have opened in the past few months.

Its website says it remains active in acquisitions.

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