YOUNGSTOWN Apartment building will be demolished

The city will work with private and nonprofit developers on a new building.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A South Side apartment building will come down. The spot at 55 E. Dewey Ave., however, could again be a place where older people live.
The vacant 143-unit Edgewood Apartments will be torn down under a deal finalized Monday by the city's control board. The building had been low-cost rentals for the elderly until recently.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will pay for the work, estimated at between $700,000 and $1.3 million. Demolition should start later this summer and be finished by early fall.
The city will keep the land after the apartments are gone.
The cleared land must be used for affordable housing for the elderly, said Jay Williams, city Community Development Agency director. The city must get HUD approval to use the space for anything else, he said.
The city will work with private developers and nonprofit agencies interested in putting up a new building, Williams said.
Several development groups expressed interest when it looked like HUD would sell the property to the highest bidder.
Building history: Goodwill Industries built the apartments 32 years ago with HUD funding, but the building closed earlier this year. Goodwill couldn't afford the $6,000- a-day cost to operate it. The vacancy rate lately had been about 30 percent and Goodwill was struggling to break even.
The building also doesn't meet fire codes and handicapped accessibility standards.
At one point, HUD withdrew its offer to demolish the building and turn the vacant land over to the city. The city would have had no liability -- but also no control -- over the property if it had been sold.
Williams renewed talks that restored the HUD demolition-city development option.
There is no timetable on how long the city has to make affordable, elderly living space available, he said.
If the city doesn't find a way to turn the property into elderly housing, other development is a possibility. Low- and moderate-income homes are one idea, Williams said. The city would need a HUD waiver before making a deal that doesn't include elderly housing, he said.

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