YOUNGSTOWN Court will get new quarters

The city will renovate the building and lease it to Mahoning County.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The former Youngstown City Hall annex will get an inside-and-out overhaul and a new tenant next year.
Mahoning County commissioners have agreed to lease space there for 7th District Court of Appeals, now housed on the fourth floor of the county courthouse.
The annex is on the southwest corner of Market and Front streets downtown, directly across Front Street from the courthouse.
Commissioners also will lease space in the annex for the Mahoning-Columbiana Training Association, said county Administrator Gary Kubic. MCTA has been in the building since last year, moving there from Boardman.
Space is needed: Moving the court of appeals will help free up badly needed space in the courthouse, Kubic said. The appellate court has wanted to move for years because it has outgrown its quarters there.
"The new facilities will be a vast improvement over our current situation," said Robert Budinsky, court administrator.
Budinsky has said the court of appeals, which has four judges, occupies essentially the same amount of space used by one common pleas judge.
"They are literally stacked and packed in there," Kubic said.
He said the renovation and relocation will probably be completed sometime next year, though he was not sure how long it will take.
The annex is owned by the city, which would transfer ownership to the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corporation to oversee the project.
In a letter to Kubic, the CIC pledged to invest some $3.2 million into renovating the building, including restoration of a former federal bankruptcy courtroom on the third floor, where the court of appeals will be located.
The county will lease space at $9.95 per square foot, or $155,000 a year, for the court of appeals and $146,250 for the MCTA.
Must find the space: As the largest county in the eight-county appellate district, Mahoning is responsible for providing the court with space. When the lease agreement is finalized, the other seven counties will contribute toward the cost, Kubic said.
Common pleas court judges have said they will probably lay claim to the vacated appellate court space in the courthouse to replace a tiny courtroom on the third floor used by Judge James C. Evans.
Judge Evans' courtroom then could be used for the court magistrate, who has no court facility and must hold hearings wherever there is a vacant courtroom or witness room.
Kubic said commissioners would like to convert the fourth-floor facility to be accessible to disabled people, including installation of a wheelchair lift and equipment to accommodate blind people and deaf people.

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