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YOUNGSTOWN City holds up permit for razing parking deck



Published: Thu, May 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



USA Parking wants to create two surface parking lots and a small park.

By ROGER G. SMITH

CITY HALL REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Water and concrete dust sometimes drop onto cars parked inside the massive old parking deck on Boardman Street downtown. Many spaces were blocked off in recent years for safety reasons.

Nonetheless, the privately owned garage remains open. Many cars still park there each day.

That fact gave pause Wednesday to the city's Design Review Commission, which deferred issuing the deck's owner a demolition permit. Instead, the board first wants to see a structural analysis and cost estimates on rehabilitating all or part of the garage.

Company's plan

The deck's owner, USA Parking Systems, wants to knock down the whole thing. That includes:

UThe garage, with its entrance on Boardman Street.

UThe old Hasti House restaurant on Phelps Street, which is part of the garage.

UThe three-level brick section along Front Street, which is a separate building but part of the parking complex.

Only the WFMJ and Amedia Plaza buildings would be left standing on the Phelps-Front-Hazel-Boardman block.

USA wants to create two surface parking lots totaling 181 spaces. Entrances would be on Front and Hazel streets. The lots would be on two levels because the site sits on a small hill. A park would be built across from city hall between WFMJ and Amedia Plaza.

"We want to do something more positive than what's there now," said Gus Frangos of USA Parking.

The plan would mean a net loss of about 60 spaces to USA, but the changes would dramatically improve the area's look, he said.

What's required

Several commission members said USA must show that demolition is less expensive than rehabilitating the deck before they grant the permit.

Frangos estimated demolition and building new lots would cost $500,000 to $600,000. He didn't have a rehab number but is sure it far exceeds the proposed project's cost.

Jeffrey L. Chagnot, the city's development director and a design board member, said a rehab job could run $2 million to $2.5 million. That's based on decks at the Phar-Mor Centre and the old Higbee building, which ultimately were torn down. Those decks were built in the 1970s; the Boardman deck was built in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The city is offering USA up to $120,000 toward the project's cost.

Several commission members also wanted to know if, and how, demolition would affect the neighboring buildings.

The board said it will take up questions on the site plan after deciding on the demolition permit. Wednesday, there were questions about the location of entrances, traffic flow within the lots and how the property will be landscaped.

rgsmith@vindy.com




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