WICK POLLOCK INN MBA students serve up ideas for reopening

One plan would bring a convenience store into the inn.
YOUNGSTOWN -- As Youngstown State University business students shared their ideas for reopening the Wick Pollock Inn, YSU President David C. Sweet compared the event to visiting a smorgasbord.
"The beauty of a presentation like this is that it's like going to a smorgasbord," he noted. "There's an idea here and an idea there. Now we test the ideas in the harsh world of economic reality."
Sweet attended presentations Friday of three groups of students in the YSU executive master of business administration program.
The president has said a goal of his is to reopen the century-old inn on Wick Avenue with a 50-room hotel, a catering/restaurant facility and a complex for the YSU hospitality management academic program.
But the YSU students have a few different ideas.
Among the ideas are suites for special guests, executive suites, a retirement center, student housing, a convenience store and a workshop and craft school that would offer weekend seminars by nationally recognized instructors.
Excited about involvement
"We, as students, can take a lot of pride in being part of the renaissance of Youngstown," said Joseph Caruso, assistant Mahoning County administrator. Caruso, as an MBA student, was on a team that suggested a guest house, conference rooms and student housing with dining services.
Brian Martorana of Howland said working on a project that has the potential of becoming reality makes the work more rewarding for the students, who want to see the university and the downtown area do well.
"Most of us have lived in this area so there are some emotions involved," he said. "We have a real-life project where there's emotion and passion and feeling."
Sweet said he was open to the student suggestions.
"A vision begins with a concept, then you have to work out the details," he said. "I have a vision and what we're trying to do is use this as a sounding board to refine that vision."
The president said moving ahead with plans for the inn will become his top priority once fund raising has been completed for the $12 million Andrews student Recreation and Wellness Center.
Chose inn for project
The MBA students have been working on their plans since January, said Dr. James M. Kohut, chairman of the marketing department at YSU's Williamson College of Business Administration. He said they chose to focus on the Wick Pollock Inn because of the success of student apartments in that area, as well as the resurgence of downtown and the planned convocation center.
"I think they're right on target. They've done a lot of research," he said. "The proposals are unique and I think they fulfill the needs of the community. I think that's the key. They're not just putting something out there that looks good, but it's something good for the community."
Sweet said he expects that a settlement in a lawsuit between YSU and the First National Bank of Pennsylvania regarding the inn should be finalized within weeks.
Though YSU owns the inn, FNB holds a lien on a 64-room addition built in the late 1980s by a partnership that leased the space from YSU. The partnership closed the inn in 1998, citing waning business, and the building has been vacant ever since.

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