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DOWNTOWN City gets building deal done



Published: Fri, April 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city sold the Wick Building for $125,000.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The city agreed to sell a major downtown building while it takes the final steps to acquire the property of another one.

The board of control approved an agreement Thursday to sell the Wick Building on West Federal Street for $125,000 to Youngstown Wick Building Real Estate Partner LLC.

The company is a partnership between USA Parking Systems of Cleveland, which owns several downtown parking lots and the Realty Building, and Pam Brothers Investments, a New York City company that owns the National City Bank Building on Wick Avenue.

The company plans to spend about $375,000 over the next 18 months to improve the 11-story, 60,000-square-foot Wick Building, said city Finance Director David Bozanich, a board of control member.

The Burdman family donated the building to the city in 1994. The city has attempted to sell the building for years, but the best offer it received previously was for $100,000.

"Pam Brothers was looking for inner-city investments, and they settled on Youngstown as a prime market," Bozanich said. "They're putting money into Youngstown, and they are looking at other buildings in the city."

The building is about three-quarters occupied, with the city renting about 12,000 square feet. The biggest problem with the building is one of its two original passenger elevators has needed to be replaced for years, and the cost of that is about $250,000.

The new owners want to put in a new elevator and convert the building into about 30 apartments, Bozanich said. That means its current tenants are going to have to move.

Relocation

The city plans to relocate its economic development department and police department crisis intervention offices from the Wick Building to 20 Federal Place, the former Phar-Mor Centre, also on West Federal Street.

The city took ownership of the 20 Federal Place building a few weeks ago, buying it for less than $10,000 from Strouss Business Associates.

In a few weeks, the city will take ownership of the 20 Federal Place land for about $850,000, buying it from about 30 heirs to the Wick Estate, Bozanich said.

The 71/2-floor building has 400,000 square feet, of which about 350,000 is usable, Bozanich said.

The building's occupancy rate is about 35 percent to 40 percent, and the city plans to spend about $400,000 on improvements to the building, Bozanich said.

The board of control on Thursday hired James and Weaver Inc., a Youngstown company, for $4,875 to make recommendations to enhance the building's concourse, mezzanine and food court areas. The board also entered into a $16,890 contract with Strollo Architects of Youngstown to evaluate the condition of the building's roof. About $200,000 is needed to repair the roof, Bozanich said.

Plans

Once improvements are made to the building, the city plans to sell the structure to a private company, as it did with the Wick Building, Bozanich said.

"We're not private developers," he said. "It will take maybe four to five years to stabilize the building, and then we'll make it available to the private sector. We make buildings viable and then we sell them."

The city is offering space at 20 Federal Place to businesses. The first 18 months of rent is free, and then it goes to $2 a square foot and up to $5 a square foot after 10 years, Bozanich said. Also, large users could receive free parking for its workers, he said.

Also at Thursday's meeting, the board of control agreed to refinance $9.99 million in loans at a cheaper interest rate. The refinancing should take about three weeks to complete, and it will save the city about $250,000, Bozanich said.

The board also approved:

U$96,693 in cost reductions for the city's downtown arena.

UA $91,869 agreement with MS Consultants to have the Youngstown company provide engineering services for the demolition of the former Masters building complex on West Federal Street and replace it with a parking lot.

UAn $81,920 contract with Thomas Fok and Associates to have the Youngstown company provide administration, construction inspection and materials testing for the city's $1.2 million street repaving program.

skolnick@vindy.com




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