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REDEVELOPMENT Warren officials stress importance of having agencies locate downtown



Published: Wed, April 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Loss of agencies from downtown would devastate other businesses, a restaurateur said.

WARREN -- Warren Redevelopment & amp; Planning Corp. is reaching out to three large agencies considering relocations, and urging them to stay in -- or return to -- downtown.

WRAP's board of directors met Tuesday and decided to contact the Social Security Administration, Trumbull County Job and Family Services and Trumbull County Educational Services Center.

All are looking at expiring leases and considering relocations.

"It's obviously important to keep the employees that are presently downtown, downtown," said Mayor Michael O'Brien of keeping the workers, and their income taxes, inside Warren's limits. "It's important to the downtown, and it's critically important to the city."

The Educational Service Center employees, for example, pay about $55,000 annually in city income tax.

Jim Economos, a WRAP trustee and owner of Saratoga Restaurant and Catering, said the loss of Job & amp; Family Services or the Educational Service Center from downtown "would be devastating to the downtown business people."

About the three

Here's what's happening with all three agencies:

UForum Health announced a state-of-the-art radiation oncology department for Trumbull Memorial Hospital, part of its five-year, $102 million expansion in Youngstown and Warren. The oncology center will be constructed across East Market Street from TMH in the building that now houses Social Security Administration offices. Forum bought the building and will eventually occupy all three floors. WRAP and O'Brien are working closely to get the Social Security Administration to come back downtown. For years it had been located in a building on Franklin Street and Elm Road.

UTrumbull County wants to lease 76,000 to 77,000 square feet of office space to house more than 250 employees and also needs 500 parking spaces for the "One Stop Center and Child Enforcement" operation. The current lease with Kleese Development for Job & amp; Family Services offices at 150 S. Park Ave. and 147 W. Market St. expires this year. The county's Child Support Enforcement Agency is now at 106 High St. N.W. in the county-owned Stone Building.

UThere is uncertainty regarding the Trumbull County Educational Service Center's administrative office space in the former Wean building, which is owned by Trumbull County. Under state law, county commissioners are no longer required to provide rent-free space to the center. Depending on further negotiations, there may be a need to acquire new space. The center began paying the county $30,000 in annual rent last year.

Ongoing search

Gil Reiger, WRAP's secretary and a service center board member, said a space search is ongoing and a decision probably isn't imminent. Some 90 people work in the building, with more working in the county's communities.

In the case of the combined county JFS/CSEA building search, no downtown building that WRAP director Anthony Iannucci Jr. is aware of currently offers the needed space. There will have to be some new construction to accommodate keeping the operations downtown, he noted.

The county is now seeking bids for the space.

One of the buildings the city is hoping to fill is the $4 million Gibson Building on East Market Street downtown, which was built in 1997 to state Bureau of Workers' Compensation specifications. The BWC announced two years ago that the agency was moving about 60 of its employees to Youngstown in a cost-saving measure. The combined service center in Youngstown was dedicated last week.




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