Panel favors sale of downtown buildings

The full committee will vote next week.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The downtown redevelopment agency's property committee is recommending its full board move ahead with the sale of three downtown buildings to a company even if the business's $1.7 million project is a failure.
The Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp.'s property committee voted 4-2 Tuesday in favor of the recommendation. The full board meets to act on the recommendation next Tuesday.
P & amp;P Development wants to buy three vacant buildings on West Federal Street -- the Wells Building, the Armed Forces building and the State Theater -- from the CIC for $24,000, the appraised value of the properties. Discussions between the company and the CIC have been ongoing for more than 18 months.
P & amp;P plans to spend $1.7 million to improve the Wells Building with a restaurant, retail stores, office space and about five high-end studio apartments. The company also plans to keep the facades of the two other buildings, demolish the rest and use that space for parking.
P & amp;P has a loan commitment letter from Key Bank for $1 million, and the company will pay the remainder of the project's cost, said Jason Whitehead, CIC executive director.
However, there is confusion as to a reverter clause in the proposed deal between the CIC and P & amp;P. If the project fails, the CIC wants to reclaim the three buildings.
Edwin Romero, CIC legal counsel, said he understands that the Key Bank commitment letter doesn't permit the CIC to reclaim the buildings in such a scenario. The concern is P & amp;P could purchase the property, and then do nothing with it.
However, John Dellick, P & amp;P's attorney, said the bank has no problem with a reverter clause.
The confusion will be cleared up by next week's board meeting, Whitehead said.
Taking a chance
Councilmen Artis Gillam Sr., D-1st, and Richard Atkinson, R-3rd, members of the CIC's property committee, said it didn't matter if the clause is in the contract. The proposal has been kicked around for far too long, and it's time to let P & amp;P move ahead, they said.
"Let's take a chance," Gillam said. "All we've had down there is dilapidated buildings. The buildings are still deteriorating. We need to get this show on the road."
Atkinson said as long as P & amp;P purchases the buildings from the CIC for the asking price, there should be no reason why the agency should have the right to get them back if the project doesn't succeed.
Others didn't agree.
"At this phase, they haven't selected a contractor and we don't have a solid figure on the cost," said G. Richard Pavlock, CIC president and senior vice president at First Place Bank.
Pavlock and James Miller, president of Midwest Safety Systems, voted against the recommendation.
Besides Gillam and Atkinson, the other yes votes came from city Water Commissioner Charles Sammarone and Paul Harkey, Ohio Edison's area manager.

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