Construction could start as early as this month.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The grandson of Belleria Pizza's founders plans to move the East Side location closer to Youngstown State University, Ursuline High School and downtown.
The East Side restaurant has operated since 1977 at 1535 Logan Ave., a 2,000-square-foot former tire business. Mike Liberado, the restaurant owner, purchased property on Wick Avenue, across the street from Ursuline.
"We don't get much college business," he said. "We want to be closer to downtown and the college. We also expect to get the Ursuline High School crowd. We want to make the place nice and build it up."
The property was owned by the Buckeye Elks, which used the site years ago as a youth center. The site is currently vacant and had a tax lien of about $16,000, which Liberado paid.
The city board of control on Wednesday approved a Youngstown/Small Business Administration deal with Liberado, who is planning to invest $330,000 in the new restaurant. Of that amount, $293,000 is for excavating and building the 4,000-square-foot structure. The rest is for equipment. The deal calls for the city to give a $49,500 performance grant to Liberado. He will also receive a 75 percent tax abatement, a waiver of permit fees and a facade grant. Cortland Bank's Boardman branch is handling the financing.
T. Sharon Woodberry, the city's development officer and program director for the SBA initiative, said it's hard to determine how much money Liberado will save until the building is finalized and its worth properly determined. Liberado, 33, said the current building, which he bought in 1997, has serious structural issues.
"It would be too costly to repair it," he said. "It's easier to buy something new. I could go anywhere, but I wanted to stay in the city."