McConnell is a YSU graduate.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A Mahoning Valley businessman wants to develop a plan to save the Wick Pollock Inn.
Donn McConnell, who along with his brothers operates Hubbard Lumber Inc., on West Liberty Street, Hubbard, said he's trying to put together a team to reopen the inn, which closed in November 1998.
McConnell was invited to attend a Mahoning County Convention and Visitor's Bureau meeting Tuesday, and shared his vision with that body.
"The building has potential," said McConnell, especially with the Youngstown Convocation Center, being built between the South Avenue and Market Street bridges, slated to open in the city's downtown in November. The inn is north of downtown and across from Youngstown State University.
McConnell, a YSU alumnus, envisions the inn catering to parents who bring their children to the university. He said it could also provide rooms for visiting teams playing against YSU or the Youngstown Steelhounds, the Central Hockey League team which will play its home games at the convocation center.
YSU officials broke off talks with a Cleveland company two weeks ago to redevelop the inn.
Forming an alliance
The news that McConnell was interested in trying his hand at developing the inn was welcomed by George McCloud, YSU's special assistant for university advancement. He is also a CVB board member.
"YSU has been looking for someone to partner with to operate the Wick Pollock Inn," he said. "YSU wants it to open and stay open. We want a sustainable business relationship."
In 2004, the university reached an agreement with First National Bank of Pennsylvania in which YSU acquired the lease of the property from FNB, which had a lien on the inn's 64-room addition. YSU owns the building and the land.
McConnell said he proposes to develop a team of operators that would include food service and transportation to and from the inn.
The plan would use the YSU student body to service the inn, and it also would specifically target students involved in the university's hospitality management major.
He also would like to have the inn and its parking lot well-lighted for safety purposes. He said there is still a perception for some that areas near downtown Youngstown are unsafe.
He said the inn has the potential for 80 rooms. He said the slate roof needs to be repaired or replaced, as well as some of the windows.
The key is getting the necessary financing to make the repairs and getting a handle on those costs, McConnell said.