The studios will open early next year.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
CITY HALL REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The new owners of three local radio stations are moving the studios from the East Side to downtown.
The city's board of control approved a five-year lease Thursday for 2,900 square feet for Bernard Ohio LLC, a Dallas company, on the ground floor of 20 Federal Place, the former Phar-Mor Centre on West Federal Street.
The company obtained the three stations in March at a bankruptcy auction. The stations -- two AM stations, WASN, the home of "The Louie Free Show," and WGFT; and an FM station, WRBP -- were owned by Stop 26-Riverbend.
Percy Squire, a Columbus attorney with strong ties to the Mahoning Valley, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition with a federal court in July 2004 listing 23.25 million in outstanding debt. Squire was a principal in Stop-26 Riverbend.
Bernard Ohio will pay 13,775 annually in rent to the city.
The studios should be open by the early next year.
Had to move
The stations operated out of the Wick Building, near 20 Federal Place, until the city sold the building to private investors who plan to turn the structure into high-end apartments and condominiums.
Since being asked to leave the Wick Building, the stations operated out of trailers on the East Side, near its radio towers.
The city-owned 20 Federal Place is about 60 percent occupied, said Jeffrey Chagnot, Youngstown's economic development director.
Also, city officials are making repairs to the building after an electric problem with an exhaust fan on the second floor caused a fire Oct. 14, Chagnot said. Most of the damage was created by water from a sprinkler after the fire started, he said.
The damage to the building is about 18,000. The fire was in office space rented by Ray Simon Artists. The preliminary damage estimate was 180,000. Chagnot said he didn't know the value of the Ray Simon Artists' property damaged in the fire.