By ELISE FRANCO
City professionals plan to fight for preservation of the Stambaugh Building.
YOUNGSTOWN — A letter drafted by 17 prominent players in the development and preservation of the city’s downtown was sent to Mayor Jay Williams on Tuesday, requesting that the Stambaugh Building be properly cared for.
Property co-owner Lou Frangos has been required to secure all windows, after a glass window fell from the 13-story building onto the sidewalk Thursday afternoon. To do so, plans to remove all windows from the building and cover the openings with plywood or plastic have been set in motion.
The letter to Williams voices concerns about whether Frangos has proper long- and short-term plans to secure the building. They fear he has no real plans for the building, and that mistreatment of the historical site will lead to its dilapidation.
“It appears to these authors that removing the windows in their entirety from this structure and replacing them with plastic film sets the stage for slow-motion decay, leading to calls of blight and eventual demolition,” it reads. “We certainly hope this is not the case. We are alarmed at the uncertain fate of all these buildings and the indifference shown by the players in the real-life Monopoly game that is occurring in our downtown.”
Several community members who signed the letter voiced their opinions on Dan Rivers’ Talk Radio 570 WKBN on Tuesday morning.
Richard E. Mills, president of Ohio One Corporation, said it’s impossible for the Frangos Group to deem the building unsafe until a proper inspection has taken place.
“I didn’t consider removal of the windows an option,” he said. “It is irresponsible. ... What they are doing is a flagrant display of disregard for the law in every sense of the word, from public safety to building codes to city officials.”
Frangos has in the past acknowledged that the building, located on West Federal Plaza, seems to be a lost cause. He said Stambaugh would make a great hotel site but would cost upward of $15 million to renovate. He and Platia Square LLC, a New York City company, bought the property in 2006 for $1.15 million.
Williams, who also phoned into Rivers’ program, said Frangos is being required to put together a plan for the building that he will present to city officials this week.
“I share in the concern of the condition of the building, and it’s a top priority,” he said. “It’s not acceptable to have a building of this significance boarded up.”
Williams said if the proposal from the Frangos Group doesn’t meet what city officials feel are acceptable guidelines to maintaining the Stambaugh Building, the Frangos proposal will be revised.
Mills said he is glad to see the city on the side of those who wrote the letter.
“I hope [Mayor Williams] has the chutzpah to maintain that position when he actually meets with the Frangos Group,” he said.
Mills said he thinks 17 signatures on the letter is a solid number considering it was drafted Monday, and he encourages concerned citizens to support the cause and sign as well.
“I think it’s the start of a groundswell to get the Frangos Group’s attention,” Mills said. “They can’t show this kind of arrogance in Youngstown, Ohio.”