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Plans for building arouse concern

Published: Wed, June 11, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.


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.”



1tylersclark(182 comments)posted 8 years ago

This is the most important issue in Youngstown right now. Where is the Vindicator's voice in raising concern on the Editorial page about the Frangos group management of the Stambaugh property? Until this building is secured, there should be a picture of the windowless building on the front page every day asking "Where are the windows?" We will not tolerate this building to fall into disrepair due to negligence.

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2JudyAC(2 comments)posted 8 years ago

I agree with Tyler - Youngstown, against all odds, is poised to reinvent itself through a revitalized downtown area. As an ex-pat who lives in the region I have become a Youngstown cheerleader because of the civic engagement and dedication of Youngstown's thriving arts and tech community.

The current state of Stambaugh Building is a major issue to the quality of the downtown area. I agree with Richard Mills people have to speak up to let Frangos know they cannot treat the city with such arrogance.

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3accentmedia(3 comments)posted 8 years ago

What point is it to declare a landmark of historical value, if you can do with it, what you like, that takes away from it's historical charm and/or look. Plastic sheeting and plywood, if that is the final plan for the Frangos Group, is poorly thought out at best, and a calling card to urban blight. I truly hope that Mayor Williams take Mr. Frangos to task for a detailed plan of what is to happen, and an enforceable timetable as well.

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4Cbarzak(110 comments)posted 8 years ago

It would be nice if we could get several articles with several different points of view on this subject the way we got three or four days worth of Kelly Pavlik news last week. This is the stuff that anyone engaged with their community wants to know about so that we can respond to the problem properly. It's a shame that we have out of town landlords like Frangos who don't truly want to invest in the properties they hold here, or worse: who seem to want to make things here worse.

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5jonnyquest(20 comments)posted 8 years ago

Hopefully the Stambaugh Building will not only survive, but THRIVE! Somehow I feel Mr. Frangos' plan which will be unveiled on Friday will be woefully inadequate based on his track record downtown. The man makes his money off parking lots, and in my opinion, that is why he purchased land downtown in the first place. Nothing he says will change my opinion. I read that he also owns the Paramont Theater which has been left to rot away. Frangos is not only an obstacle in the way of revitalization, he and his company are deadbeats with no vision.

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6tylersclark(182 comments)posted 8 years ago

Some important recommendations have been drafted by a working group and proposed to the city for this and other future incidents. You can read the Recommended Action Plan (draft) for Stambaugh Building Stabilization here: http://blog.tylersclark.com/2008/06/s...

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7bonbitz(1 comment)posted 8 years ago

I agree with accentmedia. What's the point of having it be a historical landmark if you can simply hammer up some plywood instead of properly taking care of our city's history? I'm curious how Mr. Frangos thinks he's going to sell his luxury apartments in the Realty Building when those people are going to be looking out the window at plywood and plastic? This infuriates me to no end!

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8lucy(135 comments)posted 8 years ago

We need to respect our history. Stambaugh is an historic building in our historic downtown. I understand the need for safety, but boarding up the windows is unacceptable. I cringe when I see all of the plywood window along Market and Glenwood.

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9cityguy(109 comments)posted 8 years ago

Finally! And talk about arrogance--he didn't pay his taxes because he thought they were too high?! I didn't know we had that option...but seriously, exactly who decided that it was a good idea to bankroll this man's purchase of virtually every developable structure in the downtown district? Where and when on Friday is the meeting taking place? I'd like to be there.

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10jcrews(7 comments)posted 8 years ago

I've moved to Youngstown because of the rich history and heritage. It must be preserved!

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11hmac76(2 comments)posted 8 years ago

I would like to applaud the city for taking a stand against the arrogant and destructive actions of this property owner. I have signed the petition, read the Recommended Action Plan and eagerly await the outcome of tomorrow's meeting between the Mayor, his staff and Mr. Frangos. Buildings are like people; you'd be surprised how quickly they deteriorate when they are denied care and attention.

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12PaulHagman(9 comments)posted 8 years ago

I also have to applaud the City for their actions. I was very encouraged to hear Mayor Williams felt very strongly about the situation when he phoned into the Dan Rivers Show. This problem is not insurmountable and, as a community, I am quite confident that we will correct it. "Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility."

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13JanKo(10 comments)posted 8 years ago

The Kress Building is a very good example of how a structure, when not protected by its owners, can quickly fall into a state of blight.

But blight does not equal worthlessness.

Unfortunately, this structure will now need more funds for its renovation than if it would have been properly mothballed by the current owners.

But the Kress is a very good case study of what can happen to the Stambaugh building if nothing is done soon. Water causes enormous damage to a building in a very short time.

would The Todd consider me a "downtown brickhugger"?

- viva los brickhuggers!

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14bellab(5 comments)posted 8 years ago

Honestly it seems like you people and the city have nothing else to do. Why don't you worry about crime on the streets and other important issues other than windows being temporary removed.

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15hmac76(2 comments)posted 8 years ago

Actually, bellab, this situation is extremely relevant to the economic health of the City of Youngstown.

Like the Stambaugh, historic and aesthetic buildings in a walkable downtown directly contribute to a city's quality of life - they attract both workers and residents, thereby increasing the city's tax base. Without those tax funds, the provision of basic services (including police and fire protection, street repair and trash pickup) are impaired.

You cannot address crime in the city without an adequate number of trained officers. And without an adequate tax base, you cannot pay for those officers. So you see, all of the issues regarding the health of this city are connected - one cannot turn a blind eye to one problem while trying to solve another.

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16bellab(5 comments)posted 8 years ago

All the articles that I have been reading about Mr. Frangos and his company, It seems like to me that Mr. Frangos feels really strong about Youngstown and improving the city, he’s putting up Apartments and trying to help the city grow. It’s not something that would happen over night. What about other property owners that aren’t doing anything with their buildings???

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17PaulHagman(9 comments)posted 8 years ago

Good point about the other property owners, bellab. This really is a systemic problem, and not necessarily a case of one poor landlord. Everyone in the Central Business District needs to be held to a high standard of maintenance; even moreso when the buildings they own are on the National Register of Historic Places. Without strict, enforceable standards, owners have no incentive, positive or negative, to maintain their properties. Negative incentives (i.e. fines) can be just as successful as positive ones in encouraging landlords to maintain their property properly.

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18cityguy(109 comments)posted 8 years ago

Maybe Old Man Grump and Big George Thomas should move in together and just live out their lives tearing things down--newsflash--paying attention to the Stambaugh is a city improvement issue. Windows are certainly not the most important topic in Ytown but most people are capable of dealing with more than one issue at a time--and as you can see this has lead to a discussion of owner responsibility city wide--honestly, have you ever posted anything other than negative rants either here or on the Tribtoday site? Bitter much?

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19Mary(3 comments)posted 8 years ago

If only every Youngstown property owner would treat the city with the respect that Rich Mills and the entire team at Ohio One does. I am proud to work in one of their buildings.

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20mag08(4 comments)posted 8 years ago

What is Mary (6/18/08) talking about? What has Rich mills done to deserve respect as a landlord? My understanding is that he inherited all his buildings, he didn't purchase them and what has he renovated back to life - he owned the Liberty Paramount for years and did nothing with it. Seems to me all Rich Mills is good at is bad mouthing other Youngstown Property owners!! - What's up with that? He doesn't even know what he is talking about!!!

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21mag08(4 comments)posted 8 years ago

It's great to finally see some passion from the people in Youngstown, but you people don't have the correct information. The Frangos Group does not have to restore the bulidng just becasue it is a historic landmark. They could do whatever they want with it. They own it! they could demolish it -but they aren't. They never were going to demolish it. That rumor was started by RICH MILLS! And Rich Mills doesn't know anything!! The Frangos Group purchased property that no one else wanted or did anything about. The Realty Building Tower is going to be beautiful -it's that start of bringing life back to a dead city. Open your eyes people, if you have something to say make sure you know the facts first. What if Mr. Frangos packed up and left town ---where would your City be? Who else is going to bring your City back to life...Rich Mills ...is he really going to spend his money??? The Federal and state tax credit money you don't get till the job is completed ...you have to spend your own money first!!!!

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22city_resident(528 comments)posted 8 years ago

mag08, you are right about Rich Mills once owning the Paramount, though I don't know all the facts behind that. How long ago did he get rid of it? What was its condition while he owned it?

Anyway, what I think Mary was saying is that Rich Mills takes very good care of the buildings he currently owns. Can you provide an example to the contrary?

Also, I don't believe that Mr. Mills started any rumor. Many people came to this conclusion on their own.(including me) Mr. Frangos is known in the Cleveland area as a parking lot developer, after all. Because he has since said otherwise, I'm willing to take Mr. Frangos on his word that he will be stabilizing the Stambaugh building, and I'm thrilled.

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23CBDactivist(125 comments)posted 7 years, 12 months ago

When will it end??
Why is Federal Plaza still closed?
We have seen demonstrated that Frangos has workers at the Stambaugh, and the Realty Building construction crews and Guess what? We are Still bashing him and his company USA Parking,? The Frangos Group,? and just about everyone that parks in the deck downtown?
It has been over over four weeks now--the Stambaugh Building windows can't still be the reason! OPEN THE STREET ! The city allowed the Friday night party on the Plaza to take place, and beer, wine and drunks on the street right in front of the Stambaugh building--that was a much bigger safety concern? Come on, open the street!
I must agree with the letter to the editor by Caliope Gialousis: Frangos has gotten a lot of criticism, nuch just overkill! He said he has no intention of demolishing the building-- why wasn't that taken at face value? He said that the original plan to board up the window was temporary. The street should never have been closed down, or, at best, should have been reopened within days of boarding the windows up. It makes no sense to have done anything but have accepted what Frangos said that he he took the action for safety reasins because windows were falling out and dangers, the city officials admit seeing one fall in front of them, what would his motivation have been to just wake up one day and say lets take out these perfectly good windows that are fine, just to spend some money? J
The rush to judgment by those who hoped on the bandwagon of some misguided, jealous, critics was truly ridiculous. Someone said, “Who would want to live next to boarded up windows?” EXACTLY, Frangos is doing a multimillion dollar project at the Realty Building, right next door. He has more to lose from permanently boarded up windows than all the folks combined that jumped on the bandwagon to cast blame and spread rumors. How did the Frangos organization, which has and continues to invest in Youngstown, all of a sudden become bad for the city? Wake up, and get off THE BANDWAGON going nowhere. What happened to “If you can't say something good don't say anything at all.”--especially if you really care for Youngstown. I still get into my parking spot in the most conveinent parking deck in town.

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24lisa123636(1 comment)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

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This is the most important issue in Youngstown right now. All the articles that I have been reading about Mr. Frangos and his company, It seems like to me that Mr. Frangos feels really strong about Youngstown and improving the city, he’s putting up Apartments and trying to help the city grow. It’s not something that would happen over night.
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