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UPSCALE DOWNTOWN Luxury apartments detail heart-of-city location

Published: Sun, November 30, 2008 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Don Shilling

111Momentum is growing even though the $8 million renovation of the downtown building is only halfway completed, said Bill Sperlazza, development project manager for the building owner.

He’s taken about 50 calls from interested people and plans to hold tours once construction is further along.

“We only need 23 people — just 23. It’s not that much,” Sperlazza said.

Construction crews have been working since July to create 23 upscale apartments in what had been a vacant, dilapidated office building on the downtown square. DAS Construction Co. of Cleveland plans to have the work completed by May 29.

Monthly rents will range from $1,400 to $2,300.

Michael Morley, a longtime supporter of downtown, is one of those who has committed to living in the 84-year-old building at Federal and Market streets.

“I think it will be fun and convenient. I look forward to being able to walk to the Chevy Centre, the symphony and the restaurants,” Morley said.

He added that he thinks it is important to support the redevelopment of downtown. Morley, who is an attorney and one of the owners of the Shops at Boardman Park, is the former president of the nonprofit board that oversees much of downtown development and was one of the founders of the Oakland Center for the Arts downtown.

Sperlazza said the apartments are being marketed as upscale units. Each apartment will have at least two baths and two bedrooms, a laundry room and upgraded appliances. The apartments range from 1,215 square feet to 2,057 square feet.

The building also will have a fitness center and a community room for parties.

Plus, the rooms have a view, at least those on the upper floors. Upstairs tenants will have a bird’s-eye view of downtown, plus they will be able to see quite a distance.

“You’re just not going to find this kind of housing anywhere else in downtown Youngstown,” Sperlazza said.

Much work remains to be done before tenants will be able to move in. Drywall has been installed on floors 12 and 13, and crews are now working on 11. Metal framing to support the drywall has been erected on all of the floors.

Mark Gregory, project superintendent for DAS, said the biggest part of the job has been removing what was in the building before. The inside was stripped down to the concrete walls, with interior walls, ceiling tiles and flooring thrown out.

“We won’t even use a wire from the old building,” Sperlazza said. “Water won’t run through a single pipe that was here before.”

The marble walls and floors in the lobby and at the elevator entrance on each floor will be refurbished, however.

Restoration work also has been completed to the exterior, including repairing the terra cotta that was used to shape the outside features of the building.

“If you look outside, you will see 1920s architecture,” said Mike Morrell, project manager for DAS. “Then you come inside, and it will look like 2008.”

Retail shops or a restaurant are planned for the first floor.

Lou Frangos, a Cleveland developer who owns the building, hired DAS for the work because it has rehabilitated several old buildings in Cleveland for residential use.

To renovate the Realty building, Frangos received $3.1 million from federal and state agencies that support the rehabilitation of historic buildings. He also has financing from Key Bank and a no-interest loan from the city. Frangos bought the building for $540,000 in 2000.

The building was erected in 1924 as the home of Realty Guarantee and Trust Co.

Frangos already is planning the renovation of the Wick Building downtown once the Realty building is complete.

Architectural drawings are done, and Frangos and DAS officials have discussed some preliminary budgets, Sperlazza said. He added, however, that there is no timetable for the work. Frangos also owns the Erie Terminal building downtown, which he hopes to develop for residential use.



1CBDactivist(125 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

This is great news, I will be next in line for an apartment.

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2Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

"Monthly rents will range from $1,400 to $2,300."

Sounds reasonable. Will this include an armed guard at the entrance? Can I get a government grant or a high paying political job to cover the rent?

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3CBDactivist(125 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Stan, To your 3 questions
Q #1

A.Downtown is the safest area in the city.

#2 & #3
the answer would be "YES" to both if you have half a brain, do you qualify?

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4Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago


"A.Downtown is the safest area in the city."

Yea,right! I remember a YPD officer was killed not far from the police station. None were ever killed in my neighborhood.

" if you have half a brain, do you qualify?"
I have a full brain am I disqualified?

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5babs68(58 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago


I just was in Youngstown visiting from NC for the holidays, and I am very pleased at what I have seen of the new renovations goingon downtown. My spouse and I felt very safe and secure while going out downtown. I was amazed.

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6city_resident(528 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Crime ridden downtown??? I've heard that downtown is, statistically, the safest place in the entire county, not just the city. But, I can't back that up with a link. I don't find it hard to believe, though.

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7MikePrelee(38 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Downtown is the sfaest area of the city. there have been no homicides in the area for at least the past three years. I've visited the Chevy Center and area restaraunts and never had a problem. Here's a link:


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8George412(161 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the map, Mike. I'm downtown all of the time, day and night, and I feel safer there than at many places in the suburbs, for example, the Southern Park Mall. It seems that the people who are afraid of the downtown area haven't likely set foot in it in 20 or so years. These apartments are another step forward, and I for one applaud it.

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9Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Patrolman Michael Thomas Hartzell died trying to make the downtown safe. He is not forgotten for his sacrifice.



Date of Incident: Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Patrolman Hartzell was shot and killed during a traffic stop in the downtown section of Youngstown, near Powers Auditorium, at 0220 hours. Patrolman Hartzell was returning to headquarters when he made the traffic stop on a vehicle. As the officer was waiting for the results of the license plate check, the driver exited the car and opened fire on Patrolman Hartzell. Patrolman Hartzell was transported to St. Elizabeth's Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds

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10CBDactivist(125 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Why is it that some people just complain, and are negative and do nothing while others are positive, optimistic and put their money where their mouth is, while the na sayers with no vested interst just complain and do nothing to make our city better, others are spending their own money.

To the non believers there are no answers, to the believers, there is no question!

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11CBDactivist(125 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

To the Negative folks that keep bad mouthing our city!

If you can't say something good don't say anything at all!

If you truley care about Younstown, pitch and help!

If you don't care, can you just shut up!

"Alone we can do so little;
together we can do so much."
- Helen Keller

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12Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

"A city is only as good as those who populate it."

Upscale housing is worthless unless you keep tenants. Criminals in town salivitate over victims who have something to steal. Most of our criminals are available 24-7 because of one interesting facet of their existance. They have no real jobs. So you want no criticism of what goes on beyond the halls of upscale housing? The problem is growing by the day and silence will not cure it. How about city leaders spending more effort to generate jobs for those who have none. Utilize some of the vacant industrial buildings to rebuild industrial machinery. Very high prices for new provide a ready market for refurbished. Bring in federal funds to rebuild the houses of the poor. Complaining about blight just wont do it! Set up software development and marketing to be done by training the unemployed. They in turn can train and provide jobs for students graduating from high school to keep them off the streets. Once they start street life out of high school they then become educated in criminal enterprises. Far too many have never filled out an application for employment and wouldn't know where to start. The bottom line is that we should have the city populated with productive people that the city can be proud of.

"Alone we can do so little;
together we can do so much.
- Helen Keller"

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13hockeyjess(10 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

"1,400 - 2,300 a month"...that's a little steep. In fact, that's more than I pay for my mortgage on my house which is larger than these apartments and is in a 'burb. I would have loved to be able to afford one but it now seems that I can't afford to move from the 'burbs back in to Youngstown.

I applaud the effort but I think that the pricing might need to be re-evaluated.

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14scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Unless you're working downtown what is the draw? There is certainly no nightlife to speak of. The Chevy Center can hardly be considered a draw for the handfull of events it hosts. There wasn't even a resturant open in the evenings until a year ago.
Over $100/sq foot to RENT? Why not an upscale condo 20 minutes (or less) away where you can actually sit outside, smell grass and flowers instead of the pugnant remnants of the steel mills from years ago?
Security must be a concern. There may not have been a homicide downtown in years but that's only because nobody goes down there after business hours. Increased traffic will also draw the panhandlers, homeless, and yes, criminals back downtown.
No thanks, I'll stay in my 3000 sq ft home in the 'burbs, pay my $1300 mortgage, take my mortgage deduction, smell the flowers, and live with the 15 minute commute to work (17 with "traffic")

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15scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

For CDBActivist;
Well you said "If you can't say something good don't say anything at all!"

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16scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

10th most dangerous city in the US in 2007. Now THAT will sell....oops....I mean Rent, those apartments!

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17Cbarzak(110 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Obviously, Scrooge, you have not been downtown in a long time. Your perception of it does not match its reality at. all.

ANd Youngstown has gone down on that list to 15th in 2008. Obviously something right is happening here now. You just have to catch up to what's going on, instead of remaining mired in old perceptions. Come down and check the downtown out for yourself. There are many people there after business hours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays now.

Agreed that the apartments are pricey, but I think they will sell to those like Mr. Morley who want to be a valuable addition to the downtown rebirth project, and have the means to be able to do that. There are others like him out there, too.

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18scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

10th to 15th is an accomplishment-----I guess.
Don't get me wrong, I would love to see downtown revitalized. I think the developer has some grand visions with his business model, however this is not Cleveland. There is no draw to living downtown. Maybe 23 people will find it appealing to have the token presence of "living" downtown. My guess is they will maintain thier current suburban (home) address for their family and use the political advantages of a downtown residence for themselves.
Who knows, maybe we'll get casino gambling downtown in which case these guys will look like visionaries.

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19city_resident(528 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

100 apartments in the Realty building would make for rather small units--about 400 sf each. I think you can get bigger studio apartments in downtown Cleveland for less...

There is already low income housing downtown, in the International Tower next door. Because they're low-income, they don't have a lot of disposable income, and so can't really support existing and new downtown businesses.

As far as making Youngstown better, and changing the blight, you've got to start somewhere. And, IMO, the best place is at the center--downtown--the city's face to the world.

"Why not an upscale condo 20 minutes (or less) away where you can actually sit outside, smell grass and flowers..."
If this is important to you, then downtown living probably isn't for you. Where, in the suburbs, can I rent (or buy) a place that's on the 12th floor of an 84 year old building with views of other great old buildings; where I can _walk_ to various entertainment venues and restaurants?

BTW, I moved to the MV about 8 1/2 years ago, and into the city about 6 1/2 years ago. I think the stated rents are too high, but if they were a little less, I'd consider moving downtown. Maybe the apartments in the Wick building will be more modest?

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20CBDactivist(125 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

"You must take personal responsibility.
You cannot change the circumstances,
the seasons, or the wind, but
you can change yourself"
- Jim Rohn

I am still renting one of these apartments myself!

Who knows:

Maybe Kelly Pavlik will move in next door and protect me!

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21projectgeniene(87 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

For the cost of these apartments, I could have stayed in NYC in my 1 bedroom steps from Central Park West! I have to wonder about the pricing structure if he only needs to fill 23 apartments & be in the black. Wouldn't it make more sense to lower the price, possibly attract YSU students or grad students who would frequent any food or beverage establishments downtown? Speaking of which, I guess if you live downtown you have to schlepp to Giant Eagle in Liberty to grocery shop since there are no food resources there. I have to say that with all the financial aid that Fragos was given to purchase and develop this building, he could lower the costs of the rent. As for Morley living there, really? I recall him living in NYC for the last 10 or so years in a sweet apartment (he inherited? If not, those apartments start in the millions) in Gramercy Park with access to the park. You are telling me he's going to be living in Ytown now? Right. As for the view that one is paying for, where is it? Now, I'm all for renovating but make it affordable for people to actually live in the building & don't try to act as if a bedroom apartment is upscale in a town where you can purchase a 4 bedroom house for the same amount.

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22cityguy(109 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

yeah I kind of agree--I think at that rate, maybe he should package them as condos. If he did that, and if there were places to buy groceries, maybe a small dog park, etc., I'd definitely move downtown--but hey I'm still waiting for Smoky Hollow! Although, I'm not sure I'd want a bunch of undergrads in an expensively renovated building--I moved here from a college town, and let's just say most of the undergrads kept some pretty sloppy quarters.

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23projectgeniene(87 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

I wrote about undergrads because I had two cousins from southern Ohio stay at YSU for only 1 year because of the lack of safe student housing areas at the time. It would be enticing to parents (not from our area) who could see a nice building within walking distance of YSU that their children (if the prices were lowered) could afford (but I hear what you are saying about undergrads). Thankfully, the 4 buildings of blight near Stambaugh Auditorium are now gone. Yay!

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24Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago


"I am still renting one of these apartments myself!
Who knows:
Maybe Kelly Pavlik will move in next door and protect me!"

Stay the course and no need for Kelly's protection. I hear that Jay is having a book published that will help you.


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25northsideart(111 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

I think that potential renters should remember that they'll have to deal with a lot of noise and traffic downtown. When you come home from work on Friday in the summer, you'll have to contend with Party on the Plaza while struggling to find a parking spot. Then there are all the various festivals with live music, big crowds, etc. There aren't even any viable grocery stores downtown. What's the closest one? Sparkle on the north side? That's not exactly convenient.

These apartments sound like a good idea for a certain type of person, but I wouldn't move there if you're looking for a quiet place to rest after a long week of work. Those who live on the upper floors will probably be okay, but those on the lower floors facing west will have a hard time. I've noticed that the mayor and a lot of people in Youngstown don't see quiet as a necessary condition of quality living. First and foremost, they believe that a good, loud party is what people want. Taking that perspective is a big mistake, especially when asking for a level of rent that can only be found in hard working, professional people.

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26northsideart(111 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

One more thing, this belief that downtown is the safest place in Youngstown says a lot about the priorities of our current mayor; protect business interests with dedication while allowing residents to continue to wallow in a sub-par existence. At this point, Youngstown basically exists to support YSU and the few small businesses downtown. The current administration appears to have zero interest in helping us create better, safer neighborhoods.

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27cityguy(109 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Hey northsideart: I disagree with your first post but I totally agree with the second!

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28city_resident(528 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

There have been studies that say only about 2% of an area's population are the type that want to live in an urban center/downtown. They understand there will be traffic noise, and excess noise at events. They understand that they won't have a lawn to mow or flowers to smell. And, they like it that way. There are about 650,000 people in the Youngstown metropolitan statistical area, there are about 250,000 people in Mahoning couty, and there are about 75,000 people within the city. 2% of even 75,000 is a lot more than 23.

Until more people start living downtown, why would a grocery store open downtown? (admittedly, a grocery store isn't going to open for 23 people...) Something has to come first. Maybe a lack of a grocery store, and the high monthly rent will mean that my 2% figure is optimistic? But, I don't think it's unimaginable that there are 23 people in the area who are willing to move into the Realty building.

When I first read that downtown was so safe, the current mayor wasn't even elected yet. The city is helping to create better safer neighborhoods. They are currently focusing on the Garden District neighborhood on the west side, the Idora neighborhood on the south side, and the area around Wick Park.

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29Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago



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30Madeithappen(1 comment)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Ok, I grew up, went to YSU and got out as fast as I could. I went back to Y-Town in October to visit my family. Let me tell you, there is nothing I would move back there for. The jobs are minimal with horrible pay, no attractions, run down buildings and un-happy people. Those of you looking into the "Upscale Downtown Luxury apartments" should take your hard earned money, pack your stuff, and move to a place you can start a career, not a job, and enjoy what the world has to offer outside of Youngstown. There really are more options in life then Federal Plaza and the booming 224. Good luck with Youngstown 2010!

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31George412(161 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Madeithappen, It's easy to bash Youngstown, and those who moved away seem particularly fond of this past time. However, what you all seem to forget is that there are young people who decided to stay and raise our children near grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. There is nothing that would make you move back here? There is nothing that would make me take my children away from their grandparents and cousins.

The job market is tough, locally, but there are many of us who are making a decent living in our chosen fields, and we're surrounded by a support system of family and friends.

As for the unhappy people, you'll get no argument from me there, but Youngstown is hardly a standout in this regard. Many people are unhappy these days, probably especially those who feel compelled to post elitist comments about escaping Youngstown.

The downtown luxury apartments are a forward-thinking idea. As I said before, I applaud the move. However, the units do seem somewhat overpriced. All of this is still in the planning stages, and perhaps adjustments will be made.

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32Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago


Sell raffle tickets for one year in the appartments.

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33andersonathan(687 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

1400-2300 to rent? And how far do you have to travel to go to the Grocery store? I have 2 deals for everyone. A deal where you can say I own this someday.

I have 2 newly remodeled houses for sale. 1 is a nice cozy 2 bedroom with many updates in a nice neighbor hood. Hardwood floors in dining room and living room, nice front porch. new tile in kitchen and bath. Bedrooms are pine floor finished natural. Great for a start home or some one wanting to downsize. New high efficient gas heat. Dry basement. Located 4 or 5 blocks past Youngstown Christian School off of Southern Blvd 63,000

The other is a 3-4 bedroom [hardwood floors] bath and a half [tile], finished attic large kitchen[tile] breakfast nook [tile] dining and living room [carpet], huge deck, 1 1/2 car garage. Located off of Catalina Ave. 89,000


You can email me andersonathan@yahoo.com

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34Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

As soon as I get a posh government job like George Tablack's I am going to buy this place in West Virginia for a retirement home !


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35CBDactivist(125 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

I have said from the beginning that I was going to be next to rent one of these apartments. As it turns out I am forth, only 19 remain. There seems to be a lot pf negative hullabaloo going on about these apartments and why many of you won't rent one. I think that there is still some hope that you insist on telling other people what to do, I can't figure out for the life of me why you persist on doing so! If you don't want to rent one no one is forcing you. For those of us who do want to rent one please forgive me for not getting your permission. I have said it before, if you cant say something good about something in our Valley why is it so important to you to be impose your negativity on others. I think deep down in side you were all once believers, it is hard in today's tough economic times to be positive but try it again, for the Valley, for Youngstown and all the suburbs, for you children and grandchildren and for your own positive outlook, it affects everything even done to your mental state and health. Give it a try
you might like it!

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36clayor(281 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

This whole thing is a joke, right?? As for Helen Keller, she was blind, remember......and even if she could see, I doubt that quote would be about Y-Town. Who in their right mind is going to pay that kind of rent to live in downtown Nowhere?? On second thought, how many people have that kind of money to pay for rent? Get real.

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37scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

2 Bedroom townhouse (new) just across the river from NYC and walking distance to the train, $1950/month
3 Bedroom loft in Chicago-newly remodeled with parking, $2250/ month.
Downtown Cleveland-warehouse district-2 bedrom loft newly remodeled, $1100 month.

See a patern? Sure we'd love to one day be just like those larger cities (yep-even Cleveland) but the fact is that we are no were near. This project is 20-30 yrs premature, if ever. I doubt this developer would have been so willing to proceed if it weren't for the "free" money from us.
Aside from the politicians with hidden agendas, who else would move into an overpriced, dying (if not dead) city?
Ever seen the city from 10 floors up? YUCK!!

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38scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Amen brother, nothing left to add
well said

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39luvsdogs(70 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Do they allow dogs?

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40andersonathan(687 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

I don't think everyone is negative but more realistic.

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41UrbanWolff(10 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Downtown living can work, even in a place like Youngstown. However, "Monthly rents will range from $1,400 to $2,300" is NOT the way to start encouraging people to live in downtown Youngstown. This is poor planning on the part of the developers. To start to encourage people to live downtown, rents should start at $775 - $1550?

Don't believe it can work? That's exactly how is started in downtown Buffalo. The first few apartment buildings created via adapted reuse started between $675 - $1500. Now you have a range of units available in downtown Buffalo from $700 - $2500 a month.

The City of Buffalo and the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture and Urban Planning created a downtown master plan acknowledging that downtown Buffalo could absorb about 375 new apartments a year - but you need to know how to price the initial apartments.

Check out http://urbandesignproject.ap.buffalo.... to see the master plan for Downtown Buffalo.

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42acquireu(2 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

To all of you with negative comments. This thought process of your is exactly why Youngstown is in the shape that it is in. The glass is always half empty!
All of you with the negative comments, why don’t you actually do something to make the city a better place to live? It seems to me the best you can do is complain about any attempt at progress. Maybe these apartments are not for you? Fine, don’t move into one!
However, at least someone has enough pride in our city to try and make a difference. We live in a place that has so much potential! We live in a strategic location. Our cost of living is “embarrassingly low”. We have some beautiful parks and residential areas. We have an infrastructure that could be put back to use at any time. We have so much going for us.
The one thing we lack is attitude. Where are the forward thinkers? Where are the entrepreneurs? Why our attitude is; “that will never work” rather than “let’s make this happen” is a mystery to me.

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43scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Aquireu, the cities problem is that the forward thinkers have all left town. Our political machine has stagnated any positive growth for so long that even the most progressive people have given up hope. We do need fresh blood to shake things up around here but instead the same tired names get re-elected year after year.

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44clayor(281 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

You got it Lost, the more things change, the more they stay the same.....as it is in Y-Town.

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45aholamio(3 comments)posted 7 years, 7 months ago

Give the monkeys a year or two and they will be rundown and smelling like piss. The rent will be 300.00 a month.

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