By DAVID SKOLNICK
The city plans to file a civil lawsuit shortly against the owners of the PNC Bank Building downtown, which has had scaffolding in front of the structure for more than two years, Mayor Jay Williams said.
The scaffolding was supposed to be down months ago, he said.
“It’s gone beyond a reasonable period of time,” Williams said. “Whatever they need to do to remove the scaffolding they need to do.”
A city-issued permit allowing the scaffolding to remain expired Jan. 24, said Brenda Williams, the city’s chief building official.
No one from Park South Development Co. LLC, the Youngstown company that owns the building, or Pan Brothers Associates, Park South’s parent company in New York City, has sought an extension, she said.
“It’s been up for too long, and that’s why we’re going to take legal action,” she said.
Anita Atheneos, property manager for Park South in Youngstown, referred comment to David Rizzuto, the director of operations and finance for Pan Brothers.
Rizzuto didn’t return telephone calls from The Vindicator on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
But Brenda Williams said an architect working for Pan Brothers called her to discuss work to the building on the corner of Wick Avenue and Commerce Street.
Shortly after Park South purchased the building for $4.5 million in February 2005, winds caused two pieces of granite on the exterior of the structure’s Wick Avenue side to fall onto the roof of a lower part of the building.
Engineers, hired for insurance purposes, told the building’s owner in late 2007 that other panels could also fall.
In May 2008, Park South contacted the city about the granite falling and put up the scaffolding as a safety precaution.
Nothing was done to remove the scaffolding because the building’s owner and its insurance company, the Cincinnati Insurance Co., are in litigation about which party is responsible for the cost of the improvement work.
That lawsuit may not be resolved until 2012, Atheneos said last year.
But in September 2009, Atheneos said despite the lawsuit, the building’s owner would spend more than $1 million to improve its exterior.
“Completing the facade repairs and removing the scaffolding and sidewalk shed is our top priority at this time,” she said at the time.
That was to be done in conjunction with changing the 24,305-square-foot, nine-story structure’s name from the National City Bank Building to the PNC Bank Building. That included placing four PNC Bank signs on the 90-year-old downtown structure.
PNC purchased National City Bank on Dec. 31, 2008, and had all of the branches renamed PNC on Nov. 9, 2009.
The company had a permit that expired Jan. 24 to finish the other exterior improvements, including securing the building’s granite.
“They were looking at various ways to repair the building, but they’ve done nothing,” Brenda Williams said.
City Prosecutor Jay Macejko said Youngstown officials are gathering information for a lawsuit.
“Do something,” he said. “Either fix the building and the scaffolding comes down, or tell us there is no threat to public safety and get the scaffolding out of there.”
Jay Williams said city officials and others who see the scaffolding as an eyesore want this matter resolved.
“We’ve not received the remedy we required,” he said. “We’ve been more than reasonable. We’ll file in the next couple of weeks. They can come to us during the legal action and tell us how it will be remedied. But we can’t idly sit by while the dispute goes on between the insurance company and the building owner. It could go on for years.”
And it’s already been too long, Williams said.