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Plans unveiled for historic downtown building

Published: Sat, October 16, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.


Dominic Gatta III, left, shows U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles D-17th, plans for apartments on the second floor of the Federal Building. The Gatta Co. of Niles is in the process of renovating the Youngstown landmark..


The $2.4 million renovation will preserve the historic integrity of the 108-year-old structure. Pictured is some of the building's original trim lines. The developers have received a state historic-preservation tax credit for the project.


Vernon Cesta




Downtown’s historic Federal Building is getting a second chance at life.

Vernon’s Cafe, a popular Niles eatery, will open a new restaurant on the ground floor next year as part of a major renovation of the Youngstown landmark.

The Gatta Co., a Niles-based commercial real-estate concern, unveiled plans for the $2.4 million project Friday, giving city and state officials a tour of the early stages of construction.

The Federal Building renovation will be a major step in the transformation of downtown Youngstown, said Dominic Gatta III, a partner in the company.

“The building, when complete, will serve as a model for what can happen in Youngstown,” he said. “Hopefully it will spur others to do the same.”

The project, which received a $445,884 state historic-preservation tax credit, will maintain the integrity of the 108-year-old building, Gatta said.

The new restaurant — V2 Wine Bar Trattoria by Vernon — will cater primarily to people working downtown, said owner Vernon Cesta.

“We want to capitalize on the lunch crowd and maybe try to do something later at night,” he said. “We’re just going to try and work hard at it and hopefully make it work.”

V2 will offer an abridged version of the Vernon’s Cafe menu, he said.

In addition to the restaurant, the new Federal Building will feature residential apartments on the four upper floors.

Each floor will have two 900-square-foot, two-bedroom apartments and a 600-square-foot studio apartment, Gatta said. The two-bedroom units will rent for $900 per month, and the studios will go for $600 a month, he said.

The lack of nearby residential services, such as grocery stores or laundromats, is a concern, Gatta said. The nearest supermarket — the Sparkle Market on Belmont Avenue — closed last month.

Residential services likely will spring up as more people move downtown, said T. Sharon Woodberry, Youngstown’s director of economic development. She added that “discussions are taking place” for a grocery store to replace the Union Square Sparkle Market but would not give further details.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, lauded the Gatta Co. and Vernon’s for their investment in the community.

“We have a great local company with a great local restaurant looking to make things work downtown,” Ryan said. “This is another great day in Youngstown.”

Renovations are expected to be completed by early 2011, he said.

The Federal Building’s three retail tenants — Steel Town Studios, Aulis Alterations and Hootenanny Vintage Guitars — will remain open during the construction.


1Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Shut up, Justice. You are disgusting, saying things like "Get with reality lady." By the way, there should be a comma between Get with reality, and lady. But I don't expect uneducated people to know that, really.

People are not avoiding driving through Youngstown. I just spent a night downtown tonight, and there were hundreds of people there. Maybe YOU are avoiding Youngstown, and maybe YOU should speak ONLY for YOURSELF. The downtown isn't dangerous. People like you, who talk your blah blah blah talk, make it seem dangerous. Go AWAY. You're as bad as the people who commit the crimes. You perpetuate them, out of context. A crime in and of itself.

YOU are the savage, you nasty piece of business. GO AWAY AND MAKE A LIFE FOR YOURSELF ELSEWHERE. LEAVE US ALONE!!!!

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2Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago


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3lemongrovecafe(18 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

nice tigerlily! People like that (which make these messages posts unbearable to read) can stay in the burbs! Now for those that want to experience culture a little more authentic than Applebee's, come downtown.

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4Billybob21(96 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I hate to say it but the revival of youngstown has died. I use to be one all for the downtown and all the bussiness down there. I was even going to move downtown. But unfortuantly justice is right. People are afraid and even avoiding youngstown at all. I use to drive downtown all the time i know avoid youngstown completly. I can not wait to move out of this area. There is nothing in this area worth staying for other then family. There are no jobs and the cop in most of mahoning county could careless so crime is starting to take over once crime is lowered and some jobs are created then maybe i will reconsider but my opinion to anyone wanting to move to this area is Stay away and everyone in this area get away before its too late.

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5Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago


"I can not wait to move out of this area."

There is no paradise. It's the same no matter where you live.

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6Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Tigerlily :

"The downtown isn't dangerous."

I can see that ! The gunfire erupting behind the police station is no big deal .

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7lee(544 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Censoredship you are right,but it is getting harder every day to find business that do not take Govt. hand outs. I have bought Chevy's all my life but I will not buy another. If this restaurant was good enough and in a good location it would not need to feed from the Govt. pig sty

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8Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Mar 7, 2010 ... There's been robberies downtown. Downtown is SOMEWHAT but not FAR ... in Youngstown, Ohio with gunfire erupting behind the police station ...


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9WarrenRicheyKid(169 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

This is a great use of tax payer money. Everyone benefits from a revived downtown. Thanks to the congressman and orhers who made this possible. Can't wait to have lunch at Vernon's cafe in Youngstown.

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10Silence_Dogood(1655 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Fifth Ave. as a matter of fact just LAST MONTH there was a rape Downtown. It was in the Vindy, but I guess we remember only the things we want to remember, we see only the things we want to see.
Ditto for muggings, beatings and shootings. All have been reported and listed in the Vindy. You must read the rosie colored version that only comes out on happy days.

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11Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

The drug dealers are eyeing up the development for consumption and possible housing while the drug users are eyeing up what can be solicited ( AKA ROBBED ) from the occupants . Everybody will be a winner on this project . It's all good with riches coming to the hood !

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12Silence_Dogood(1655 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Just one example less then one month ago.


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13southsidedave(5183 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Not much crime exits in downtown now because there are not many businesses that are open in the evenings.

However, the more restaurants and bars that stay open in the evenings, more drug dealers and their assorted henchmen will come out of the woodwork to wreck havoc upon law-abiding citizens.

"Build it and the criminals will surely come"

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14WarrenRicheyKid(169 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Some of the moaners here never saw a war they didn't like, who were cheerleaders for invasions without limits of foreign countries and for nation building anywhere on the globe except in their own hometown Youngstown. And they begrudge a few federal bucks to local entrepreneurs. Shame on you. 

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15Silence_Dogood(1655 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

The link is for a map of crime for the year 2006 compiled by YSU. Granted it is a few years out of date, but things have not changed as much as you might suggest.
Pay note to the downtown area, it looks as bad as the heart of the southside, a place that your name suggests you are well aquainted with.
Be safe, and have a nice day.


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16GoPens(397 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I've been reading comments on Vindy.com for a couple of months now and out of your 5387 comments, I've yet to read one that wasn't being critical or just down-right nasty about someone or something in Y-town. All I can picture of you is some 80 year old grumpy old man who finally discovered how to use the internet and found some way to vent his bigoted, 1920 viewpoints. If you're that miserable here, please do the rest of us a favor who try and make the Valley a decent place to live and just move your azz out of here.

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17Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

GoPens :

So you want to shelter the decay of Youngstown ? I propose exposing and eliminating it !

I enjoy it when you libs whine over my posts ! :)

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18WOT(16 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I'll be there. Been downtown nearly every day (and many, many nights) for over twenty years. I've never had the slightest problem.

I'm looking forward to V2. Given their previous experience in the industry, I'm confident that it will be a success. Rosetta Stone never had a chance because the owners and management had no clue. That won't be an issue here.

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19GoPens(397 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Wow, I've made one post and already I've been labeled a "Lib". Typical. You know nothing about me. I just love internet tough guys. All bark, no bite and who do nothing but bring down others who actually go out and try to do something in their community instead of constantly complaining behind their keyboards.

BTW, I'm far from a "Lib". Haha, you guys crack me up.

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20TylerDurden(367 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

"There is no paradise. It's the same no matter where you live."

Written like a true Mahoning Valley lifer. If it were the same everywhere people would stay here. Trust me, it is much, much different in other places. Much different.

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21GoPens(397 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

@ censorship.

First I'm a "Lib" and now I'm a "Comrade"? You guys are just too funny.

Why don't you guys run for office or something instead of being tough guys on Vindy.com?

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22author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Lets talk some sense about YET another waste of taxpayers money. Censoredship brings a valid point. A "land locked" building. Where will the parking be for those at night who want to visit Vernons? Sure, during the day, the downtown crowd will walk to the place. Now for the tenants -- just look at the first waste of taxpayers money -- Frango's building that has only Mike Morley and MYCAP as tenants. And, it HAS parking! No one is going to pay those prices, when you can live in a HOUSE in the suburbs or even Youngstown.

How about living there and paying the 2.25% income tax? How about paying for uncovered parking during our winters?

Vernons will never make it past a year or two, because its not the type of bar that will attract underage drinkers that have kept the bars in downtown going strong.

Rosetta was a joke from the begining, because everyone knew that Chuck Sop was a conman, who would close the doors once his government funding ran out.

Government has to get out of the real estate development business.

If you need government assistance to open a business you shouldn't be opening the business.

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23GoPens(397 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm not saying this is the greatest idea, and yes the strings attached to it seem like it's the same-ol' same-ol', but what are we going to do to try and get some improvement here in the Valley? Gripe and moan on Vindy.com and not have anybody do anything and just let downtown rot? At least someone's trying something.

My "Lib" reference and most of my comments were directed at Stan who called me that and who thinks he's actually helping the community by constantly posting nothing but negative comments on the Vindy website, while acting like he's some hard-azz with his flamboyant Hulk Hogan avatar. Note to the Hulk--instead of venting your anger here where nothing is will come of it, I hope you direct it where it will be of some actual use, like public service or whatever. You want to make a change in Youngstown? Get off the internet and go out in the community and make a difference.

Now that I've made my 4th post, I'm sure I'll be called some sort of Marxist, Commie-Pinko. Just so you all know, I voted for Reagan and Bush in the past...

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24Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Bingo, we think alike, thus we are right.

Let me stroke you for thinking like me.

Yes, yes, indeed, good sir, you are intelligent, unlike these other folks who think differently from us.

Yes, indeed.


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25Billybob21(96 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I wanna know who can afford $900 or $600 months rent now a days. WIth there being No jobs and crime at a rise maybe the apartments will be penthouses For the drug dealers and hookers in Ytown. Just more govt funded buildings that will sit attened

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26redvert(2226 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes sir, bring in some restaurants and apartments to the downtown and the subculture will hop on the new opportunities. They don't bother now cause there is nothing to steal at the moment.

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27George412(161 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Same old people saying the same old things. Why doesn't anything in this area ever change? Because the conversation never changes.

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28Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

GoPens :

"Now that I've made my 4th post, I'm sure I'll be called some sort of Marxist, Commie-Pinko."

Naw, the word I had in mind for you was Putz . . .

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29GoPens(397 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Haha, you amaze me with your origionality internet tough guy. Which boa are you wearing today, the pink one or the orange one?

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30Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago


"Written like a true Mahoning Valley lifer."

Actually been around the world, US Navy, lived in far more places then you can even think about, and you know what? It's the SAME everywhere. You will never find paradise until the day you are no longer on this planet.

"If it were the same everywhere people would stay here. "

They move and then usually come back. If they had a official stat for that, you'll be amazed.

"Trust me, it is much, much different in other places. Much different. "

Name ONE place?

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31oldstown(266 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

In a few years this building will be just as empty and hopeless as the Rosetta Stone building to which it is attached. Who wants to move into a dying cesspool of a downtown? We all see how wonderfully the Realty Tower turned out!

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32southsidedave(5183 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

The one positive aspect from this development, is that the rents will be reasonable: $600 for a studio and $900 for a 2 bedroom.

Much better than Realty Towers which is still largely vacant after opening over a year ago due to steep rents.

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33city_resident(528 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Great news! Looking forward to the building's completion.

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34walter_sobchak(2587 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

This is good news for the city that there will be continued development of the downtown area. The area, in conjunction with YSU, has a very low incidence of crime, especially violent crime. The joint enforcement agreement of YSU police and YPD ensures that this happens.

The problem is the avenues that lead to this area are extremely dangerous. I grew up on the Upper Southside and there is no way I will drive thru my old neighborhood. Just last week, rather than driving down Market St. to get thru downtown, I used I-680 to avoid the chance of being shot. I have always tired to use those businesses that have chosen to stay in Youngstown but now, I think twice. The Repchic's were shot about 300 feet from Market St. on a Saturday Afternoon.

So, yes, people are avoiding Youngstown. If you come in from the suburbs, you have to use I-680 and route 11. It is not worth the risk.

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35city_resident(528 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago


Statistically, you're probably more likely to be involved in a fatal traffic accident than you are a victim of a shooting.

Somewhat related:

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36walter_sobchak(2587 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

You can use statistics in many ways to prove your point. When using overall statistics, you would be correct. However, using the same basis of argument, since more people are shot to death in the city than die in auto accidents, I am correct.

This is the point. I can drive safely and defensively at all times to minimize my chances of dying behind the wheel in an accident, especially not drinking and driving. So, how can I minimize my risk of being shot in the city limits? Let's see. I can not do drugs. I could wear Kevlar clothes. Or, the most logical, I can avoid putting myself into a dangerous situation. That is why I will avoid driving in the city unless necessary.

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37city_resident(528 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

To me, it sounds as though you, and the others afraid to go into Youngstown, are missing out. But, whatever floats your boat, I guess.

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38Silence_Dogood(1655 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

"But, whatever floats your boat, I guess"

Exactly, and that is why this City is shrinking in population every day.It is an individuals choice to live in a high crime City, one you have no problem with, other people choose NOT to live in high crime areas. That is why this City is getting smaller,and smaller, and smaller, and smaller.....

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39city_resident(528 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I consider my chances of being shot in Youngstown about the same as winning the Powerball, or being struck by lighting. So it's not something I worry about.

I'm not trying to say that something shouldn't be done about crime, but, if I'm not mistaken, the crime rate has been falling (much faster than the population) for the last few years.

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40ytownexileDC(1 comment)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Honestly, why anyone would criticize people attempting to open businesses in Youngstown is beyond me.

If George Wick were alive today and announced plans to open a steel mill on the banks of Mahoning river with the support of Rep. Ryan, Gov. Strickland, Mayor Williams and subsidies from the US government...people on this forum would be screaming about it.

Business owners are attacked here just as violently with words as are the victims of violent crime.

I am a firm believer that nay sayers must not only propose alternatives when they give their opinions or tear down the efforts of others, but put there plans into action. I CHALLENGE you to DO what others are DOING. Run for Mayor, open a business, clean up the streets. Renovate your own building.

It is easy for people who think they are powerless to sit around, complain and wait for someone to save them.

Go out. Find support for YOUR idea. Talk to REAL people and CREATE something.

That is what Wick, Butler, Arms, Ween, Packard and hundreds of entrepreneurs in the Mahoning Valley did. They did not do it alone...They had community support. They had help and support from others. They formed Boards of Directors. They secured loans. They hired contractors. They executed plans that had real quantifiable goals.

Or would you rather perpetuate the current state of affairs by tearing down everything? DON"T DO WHAT WORKS...wait for Santa Claus to bring you a steel mill this Christmas so you can go back to work and complain about your job.

I moved away, but I'm coming back. I want to open a business in Youngstown and BUILD a community. Now I know I won't be supported when doing so by certain people, who would prefer Youngstown stay asleep.

Some say that where there is emptiness, there is space for whatever you want to put there. Right now, the emptiness in Youngstown can be the home of crime, ignorance and reverence for the glory days that are long gone. It can be the home for hope. It can be the home for possibility and prosperity.

The power of the human mind is that it can create and solve problems. Youngstown has a lot of empty commercial, retail, residential and industrial space. What can we put there?...ANYTHING.

Who would you invite?

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41WarrenRicheyKid(169 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

"The power of the human mind is that it can create and solve problems. Youngstown has a lot of empty commercial, retail, residential and industrial space. What can we put there?...ANYTHING."

Very well put, ytownexileDC,

What older cities have as an advantage is lots of vacant land. Philadelphia and a few other cities are creating new opportunities for investors by clearing vacant lots and demolishing abandoned structures.

I wish you the best of luck in your return to Youngstown. If you look, here you'll find others like yourself with the same vision.

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42George412(161 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

youngstownexile, most the voices here on these threads don't represent the valley. The naysayers and trolls have long since driven away the rational and intelligent posters. Don't worry. You will be supported. There is a community of like-minded people here for you.

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43ANTIYOUNGSTOWN(251 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Another soon to be failed attempt to reviving a dead city. The only bright spot is the fact that they will be charging a more reasonable rent than the ridiculous, half empty Realty Towers. I`m sure we will be reading about how the V2 will be closing down within a couple years.

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