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Remaking downtown Youngstown



Published: Sun, December 25, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


  Erie Terminal Building

The Erie Terminal Building is the latest in Downtown Youngstown renovations. The Apartment Complex will be open in the Spring of 2012

The Erie Terminal Building is the latest in Downtown Youngstown renovations. The Apartment Complex will be open in the Spring of 2012

photo

Construction work progresses on the Erie Terminal building, a $9 million, 65-person residential complex that will be the latest, biggest brick in a critical bridge between downtown and the Youngstown State University campus. Dominic Marchionda and his wife, Jackie, are spearheading the project.

From a sixth-floor vantage point, Dominic Marchionda looks down at the bustle of downtown Youngstown.

“Look at all those cars,” he says with a grin that’s as boyish as it is convincing.

Downtown has been slowly creeping back to life the last few years.

Marchionda rattles off the projects that have arrived. In 2010, it was Realty Tower. In 2011, it was the Federal Building. He points, too, to the restaurants and the tech jobs.

In 2012, it will be Marchionda’s year.

He and his wife, Jackie, will open the Erie Terminal building — a $9 million, 65-person residential complex that will be the latest, biggest brick in a critical bridge between downtown and the Youngstown State University campus. It’s a place for YSU students and a continuation of the Marchiondas’ vision that launched the Flats at Wick residential facility in 2010. They expect to invite students to tour Erie when the spring semester starts and have tenants moving in by May.

While it’s their project, it’s also, in many ways, their fathers’ project, too.

Were it not for Attilio Marchionda, who died in 1986, all of this might not have happened.

After college, as Dominic and Jackie started to build their careers, they wondered about moving to North Carolina or Florida.

It’s where everything was happening, Dominic said.

Here, it wasn’t.

“But my dad always told me, ‘Have faith in Youngstown; have faith.’ I am so glad he always said that to me,” Dominic said.

Attilio not only believed it, he worked it. The day after Dominic and Jackie were married and everyone was still celebrating them, Attilio was back in the steel mill that morning.

“I felt bad, but that was how he lived — working.”

Jackie’s father, Fred, left Italy in 1959 with his brother. They had $30 in their pockets and dreams in their souls. After settling in New Jersey for a bit, they escaped the hustle and bustle there and joined family already here in Youngstown.

They arrived here by train. The Erie Terminal hosted their first steps in the Valley.

Jackie calls their investment an honor to the past.

“So many people came through this building hoping for new lives — a future, a purpose,” said Jackie. “To see things like this die is just sad. We’re honored to bring something back to life.”

This won’t be their only downtown revival.

“We will do Wick next,” said Dominic, with a cocksure look that replaces the boyish grin as we talk on the rooftop of the Erie.

What Erie has in function with its location against YSU’s new Williamson College of Business Administration, Wick has in elegance.

They see Wick as a specialty hotel. Wick is a couple of rooftops across — standing classy, stoic and emboldened as it rises over the city. It seems to mirror Jackie and Dominic.

Dominic, you could dismiss as Trump-like with his self-assured tone. You could. But it’s pure conviction that comes from homework.

With Erie, they took a year to do their due diligence on the property before buying it. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. It was rundown and abandoned.

It would have been easier to build from scratch another Flats.

“But not as rewarding,” said Jackie.

The research included knowing all the incentives for such an undertaking — waived city fees, tax abatements, state and federal historical preservation credits and a lot more. At coffee counters and bar stools, we easily dismiss these steps as corporate welfare and free cash for rich guys. Dominic scoffs.

“Without that help, this project does not get done,” he said — pausing with a steely look. He waves his arms at the flurry of men working the six floors like a human habitrail. “There are 50 to 60 workers in here. They don’t work without these programs. The programs are absolutely necessary. I’d trade shoes in a minute with someone who thinks this can be done without help.”

He’s wise to his surroundings, too.

He and Jackie are in the student-housing business because in the mid-2000s, they saw the bottom of residential housing market coming. Tuscany Estates is a choice neighborhood in Poland, and it was their project. They didn’t see more of those coming. They researched various living communities, including elderly and retirement, before zeroing in on college housing.

Jack Fahey, YSU vice president of student affairs, said the trend for campus housing in the last 15 years has been private partnerships.

“Student interests have shifted more to apartment living than dorms,” Fahey said. In fact, there are no immediate plans for YSU to add housing itself. “Dominic has a really good relationship with the students. And he works great with us on standards for security and business practices.”

There is a plan to expand the 115-student Flats. But all attention now is on Erie. It’ll be a cool place.

A coffee shop, a restaurant, a draught house, a small theater, tanning beds and exercise room are among the features awaiting tenants who can choose from one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

It’s a shared job for the Marchiondas. Workers call away both of them at various times to give updates and seek direction. They laugh at their roles. Dominic dreams; Jackie is reality. They both see now as the right time.

They sense Youngstown optimism from their friends and peers.

They see Youngstown energy and interest from the twenty-somethings who fill downtown now.

And from their fathers, they’ve kept their faith that Youngstown can be a place to build dreams.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com.


Comments

1ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 3 years ago

So what he is saying is that government stands in the way of these projects, and only by govt. getting out of the way via tax abatements and credits do these projects get done. Sad, sad, sad.

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2NoBS(2012 comments)posted 3 years ago

From the copy: "The research included knowing all the incentives for such an undertaking — waived city fees, tax abatements, state and federal historical preservation credits and a lot more."

In other words, those things that Kasich took from the local municipalities are the things that get this sort of project moving.

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3valleyred(1100 comments)posted 3 years ago

NoBS, your anti-Kasich far-left agenda is ridiculous. It has no place in this article.

This is a great project for Youngstown! Very excited to see the building once it is complete.

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4Superstar7(122 comments)posted 3 years ago

YTownrustman,
You are wrong, wrong, wrong.
Your backward, undereducated "thinking" leads to desolation. You sound like a Democrat politician-the ones with union backing that are directly, 100% responsible for this areas problems, That is why Columbus ignores us, at least until now, as our present Governor is focused on helping YTown.
The tax abatements & aid ARE putting people to work NOW. The results will generate housing that will generate more income, more growth.
Please move to Campbell with the other undereducated fools and rust. Take Hagen with you. Move to Greece, where your business lack of acumen thinking has lead to their ruining The European Economy.

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5southsidedave(4856 comments)posted 3 years ago

This is really an amazing story; people are willing to invest in Downtown. YSU will continue to be the driving force behind the growth.

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6normjo(6 comments)posted 3 years ago

From 1,200 miles away am I rooting for a project I know nothing about, but after reading it in spite of tax abatments, waiving of fees etc., I ask myself "is this good for the city?" Yes, iwithout a doubt it sounds good to me. An excellent way to spend some of the pent up money that everyone is reluctant to spend on improving our communities while millions remain unemployed. To the Marchionda's.......GOOD LUCK, Youngstown needs it and you.

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7NoBS(2012 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

red, can't dispute what I said, so you attack me personally? Typical of you.

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8snydro0108(61 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

NoBS,
This article has nothing to do with your left-wing obsession. Keep drinking that Liberal KoolAid, brother. When you read this article again, you will see that it doesn't mention politics at all, but you had to throw that in there and put the "Left Spin" on it. Just read the article and interpret it for what it actually is.....a good story. Not a "John Kasich" bash-o-rama!

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9Spiderlegs(144 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

The article forgot to mention how this might change YSU. The university's dependence on commuter and part-time students keeps graduation rates down. Increasing the number of full-time students living on or near the campus will improve the university's reputation. Win-win for everybody.

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10Askmeificare(711 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Great article / story!

Thank you Mr. Todd Franko - Another homerun!

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11Anonymouse(36 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

If members of the local Republican party stopped egging one another on to astroturf the comments sections of Vindy stories, the forums would be almost completely dead.

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12pgurney(283 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

I wish that someone would invest in the neighborhoods OUTSIDE of downtown as well. Downtown is not all there is to Youngstown.

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13tmarie(5 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

GREAT ARTICLE!!! It is so refreshing to hear of those that envision a different Youngstown, and work to make it a reality. Every time I come home, I see the progress, and it is wonderful. Too many who live there, or used to live there need to open their eyes, and take a closer look around. Keep it up and, Todd, keep writing about the progress!!

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