Youngstown State University will receive $200,000 in federal stimulus money to remediate asbestos in a West Rayen Avenue building.
The Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund grant was approved for YSU’s Garfield Building. Toledo’s Madison Building and Midtown Cleveland Inc.’s Agora theater each also received $200,000 for asbestos remediation.
“The removal of this asbestos in this particular facility is in anticipation of future redevelopment of the building for research labs and those sort of facilities and potential classrooms for the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] College,” said Ron Cole, YSU spokesman.
The grant is the first step in what YSU hopes is the effort to get the Garfield Building, which has been vacant for several years, online for the STEP College, Cole said.
“The building requires significant renovations, and it’s going to require significant dollars,” he said. “So we are removing asbestos while simultaneously looking to identify future funding sources for the process.”
YSU hopes to start renovations within the next three months, the spokesman said.
Two of the approved projects are located within Ohio Hubs of Innovation and Opportunity: the Cleveland Health and Technology Corridor Hub and the Youngstown Entrepreneurial Hub of Advanced Materials Commercialization and Software Development.
The Ohio Hubs, supported by the Ohio Department of Development, leverage a region’s resources and investments to attract clusters of connected businesses, encourage new investments and an influx of talented workers and help create new opportunities to grow jobs and develop Ohio’s key industries.
“These investments are more than just the first step to redeveloping historic buildings; they are playing a vital role in growing and supporting our Ohio Hubs,” said Lisa Patt-McDaniel, director of the Ohio Department of Development. “By renovating and finding new uses for these facilities, we are ensuring that our Ohio Hubs and our communities will continue to attract future economic investments and build upon the successful business clusters unique to the region.”
The Garfield Building, at 106 W. Rayen Ave., was built in 1921. The building was operated by AT&T as a switching station until it was gifted to YSU in 1995. The university wants to renovate the building into a research facility for the measurement of advanced-materials properties in sustainable energy.
The proposed facility would advance the academic-research capabilities of the university and serve as a landmark structure for the Ohio Hub.
Asbestos was incorporated into past building materials for its fire-retardant properties. It is now known to increase the risk of certain cancers and must be identified and removed by certified asbestos- abatement professionals using specialized methods and equipment.
The Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund, administered by the Ohio Department of Development’s Urban Development Division, offers below-market-rate loans and sub-grants to assist with the remediation of a brownfield property to return it to a productive economic use in the community.