City OKs pacts for razing historic theater

Published: Wed, June 13, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick


The board of control signed professional contracts as it moves closer to demolishing the former Paramount Theatre, except its facade, in the city’s downtown.

The board on Tuesday approved a $19,500 contract with Strollo Architects to have the Youngstown firm develop a plan to take down the 94-year-old building, except the front exterior.

“Not saving the facade isn’t up for discussion; it’s a matter of how to do it,” said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public-works department.

Also, the board — composed of the mayor, law director and finance director — agreed to hire Brownfield Restoration Group, a Canandaigua, N.Y., company, for $56,028 to supervise the building’s environmental cleanup and make sure the city is in compliance with Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund policies.

The city has an $803,490 Clean Ohio grant for the project. The city is paying $269,553 as its share of the project.

The work should start by the winter with a time line to be developed soon for its completion, Shasho said.

“The city will save and stabilize the facade, demolish the old structure, build a parking lot and then evaluate what can be done” with the property on West Federal and Hazel streets, Shasho said.

The Paramount Project committee is seeking to raise about $5.5 million to convert the site into an outdoor gathering space by 2016.

The dilapidated structure, in the heart of downtown, is in such bad shape that it’s not safe to go inside because of its structural condition and asbestos, Shasho said.

The building opened in 1918 as the Liberty Theatre for vaudeville acts and silent movies with a 1,700-seat auditorium featuring an aquarium and fountain in the lobby. It was sold in 1929 to Paramount Pictures and renamed the Paramount Theatre. It closed in 1976.

The city purchased the structure for $80,000 in November 2010 from a company owned by Louis Frangos of Cleveland, a downtown Youngstown property owner.

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