The vacant Wean United Building, one of downtown’s biggest eyesores, could be demolished and the site turned into a parking lot in a year, city officials say.
The city had planned to use a $1,775,418 state grant and $591,806 of its own money for an environmental cleanup of the 10.43-acre site and demolition of about half of a vacant industrial building on the property.
But Finance Director David Bozanich told city council Wednesday that the city is in the process of finalizing an agreement with William Marsteller, who owns the site, for Youngstown to take ownership of the property.
The tentative deal calls for the city to clean up the entire site; Marsteller would pay to demolish the building — which sits on 7.63 acres of that site — and sell it for scrap, said Bozanich and T. Sharon Woodberry, economic development director. Then Marsteller would turn over ownership of the property to the city as part of the plan, Bozanich and Woodberry said.
The city needs approval from the state to use the grant for the new plan and is progressing in discussions on the change, Bozanich said.
Also, the new proposal shouldn’t cost any more than the original plan because the city isn’t paying demolition costs, he said.
“We’ll finally be getting rid of a broken-down dinosaur of a building that’s been an eyesore for years,” Woodberry said. “We would have a prime downtown site available for development. That’s prime real estate.”
If all goes according to plan, work on the site should begin in a couple of months and be finished in a year.
Though a light industrial building may be in that site’s future, Bozanich said the initial goal would be to turn the location into parking. Specifically, he said, the plan is for paid parking for patrons of the city-owned Covelli Centre, which is on the east side of the Market Street Bridge. The Wean United site is on the west side of the bridge, off West Front Street.
“We’ve been aggressively pursuing the demolition of that site for years, and it looks like it’s finally going to happen,” he said.
Wean United closed the plant in 1989. Portions of the property were used by other companies over the years, but it’s been vacant in recent months.
Meanwhile, Bozanich said Wednesday that V&M Star has a lease with an option to buy the former RAS Manufacturing building in the city-owned Salt Springs Business Park. The company plans to invest about $3 million to turn that building into a roll shop as part of the its $650 million expansion project, Bozanich said.
The company had intended to use property at the expansion location — land that Youngstown took from Girard as part of a deal in which the two cities would split the 2.75-percent income tax on workers there — but V&M officials changed that plan in order to use the expansion site for other purposes, Bozanich said.
With V&M relocating to the 96,000-square-foot former RAS property, Youngstown would receive all of the income tax paid by the 25 workers there and would put to good use a location vacant for about four years, Bozanich said.
City council agreed Wednesday to permit the board of control to waive building permit and water and wastewater fees for V&M for that property.
Also Wednesday, council postponed a vote for about two weeks to provide up to $80,000 to Iron City Wood Products of Campbell, which plans to spend about $900,000 to expand to the Ross Industrial Park on Albert Street. The city money would be to offset the cost of building water and sewer lines to the East Side location.
The deal will still move ahead, said Woodberry and Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, who represents that part of the city, but Iron City first wants to look further at options to reduce the cost of building water and sewer lines.