Wick, Wells projects downtown Youngstown hit snag

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Developers plan a $15 million renovation of the vacant Wick Building on West Federal Street for a 52-unit rental and extended-stay facility.

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Developers plan a $5 million renovation of the vacant Wells Building on West Federal Street for offices and a 12-unit apartment complex.

By David Skolnick



Work to convert the vacant Wick Building into a 52-unit rental and extended-stay facility has been delayed.

It was supposed to start Thursday but now should begin within the next 60 days.

NYO Property Group, which owns the 13-story building and several other major downtown structures, had faced the loss of $3.66 million in federal and state tax credits for the project if it did not begin by Thursday.

But Mark Taylor, NYO’s chief financial officer, said the company received approval to delay the start of construction without losing the tax credits.

Developers of the Wells Building downtown also say they need more time to finalize financing.

“We’re working on getting our plans finalized and revised, and we’re close to finalizing our financing,” Taylor said. “We’re moving forward. The tax credits are still in place.”

Financing and final plans on the Wick project, estimated to cost $15 million to $16 million, will be resolved in the next 60 days, Taylor said.

The company is committed to overhauling the 103-year-old building, Taylor said.

The tax credits are given after a project is completed. The project will take 12 to 14 months to complete.

In addition to the tax credits, NYO is in line to receive $770,000 from the Ohio Development Service Agency’s Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund, and is working on a deal with the city that would give the company up to $500,000 in water and wastewater grants and a $2 million loan with an interest rate of 0.25 percent.

The company wants to convert the building at 34 W. Federal St., vacant for about seven years, into 30 apartments and 22 extended-stay living facilities with the latter rented for short periods to those conducting business in the area.

Meanwhile, Strollo Architects, which wants to rehabilitate the 96-year-old Wells Building, also downtown at 201 W. Federal St., has until Aug. 11 to start work or jeopardize $1.8 million in federal and state tax credits. [Company officials incorrectly told The Vindicator in June that Aug. 1 was the deadline.]

If needed, the company can start internal demolition by Aug. 11, said Gregg Strollo, the company’s president.

The company will have a conference call Thursday with state officials to see if the start date can be pushed back, he said.

The company received a “horrible appraisal” of $2.2 million for the building — it was looking for an appraisal of $2.8 million to $3 million — “that makes it hard to borrow the money” needed for the nearly $5 million project, Strollo said.

“We need to talk with banks on negotiating the finances,” he said. “There’s not a lot of wiggle room with the amount to borrow.”

The firm is willing to start with about $150,000 worth of internal demolition to show its commitment to the project, Strollo said.

The project should take about nine months to complete. The Wells Building was last used about 30 years ago as an Armed Forces recruiting center.

Strollo plans to use the first floor for its architectural office, including building a mezzanine for additional workspace, and a portion of the basement for storage. The upper three floors would be converted into 12 apartments, four on each floor with all units having storage space in the basement.

The company has preliminary approval from the city for a $2 million loan with an interest rate of 0.25 percent, and grants of up to $520,000 for water and wastewater improvements and up to $100,000 from the Youngstown Initiative Program, which provides money for companies opening and relocating in the city, and a 12-year real-property tax abatement.

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