A downtown property group would use money from Wells sale for a parking lot

By David Skolnick



If Strollo Architects’ planned rehabilitation of the Wells Building happens, the $85,000 the company is paying to buy the structure from a downtown property agency would be used to transform a fenced-in hole next to it into a parking lot.

Strollo is still working to finalize funding for the Wells project, which will cost about $5 million, and has to start work by Sunday or risk losing $1.8 million in federal and state tax credits.

The company will discuss the proposal on a Thursday conference call with state officials.

If the Sunday deadline isn’t moved, Gregg Strollo, the company’s president, said about $150,000 worth of internal demolition would commence.

If the Strollo project is a go, the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp., a nonprofit downtown property development organization managed by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, would use the $85,000 for a 30-vehicle parking lot in the fenced-in hole just west of the Wells Building, said Dave Kosec, the CIC’s development project manager.

The CIC owns the Wells Building, at 201 W. Federal St., as well as the hole where the Armed Forces Building and State Theatre used to be. The hole has been in place since 2008.

The CIC received $275,000 from the state to demolish the dilapidated Armed Forces Building and State Theatre in late 2008, to retain the latter’s historic facade and a 20-foot section of the building to reinforce it, and to make improvements to the Semple Building, also on West Federal Street and owned by the agency.

The plan was to build a parking lot there, but because of unexpected expenses related to the Semple project, the CIC didn’t have money for the lot, which would need reinforced concrete on either side to support it.

Instead, a fence was erected around the hole, a drop of about 10 feet from the sidewalk on West Federal Street and level in the rear alley about 140 to 150 feet from West Federal.

Strollo’s project would take about 12 to 14 months with the architectural firm occupying the first floor, 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 having storage space in the basement.

It will take about a month for the parking lot project, that would use fill to level the property, Kosec said.

“The parking lot is predicated on the Wells project,” he said.

“As soon as we know it’s a sure go, the parking lot will be there.”

The eventual goal, Kosec said, is to use that property for a new downtown building.

The Design Review Committee, which oversees exterior work in the city’s downtown and surrounding areas, approved Strollo’s plans Tuesday for the Wells Building.

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