State grants extension for Wells Bldg. rehab
By David Skolnick
The state is no longer requiring Strollo Architects to start a nearly $5 million rehabilitation project at the downtown Wells Building by a Sunday deadline.
Before the agreement with the state, Strollo Architects would have been required to start the work Sunday or lose $1.8 million in federal and state tax credits.
Instead of a required start date, the state agreed to extend the original completion date from April 2014 to sometime in the summer or fall of next year, said Gregg Strollo, the firm’s president and principal.
“The state is very understanding of our situation,” he said. “National lawsuits related to tax credits for the Atlantic City boardwalk have made it hard for tax credits to be obtained now. It’s been difficult to finance smaller projects, including ours. The state is giving us an extension.”
If Strollo didn’t move ahead with the project, it’s quite likely the historic, 96-year-old Wells Building at 201 W. Federal St. would sit empty until it was demolished, Strollo said.
“If we don’t do this, this building goes away,” he said. “The state is being very patient and very helpful.”
The Wells Building last was used about 30 years ago as an Armed Forces recruiting center.
The architectural firm would have been able to start work Sunday on the building — about $150,000 worth of internal demolition — if the state had declined to give the extension, Strollo said.
The company should have financing finalized in the next two months, Strollo said.
Once the project starts, it should take about nine months to complete.
Strollo, currently located at the city-owned 20 Federal Place office building, plans to use the first floor of Wells 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, grants of up to $520,000 for water and wastewater improvements, 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.