Demolition starts on one of downtown Youngstown’s biggest eyesores

The property’s owners have until May 2014 to find a tenant for a portion or it will also be demolished


The owners of the vacant Wean United Building, one of downtown’s biggest eyesores, have come to a deal with city officials to start the demolition of about 60 percent of the 300,000-square-foot structure now.

If a tenant isn’t found for the remaining 120,000-square-foot portion by May 2014, that will also come down.

A deal is signed between Gearmar Properties, which owns the Wean United property, and the city. It needs final approval from the city’s board of control, which meets at 10 a.m. Tuesday to consider that.

Under the deal, Gearmar will take down about 180,000 square feet of the building, which it has already started to do, and try to find a tenant for the rest of the building. The company plans to sell the former Wean United structure for scrap.

That other portion has space for a 100-ton crane, something that isn’t common in existing buildings, said Dean Gearhart, the company’s co-owner and secretary-treasurer.

Gearmar has talked with a few companies about using that location, which borders the Market Street Bridge, but nothing has materialized.

If Gearmar can’t find a tenant for that section of the structure by May 2014, the company will have it demolished too, said Gearhart and Bill Marsteller, co-owner and president.

“We are continuing to look for a user,” Marsteller said. “We have a couple of possibilities for the property. It’s nice it has a last chance to become something. If not, it will be a memory.”

The city will take ownership soon of the entire 10.43-acre site under the deal with Gearmar, but “if a tenant beneficial to both parties is found, ownership would revert back to Gearmar,” said city Law Director David Bozanich.

The city was awarded a $1,775,418 state grant last year for an environmental cleanup of the site, primarily to remove heavy metals from the soil, and will spend up to $591,806 of its city money for the work. The cleanup may not require the city to use all of the $591,806 set aside for the project, Bozanich said.

“For us to spend the grant, we need ownership of the property,” he said.

Read more in Sunday’s Vindicator

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