By Denise Dick
A structure that once housed about 1,300 workers in the city’s bustling downtown but became an eyesore in recent years is coming down.
The city’s board of control approved an agreement Tuesday with Gearmar Properties, which owns the former Wean United property on South Phelps Street, for Gearmar to proceed with phased demolition of the building.
The plan is for Gearmar to seek demolition of most of the building, leaving the “valuable bays with the [space for a] 100-ton crane” to try to find a tenant, said David Bozanich, city finance director and board of control member.
If a tenant isn’t found for the remaining section by May 2014, that also will come down.
Bozanich said the company previously has talked with other companies about using the building, but those deals have fallen through.
Mayor Charles Sammarone credited the city’s prose-cutors who handle building- ode enforcement with a deal being worked out to get the building demolished.
“We’ve been working on this and dealing with this for a number of years,” he said.
The city tried to work with the owners as they sought a tenant for the building, but those plans were never successful, Sammarone said.
Under the deal, the city takes ownership of the roughly 11 acres while the company maintains the right to lease it, Bozanich said.
The city was awarded a $1.7 million Clean Ohio grant last year for an environmental cleanup of the site, primarily to remove heavy metals from the soil, and will spend up to $500,000 in city money for the work. To use the grant, the city must own the property.
At its peak in the early 1970s, the plant employed 1,300 people, but it’s stood idle for years, according to Vindicator files, and was closed in 1987. Gearmar has owned the site for eight years. It was last occupied in 2011 by Youngstown Pipe and Supply, which moved to the former Cold Metal Products site in Campbell and Youngstown that also is owned by Gearmar.