By Denise Dick
City council approved an ordinance authorizing the board of control to negotiate and enter a contract with the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp. to buy the Kress property.
Council approved the ordinance Wednesday, calling for the city to demolish the long-vacant building on West Federal Street, between Phelps and Hazel streets, and use the parcel as a parking lot.
Estimated cost is $450,000 and would come from water and wastewater funds.
As part of the deal, the CIC, a nonprofit property agency run by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, would make improvements to the State Theater property, said Finance Director David Bozanich. The estimate for the CIC’s work on the State Theater property is a couple hundred thousand dollars, he said.
Dave Kosec, the CIC’s project manager, said plans for the theater site include improvements to the lot, a facade and a parking lot behind the facade.
Council members questioned why the city is spending the money.
Bozanich said if the city didn’t demolish the building it likely wouldn’t get done. “The CIC flat out told us they don’t have the resources to do it,” he said.
The Wig Warehouse was the building’s last occupant in 2000, but that business had to relocate because of the building’s unsafe conditions.
The Purple Cat, an agency that provides skills and recreational activities for about 125 mentally and physically impaired people, wanted to relocate to Kress but decided against it in January 2012 after failing to receive state historic tax credits.
Council also approved an ordinance to permit the city administration to seek proposals from firms to redistrict Youngstown’s seven wards.
Councilmen Mike Ray, D-4th, and Paul Drennen, D-5th, both voted against the ordinance. They say they are satisfied with the maps provided by Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies last month, adding it’s a waste of money to hire another firm to divide the city into seven wards.
The city’s wards haven’t been redistricted since the early 1980s and have unequal populations, ranging from 7,117 to 12,130, based on the 2010 federal census.
Council members want to have the new wards in place in time for the 2015 council election.