A downtown eyesore will be completely demolished

By David Skolnick



The former Wean United Building, one of downtown’s biggest eyesores, will be completely demolished in about three months, one of its owners said.

Gearmar Properties, which owns the property on South Phelps Street, has been taking down portions of a 120,000-square-foot portion of the former Wean United since October while searching for a tenant for a 180,000-square-foot section that the company wanted to keep for a potential tenant.

The company had interest over the years but nothing concrete, said Dean Gearhart, Gearmar’s co-owner with Bill Marsteller.

“We’re going to take it down,” Gearhart said. “The city would like to see it taken down. That’s the best thing we can do so the city can develop it into something more modern. After careful thought and study, we felt it was the best option.”

That 180,000-square-foot portion, which has space for a 100-ton crane and borders the Market Street Bridge, will be demolished by mid-July, he said.

That’s also when the rest of the structure will be fully demolished, Gearmar said.

The company is selling material from the demolished structure for scrap.

After the entire 300,000-square-foot facility is demolished, Gearmar will turn over ownership of the 10.43-acre site to the city.

City officials haven’t decided what to do with the property, but they envision a park or additional parking for the nearby city-owned Covelli Centre.

Meanwhile, the city opened proposals Monday from companies interested in removing asbestos from a boiler house on the former Wean site and cleaning soil contaminated with heavy metals on the property.

The city’s estimate for the work was $425,000.

The lowest proposal came from Environmental Enterprises of Columbus at $282,159. The second-lowest was from Environmental Management Specialists of Cleveland at $288,189. There were three other proposals, including one that was incomplete as it didn’t include cleaning the soil.

“The prices look good,” said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public works department. “We have to review the proposals before recommending a company.”

That recommendation, he said, should be prepared in time for the April 24 board of control meeting.

A greater expense will be when the city has to remove the structure’s concrete foundation, Shasho said. He didn’t have a cost estimate.

That work can’t start until Gearmar has the entire structure demolished, Shasho said.

That work will start later this year, but may not be finished until 2015, he said.

The city received a $1.7 million Clean Ohio grant in 2012 for its portion of the project.

At its peak in the early 1970s, the plant employed 1,300, but it closed in 1982.

Gearmar has owned the property for nine years; it last was occupied in 2011 by Youngstown Pipe and Supply, which moved to the former Cold Metal Products site in Campbell and Youngstown. That property also is owned by Gearmar.

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