By William K. Alcorn
Youngstown’s $25.5 million Stambaugh Building project to convert the downtown historic building into a 120-room hotel has received the boost it needed — $5 million through the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program.
The 12-story Stambaugh Building, 44 E. Federal St., designed in 1907 with eight floors, just five years later added four floors to accommodate client demand.
But today, all but a small portion of the first floor is without tenants, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency, which awarded the tax credits to the NYO Property Group.
Due to increased demand for hospitality space in the area and the need for a hotel in downtown Youngstown, NYO Property Group acquired the property and plans to convert the building into a hotel, ODSA said in announcing the tax credit.
The extensive rehabilitation is expected to begin in the first half of 2015 and be completed in the summer or fall of 2016, said Dominic J. Marchionda, NYO chief executive officer.
The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program provides a 25 percent tax credit for the rehabilitation expenses to owners and lessees of historically significant buildings.
Tuesday’s award of $5 mil- lion to the Stambaugh project is the maximum amount allowed under the program and is the largest historic preservation tax credit awarded in the Mahoning Valley since the program began, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.
Ongoing investment and development in downtown Youngstown has increased as institutions such as Youngstown State University, the Covelli Centre, the Youngstown Business Incubator and the city of Youngstown, and private developers turn their attention to attracting activity to the area, spurring a demand for a downtown hotel.
Market studies commissioned by the NYO Property Group revealed that the demand exists and the market will support a 120-room hotel, along with auxiliary hotel uses such as an exercise room, banquet room, conference space, hotel restaurant and hotel lounge.
“The need for a full-service hotel ... is certainly no secret, and we are excited to be able to move this project forward with this award from the state of Ohio,” said Marchionda.
“The attraction, the draw to downtown is the beauty and quality of these old buildings and how accessible everything is by foot, letting people enjoy a day, evening or night partaking in all that our Wick Avenue cultural corridor, university campus, central business, entertainment and innovation district has to offer,” he said.
“We are committed to renovation and rehabilitation instead of demolition and are excited to receive this great news today. All the memorable events held at Stambaugh Auditorium, YSU, Covelli Centre, Mill Creek Park, DeYor Theater, Regional Chamber, YBI — their patrons and other visitors will now have somewhere to lodge overnight and stay comfortably, right here in our city center, really allowing them to experience firsthand what this new Youngstown has to offer,” Marchionda said.
“This project will be another chapter of what we think has the potential to be one of the greatest comeback stories ever to be told. The location of the building, right in Federal Plaza — seeing that lit up in the next few years will serve as a statement for our town,” he said.
Marchionda, NYO director of operations and strategic planning, said that while he is extremely excited of the news to have the opportunity to bring a piece of our city’s history back to life, “NYO remains focused and committed to the continued strategic and comprehensive revitalization of our great city in partnership with our local anchor institution, lenders and the greater community.”
NYO Property Group thanked state Sen. Joseph Schiavoni, U.S. Rep. Timothy Ryan, state Rep. Robert Hagan and Michele Lepore-Hagan, Mayor John McNally and Youngstown City Council for their support.
“We’re certainly very happy that the NYO Property Group received the tax credit in that amount. It is apparent that many institutions are looking for a downtown hotel to develop,” said McNally.
Other developers have been inquiring about potential locations, and it appears the timing is right for at least one other hotel and maybe more down the line to service Youngstown State University and business interests, the mayor said.
“I think people downtown is on the radar screen of developers,” he said.
Sarah Voyarko, vice president of economic development for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said the Stambaugh Building project is “one more positive story for the downtown area. It’s great to have the potential to say there is a place downtown to stay.”
Voyarko said the chamber has had 35 out-of-state inquiries for properties in the area, 19 of which have sent representatives here.
“They need someplace to stay when they are here. The building is very visually appealing and currently not being used. A hotel is definitely a need for the downtown area,” she said.
The $6.5 million Ogilvie Block Project in East Liverpool is also a tax credit recipient.
The East Liverpool project received $1.1 million of the $37.7 million Tuesday through the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, which aims to rehabilitate 35 historic buildings in 13 communities across the state.
The Pennsylvania-based New Castle School of Trades plans to bring its vocational training programs to the building.