Demolition of Kress Building downtown to start in about 2 weeks

By David Skolnick


Demolition on the former Kress Building downtown will start in about two weeks.

The work will cost about $385,000 to $400,000, and upon completion, the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp., which owns the dilapidated structure, will sell the 117-121 W. Federal St. property to the city, said Dave Kosec, the CIC’s project manager.

The city’s board of control agreed Dec. 19, 2013, to buy the Kress land for $500,000. The CIC, a nonprofit downtown property agency run by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, will use that money to pay for the demolition work.

The city plans to convert the property, next to the 7th District Court of Appeals, into a parking lot.

The city’s Design Review Committee, which oversees exterior work to structures in and near downtown, voted Tuesday to permit the demolition.

Fire Chief John J. O’Neill Jr. wrote a letter to the DRC that Kress needs to be demolished immediately as it is unsafe.

Kosec — a DRC member who abstained from the vote — said the building’s floor has collapsed, there are holes in the roof, the back walls have deteriorated and the structure’s “collapse is imminent.”

Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public-works department and a DRC member, said two windows fell off the building and onto the street Friday.

The CIC has attempted to sell the structure, built 94 years ago, without success.

It was last occupied in 2000 by the Wig Warehouse, but that business had to relocate because of the building’s unsafe condition. Structural engineers at the time said the building was in danger of collapse and should be demolished because it is a safety and fire hazard.

After Kress is demolished and the city pays the CIC to own the property and make it a surface parking lot, a deal worked out between the two calls for the CIC to sign a 20-year lease for $100 a year for the former Paramount Theatre property on the corner of West Federal and Hazel streets.

The city had that downtown structure demolished last year and had planned to turn that property into a parking lot. The CIC will use the Paramount site for the same purpose on or before June 1.

A contract between the two also has the CIC transforming a fenced-in hole, just east of the Wells Building at 201 W. Federal St., into a parking lot. The hole has been there since 2008 when the CIC demolished the Armed Forces Building and the State Theatre, keeping the latter building’s facade.

The CIC planned to use $85,000 it was to receive from Strollo Architects, which is planning a $4.4 million project at the long-vacant Wells Building, to pay for the parking lot. Strollo has struggled to get financing for the project, but city council agreed last month to loan $700,000 to Strollo for the project to be repaid about 18 months later at 3 percent interest.

Kosec said Tuesday that because of Strollo’s financing issues, related to state tax credits, the CIC will sell the building for $1 to the firm.

Regardless of what happens with Strollo, the CIC will fill in the hole with money it will receive from the city for the Kress property sale, Kosec said.

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