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City board approves 20 Fed extension

YOUNGSTOWN — The city’s board of control signed a third 60-day exclusivity contract with a company seeking to redevelop the downtown 20 Federal Place building.

The agreement approved Thursday is the third 60-day deal with Desmone Architects of Pittsburgh for the redevelopment. The second contract expired April 30.

The project depends greatly on the city getting approval for a $6.9 million grant request to remove asbestos and partially demolish the building with that money coming from the Ohio Brownfield Remediation Program, said city Finance Director Kyle Miasek, a board member.

An announcement on state funding is expected in the next few weeks.

If the project gets the full $6.9 million requested, the city would need to provide about $2.3 million in additional funding, he said.

The state funding would also assist in obtaining historical tax credits and other financial resources for the project, Miasek said.

If the city doesn’t get the state funding, it would have to find “an alternative funding source,” Miasek said.

The city’s board of control signed a 60-day memorandum of understanding on Dec. 2 with Desmone giving it exclusivity to come up with plans to redevelop the city-owned building at 20 W. Federal St.

The city didn’t start the 60 days until the beginning of the year. While waiting for the brownfield grant announcement, the city board on March 10, retroactive to March 1, approved a 60-day extension. That extension ended April 30.

The contract calls for Desmone to provide “funding sources, continue dialogue with two interested tenants, evaluate existing tenant relocation strategies and conditions to transfer 20 Federal Place.”

The redevelopment project could cost as much as $60 million.

Jim Ambrose, Desmone’s director of business development, has said his company’s plan includes demolishing the three-story mezzanine on the Commerce Street side of the building, where the food court is located; building a skylight in the roof; a parking lot in the basement; and a place to buy baked goods, produce and other foods on the ground floor, among other renovations and business spaces.

The city purchased the building in November 2004 after Phar-Mor, a national retail store company, went out of business. The property was the Phar-Mor Centre, the company’s corporate headquarters. Before that, it was the flagship location of Strouss’ department store for several decades.

The city has tried unsuccessfully to sell the 332,000-square-foot building in the past.

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