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20 Fed bids won’t be ready until December

YOUNGSTOWN — Bids for a major remediation and partial demolition project at 20 Federal Place won’t be ready until the end of the year as companies wanting to redevelop the city-owned building haven’t finalized plans, a city official said.

Charles Shasho, the city’s deputy director of public works, said at a Wednesday meeting with officials wanting to redevelop the building resulted in a decision to seek bids in December. The initial plan was to get proposals for that work by Oct. 31.

“The bids for demolition will go out in December,” Shasho said. “They don’t have plans yet.”

National Real Estate Development, a firm with a portfolio of more than $1 billion in development properties that has expressed “interest in pursuing an investment” in 20 Federal Place, wants to change the project’s focus so that there is more housing at the building, city Finance Director Kyle Miasek said.

The city on Aug. 15 signed a lease agreement with 20 Federal Place LLC for the building. That company was created by Desmone Architects, the Pittsburgh firm selected by the city to redevelop the building, and has National Real Estate’s address in Philadelphia listed on the agreement.

A provision of a $6,962,250 Ohio Brownfield Remediation Program grant the city received for 20 Federal Place requires that this work be finished by June 30, 2023.

The city is providing $2.3 million in matching funds.

The delay came the same day city council approved allowing the board of control to spend up to $800,000 for a construction manager to oversee the redevelopment project.

Requests for qualifications for that work will be ready before the bids are prepared for the remediation of asbestos and other hazardous materials and a partial demolition of the downtown building, Shasho said.

The project’s total cost is $74 million.

20 Federal Place LLC has applied for as much as $33.4 million in state and federal tax credits for the work.

The city purchased the 332,000-square-foot building in November 2004 after Phar-Mor, a national retail store company, went out of business. The property was then named the Phar-Mor Centre, the company’s corporate headquarters. Before that, it was the flagship location of Strouss’ department store for decades, closing in 1986.

Also Wednesday, council voted in favor of legislation to allocate $200,000 of American Rescue Plan funds for economic development purposes on Mahoning Avenue, a main corridor on the city’s West Side.

The legislation, sponsored by Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th Ward, authorizes the board of control to enter into a contract with the Western Reserve Port Authority for that work.

The money comes from the $14 million ARP allocation city council gave its members — $2 million each — specifically for projects in the seven wards.

But Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, who is chairman of the board of control, has said a number of times, including at Monday’s council finance committee meeting, that the board won’t authorize council-proposed spending if he and the two other members, Miasek and Law Director Jeff Limbian, are uncomfortable that the ordinances are incomplete and don’t follow federal guidelines for the ARP money.

Ray said Wednesday that council plans to have a meeting with the administration to work out these issues.

“Compliance has to happen so the money is spent correctly,” he said.

Council has approved about $1.2 million in projects its members sponsored for the wards. To date, the board of control has authorized spending only $160,000 to purchase a former McDonald’s restaurant at 2525 Market St. to turn into a police substation.

dskolnick@vindy.com

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