Work at 20 Federal Place downtown delayed again

Staff file photo... Someone walks by the 20 Federal Place building downtown in late April 2023 after a $7.1 million project had just begun. The completion date for the remediation and partial demolition of the city-owned building has been pushed back to April 1.

YOUNGSTOWN — The completion date for the remediation and partial demolition project at 20 Federal Place has been pushed back again.

The $7.1 million project, which started in April 2023, initially was scheduled for completion in November. It was then delayed to this month because of additional work needed at the city-owned building and a lawsuit from its last remaining tenant.

But issues with a wall inside the building pushed the completion date to April 1, said Charles Shasho, the city’s deputy director of public works.

“Structural engineers had to look at a new wall, which caused a delay,” he said. “They’re putting it up now. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be done by April 1.”

Most of the work on the downtown building’s upper floors is done with some work left in the basement, Shasho said.

Shasho described the interior of the gutted building as looking “like a zombie apocalypse movie. If you were to put fake smoke with small fires, it would look like a doomsday movie.”

But Shasho said the intention was to demolish the inside of the building so it could be redeveloped.

“It’s well demolished,” he said. “It’s all gutted. All of the asbestos is gone. It’s ready to be rebuilt. Everything in between the outside walls is gone. It will be one of the nicest buildings downtown. We’re pretty excited about it.”

The first delay, Shasho previously said, was caused by steel found concealed in the escalators; the need to redesign the foundation; and new walls required in the basement as well as an ongoing lawsuit from Carrier Services Group, which was the building’s last tenant.

Carrier is suing the city and other parties, including Shasho and Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, for more than $500,000 claiming damage to its property and equipment when it was evicted from 20 Federal Place.

Nineteen tenants, taking up about 20% of the 332,000-square-foot building before eviction, were sent notices in July 2022. Some of the tenants received extensions.

Many of the former tenants found other locations while some went out of business.

The city received a $6.96 million Ohio Brownfield Remediation grant, announced June 2022, for the remediation and partial demolition of the downtown building.

The city provided $2.32 million of its own money for the project, largely for architectural designs, project management and costs related to trying to seek additional grants for the building.

Without the city’s knowledge, Desmone Architects, a Pittsburgh company involved in plans for the building, reapplied and received a $10 million state historic preservation tax credit for 20 Federal Place, announced Dec. 21. That also comes with $14 million in federal historic preservation tax credits.

City council on Wednesday will consider legislation to pay a $50,000 application fee to the state for the tax credit application. The fee is due by March 20.

Desmone’s application to the state stated an $82,137,690 project is planned at 20 Federal Place though no project has been finalized and a redeveloper hasn’t been found.

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 many decades.

The city has tried unsuccessfully to sell the building in the past.


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