Government

City Provides Records of Marchionda Grant Payments

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In response to a public records request by The Business Journal, the city of Youngstown’s economic development office furnished 78 pages of documents related to water and wastewater grants provided downtown developer Dominic Marchionda and related entities.

The Business Journal sought the documents because the office of Ohio Auditor David Yost has subpoenaed Marchionda’s records. Marchionda developed the Flats at Wick, Erie Terminal Place and the Wick Tower, and used the entities he created to develop those projects.

As part of its 2014 audit of Youngstown, the auditor’s office is seeking documents from Marchionda related to the water and wastewater grants the corporate entities received for the projects. Marchionda is fighting the subpoenas.

An examination of the documents shows the city seeking more information or setting additional requirements in each successive agreement.

“For the projects moving forward, as we go to do these more often, we were a bit more structured in terms of what we were looking for,” T. Sharon Woodberry said. Woodberry is the city’s director of community planning and economic development.

The first agreement for a Marchionda project was with USA Campus Suite LLC, the entity formed to build the Flats at Wick, a housing complex that serves Youngstown State University students.

The agreement, approved by the city Board of Control in November 2009, called for a $1.2 million grant to US Campus Suites “for purposes of assisting in certain site preparation,” to wit, water and waterline-related work, associated site remediation and grading, and “any improvements, enhancements and/or upgrades to the water system that may be necessary” to complete the project.

As part of the agreement, in the original council legislation affecting DJM Rental Properties LLC and amended to include US Campus Suites LLC, the developer purchased a closed fire station at 141 Madison Ave. for $1 million.

The funds were wired to US Campus Suites per instructions on a city purchase order. The agreement did not specify submitting proof of work a contractor performed for the water/wastewater work.

Following the first water and wastewater grants, the auditor’s office directed the city finance department to obtain additional information about the funds provided, but offered no guidelines, Woodberry said.

Erie Terminal Place, another multi-unit complex targeted at YSU graduate students and young professionals, was awarded a $350,000 water utility grant according to the original development agreement the Board of Control approved in August 2011.

Marchionda was to spend those funds to improve the waterline serving the property and “any related installations, improvements, enhancements and/or upgrades to the plumbing and/or water system that may be necessary,” states the original development agreement.

The funds were wired to Erie Terminal Place LLC according to a February 2012 email, based on an application and certificate for payment that B&B Contractors Inc. submitted the month before. B&B Contractors Inc., Youngstown, was the general contractor.

Woodberry proposed an additional $220,000 for sewer and waterline improvements after the project ran up $600,000 in “additional expenses,” according to a request for legislation she submitted to the law department.

Needed, she said, were site work, basement and hillside drainage, two retaining walls, removal of brush and trees, storm drainage along North Hazel Street and “hydroseeding hillside,” according to an October 2012 B&B invoice to Marchionda.

The 1st Ward councilwoman at the time, Annie Gillam, sponsored the measure that City Council passed that November. The Board of Control approved an amendment in January 2013 and the $220,000 check was remitted to Erie Terminal Place LLC the following month.

The development agreement approved in July 2014 with Wick Properties, the corporation created for the Wick Tower Apartments project, calls for the city to issue a $500,000 grant to the developer to provide “site specific sanitary and storm sewer water infrastructure and water service to the project site.”

The agreement specifies that the city would provide the funds “by a check issued jointly to the developer and a contractor providing sanitary and storm sewer infrastructure and water service improvements to the project site upon submission of an invoice from contractor.”

Komar Plumbing Co. Inc. in Poland submitted three invoices for payment to Rubino Construction Inc., identified as the project “owner” on the forms. Accompanying the applications were sheets itemizing the expenses.

Three checks totaling $500,000 — $$249,685.37 in August 2014, $200,049.86 in February 2015 and 50,264.77 last July — were jointly made out to Wick Properties and Rubino Construction.

Marchionda formed Rubino Construction with his father-in-law, Fernando Rubino, in 1994.

Woodberry was unsure why Rubino Construction was listed as the owner on the documents. “We just make sure that our payments reflect the development agreement, so we always include the developer as a co-party to the check,” she said.

The Wick Tower opened last fall.

For comparison purposes, The Business Journal requested documentation regarding another project that received water and wastewater funds from the city.

The city provided copies of reimbursement paperwork for the newly opened Wells Building, redeveloped for apartments and offices for Strollo Architects Inc. by an affiliated entity, Wells Associated Renaissance Partners LLC. That project was awarded a $520,000 water and wastewater grant, Woodberry said.

In November, the Wells partnership received $387,189, paid by check, of the total grant authorized, based on documents submitted by its contractor, Mike Coates Construction Inc. in Niles. The documents detail expenses that include plumbing, fire suppression waterlines and storm drains.

Pictured: Wick Tower redeveloped into apartments by Marchionda.

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Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.