Adi Offers Plans to Expand His Downtown Circle

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city Design Review Committee approved a new front door and walk-up window for Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli, the first step the owner is taking to expand the store he opened on West Federal Street more than five years ago.

When the committee met Tuesday, Downtown Circle owner Al Adi outlined his plans to expand the shop and make it “more of a grocery store.” The committee approved his request to relocate the door to the center of the storefront, 116 W. Federal St., and add a walk-up window.

Adi is adding fresh meat, poultry, produce and other grocery items to his store’s selection, he said. Eventually he wants to expand the store itself into the space at the rear of his building, now a hookah bar.

“None of these big stores is going to come downtown,” Adi said. “Walmart won’t come. Giant Eagle won’t come. So somebody’s got to do something.”

The expansion, which he estimates would cost $100,000, would involve relocating the hookah bar into the former Pig Iron Press building, 26 N. Phelps St. Adi said he bought that space at a sheriff’s sale. Adding the space would take the store to 6,300 square feet from 4,500, he said.

Before proceeding, Adi said he is exploring the possibility of securing historic preservation tax credits. The structure was built in 1910, according to Mahoning County records.

In March 2013, Michal Naffah of Naffah Hospitality submitted the high bid of $90,000 at a tax auction for the building on Phelps Street, which he and Dominic Marchionda of NYO Property Group planned to redevelop. Building owner Jim Villani, who operates Pig Iron Press, redeemed the property by paying the back taxes before the sale was completed, thereby voiding it.

Adi said yesterday that the sale was final a month after the Aug. 2 auction, and he was headed to the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department to pick up the paperwork to complete the sale.

Committee members asked Adi to return with specifications for a proposed awning that would hang over seating he intends to put in front of the building. Nevertheless, they were pleased with what they heard the downtown businessman say.

“We really appreciate what you’re doing for downtown,” Bill D’Avignon, community development director and design review committee chairman, said.

“That’s a headline,” member John DeFrance said of the proposed expansion.

“I hope everybody starts talking about it like that,” Adi responded.

Individuals who live and work downtown likewise were pleased to learn of the store’s expanding offerings.

Downtown “definitely is in need of a full-service grocery store” but that doesn’t mean a new entity has to move there to fill that need, said downtown resident Phil Kidd, associate director of Youngstown CityScape and owner of Defend Youngstown and Youngstown Nation.

“The expansion of a successful business that has the capacity to provide those services such as Downtown Circle is a great move,” he continued.

Kidd also liked the idea of moving the hookah bar into the North Phelps Street building, which he described as a “very interesting building.” The street is “really shaping up to be a great corridor for entertainment” and connector to Youngstown State University, he said.

“It’s wonderful,” said Ellie Platt, owner and president of Platt Insurance Group, Cortland. Platt, who two years ago opened an office in downtown Youngstown and a year later moved her company’s entire Mahoning County operations here. Platt is a co-founder of Downtown Youngstown Partnership and resides downtown.

Pictured: Al Adi, owner of the Downtown Circle convenience store.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.