Chase Tower Sells at Auction for $1.15 Million

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — After a three-day auction, a redevelopment investment group based in Miami, Fla. placed the winning $1.15 million bid for the historic Chase Tower building downtown.

The auction closed Wednesday afternoon after starting April 19. Alex Jelepis, executive vice president and director of NAI Pleasant Valley, managed the auction, which was held online via the Ten-X Commercial website.

In 2008, Jelepis handled the $775,000 sale of the building to USA Chase Building Youngstown LLC, an entity of The Frangos Group. He said the new owner will bring a “fresh perspective” to the downtown marketplace.

“They’re going to look at that building as a redevelopment,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a banking facility ever again.”

Jelepis declined to confirm the closing price, but a source familiar with the transaction confirmed the winning bid of $1,150,000.

Designed and built in 1928 by Walker & Weeks Architects, the 135,300-square-foot historically intact Classic Era building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Mahoning County. By today’s standards, the dramatic space inside the historic banking hall is “improperly sized” and obsolete for a bank, Jelepis said.

A better use of the space would be an upscale steakhouse or seafood restaurant; something consumer-oriented “that’s going to bring new life into that corner,” he says. Possibly converting some of the upper floors to residential living.

“That’s exactly how they feel about it,” he said, referring to the buyer. “They’re pretty excited. They’re well-funded and they’re experienced.”

The buyer was one of 10 bidders who were pre-qualified to place a bid on the building, Jelepis said, although the auction drew “dozens and dozens” of potential bidders. None of the active bidders were local to the Youngstown area, he said.

Historically intact, pre-World War II buildings usually draw a lot of interest because of the architecture.

“It’s going to look the same 100 years from now,” he said. “People love that because they’re not making any more of them.”

Chase Tower was the last real estate holding for The Frangos Group in the Youngstown area, confirmed Damon Frangos, president of USA Parking.

“It was definitely a bittersweet day for us, but we’re really excited for the new owner, for their plans for the building, and we wish them luck,” Frangos said.

Frangos Group currently isn’t eyeing any properties in the area, but “we are always looking,” he said. Between the potential for redevelopment of Chase Tower, the proposed redevelopment of 20 Federal Place and other projects in and around the city, “Things are looking up for Youngstown,” he said.

The sale of Chase Tower will complement the city’s efforts to market 20 Federal Place, agreed T. Sharon Woodberry, city director of economic development. She said there could be some synergy between the two buildings in terms of activity in the downtown real estate market.

“That building is significant to downtown in terms of the amount of space and the history associated with it,” Woodberry said. “It helps tell a narrative and shows there’s activity that’s happening.

“We’ll be interested to see what the proposed use is,” she said.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.