City Considers Fate of Fire-torn Masters Property

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The city will await the results of a Phase II environmental assessment of the former Masters Tuxedo property and discussions with Youngstown fire Department officials before determining how it will proceed following a fire that gutted the structure.

The city code enforcement department had planned to partially demolish the front part of the building and was taking bids for demolition of the remaining portion of the structure, said T. Sharon Woodberry, the city’s director of community planning and economic development.

The building also was one of the sites undergoing a Phase II environmental assessment funded by a $200,000 brownfield assessment grant the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the city in 2017. Mannik & Smith Group, Cleveland, completed its assessment work at the site about a month ago but has yet to submit its report on the property to the city, Woodberry said.  

Fire crews had the blaze at Masters Tuxedo under control by 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Once the city receives the assessment and officials discuss the state of the site with Fire Chief Barry Finley, they will determine how to proceed and whether that changes how the city proceeds, she said. A timeline for cleaning the site also depends on what the Phase 2 assessment shows and what funds might be available for any needed remediation of the site.

“It is still our intent to have all of the information that we need in order to be able to speak to an investor and let them know what the condition of the site itself is,” she said. “We will have to sit down and see whether this changed our method of us doing that or not.”

The fire department was alerted to the blaze at the 3600 Market St. building at 11:16 p.m. Tuesday, with units arriving beginning three minutes later, according to the YFD report. 

“We had seven trucks total on scene throughout the course of the night,” said Battaltion Chief Charlie Smith.

Crews had the blaze under control by 4 a.m. Wednesday, according to the report. Six hours later, a single engine was on-site to douse the remaining flames and cool the site as partial demolition of the building was underway.

Mahoning County records show the building was built in 1950 and remodeled in 1989. Records of the Mahoning County Historical Society and the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County show Masters Tuxedo in the building the following year.   

Before Masters took over the property, the space was occupied by Paul Morris Sporting Goods, which historical society and library records show opened there in 1971 and last used the building in 1987.

A bowling alley, Mar-Hill Lanes, also occupied a portion of the building from 1951 to 1994. 

When it vacated the building, Masters left thousands of tuxedoes in the building, YFD’s Smith said. “They just locked the door and left,” he remarked. 

The building is owned by the city land bank, which acquired the property in December 2010, county records show. In 2014, the city leased the property to registered nurse Corey Kemp, who planned to renovate about 5,000 square feet of the 23,690-square-foot structure and open a training center for nurses aides.

“He was unable to secure the funding to accomplish what he thought he could do so it just didn’t move forward,” Woodberry said. 

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Anita Davis is optimistic the site will be put back into productive use. 

“Someone expressed an interest in the property. That was before the fire,” she remarked. 

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.