Design Review Panel OKs Mixed-use Plan for Huntington Building

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city’s Design Review Committee this morning gave its general approval to a conceptual plan to redevelop the Huntington National Bank Building downtown.

Annissa Neider, project architect with A Neider Architecture, Canfield, addressed the committee on behalf of 22 Market Street Ohio, a New York development firm she identified as the new owner of the building.

The developer is seeking to change the building, which was designed by renowned Detroit architect Albert Kahn and built in 1910, from strictly commercial use, as it is now, to a mixed-use space. The first four floors would remain as commercial space but the upper nine levels would be converted to residential units, Neider said.

Most of the residential levels would have a studio apartment, three two-bedroom units and four one-bedroom spaces, she said. The top floor might have one or two fewer units, depending on how the heating/ventilation/air conditioning system works out.

The plan is to bring the building’s corridors back to their “historic charm,” similar to the redevelopment of the Stambaugh Building, where the DoubleTree by Hilton Youngstown Downtown operates, and maintain features such as the marble floors and wainscoting and oak doors and trim to qualify for historic preservation tax credits.

Neider said her focus is on the residential floors, although the entire property will need sprinklers to bring it up to code. She anticipated that commercial tenants would submit their own plans for their spaces, although she is unaware of the identity of any potential tenants. 

“We’re in the infancy stages here in the planning and development,” she said. “We’re still doing a lot of field investigations” with a lot of “exploratory demolition” needing to be done to “see what the guts of this old building look like” before plans and designs are finalized.   

Also, no changes are planned for the building’s façade, other than cleaning that might need to take place.

“We’re just going to breathe a little bit of new life in this building,” she said.

Mahoning County property records still show the 13-story building is owned by Mahoning National Bank of Youngstown, the Huntington predecessor the building was constructed for. Columbus-based Huntington announced plans to sell the building a year ago and to relocate its downtown office to the Stambaugh Building. The bank subsequently said it would return to the Huntington building after renovating the space this year.

“We are still the owner of this building, and no closing of any deal to sell has occurred,” Huntington spokesman David Miller said in an email Tuesday afternoon.

The bank still plans to move back into the building, according to Sam Huston, Mahoning Valley community president.

“Huntington is aware the building is for sale, and we remain committed to Youngstown and 23 Federal Plaza West,” he said. “We intend to open a ground floor branch in this historic building and believe this solidifies our significant commitment to the downtown core.”

Historical preservation consultants are focusing on the north side of the building where the bank branch used to be, according to Neider. “It’s such a beautiful space and it needs to be preserved as such,” she said.

Although the design review committee wasn’t required to be shown the plans, Bill D’Avignon, a committee member, said it was good to see what was being planned for the building.

Also during the meeting, the committee approved, contingent on staff review, for West 34 Investors LLC to mount a four-foot-by-four-foot condenser unit at the restaurant/bar, 34 W. Federal St., to supplement the two existing interior air conditioning units.    

Hunter Morrison, a planning consultant contracted to work for the city, originally recommended that West 34 come back to the committee in September. But owner Rich Kaszowski, requested expedited approval because of expected hot temperatures this month.

August is “normally is the hottest month of the year, right?” he said. “We had to shut down because it was 90-plus in that restaurant. If we could expedite this, then I’d appreciate that.”

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