First National Tower to Get $1.2M Upgrade, Chamber Plans Move

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – About $1.2 million in upgrades are planned this year for the First National Bank Tower by its new owners.

Work is underway on the building, the tallest building in the Mahoning Valley, which is poised to lose one of its major tenants, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.

Big Blue Properties LLC Series XXI, based in Henderson, Nev., purchased the 1 W. Federal St. building last November for $1.14 million.

“We think the iron is hot in downtown and we think it’s premium space,” said Don Thomas, managing partner with Platz Realty Group, leasing agent for the tower.

According to Thomas, 52% of the 78,000-square-foot building is currently occupied. Big Blue has a letter of intent signed with a telecommunications company and is working out a lease for the 15th floor.

The chamber, which occupies the 15th and 16th floors in the First National tower, will move to the fifth floor of City Centre One, owned by Ohio One Corp.

That space is occupied by the Western Reserve Port Authority. WRPA representatives confirmed at their meeting Wednesday that the port authority would move to the fourth floor of City Centre One once that space is ready, and the chamber would move into its fifth-floor space.

Ohio One is “working on our new offices now,” said John Moliterno, WRPA executive director. In terms of size, the two spaces are about the same, he said.

The president of Ohio One, Richard E. Mills, could not be reached for comment regarding the move.

Sarah Boyarko, chief operating officer and senior vice president, economic development for the chamber, said she is unable to comment until details are finalized on the chamber’s end.

The chamber has been operating on a month-to-month lease for the First National space in recent months, Thomas said. He expects the chamber to move in 60 to 90 days.

Big Blue Properties’ renovation plan begins with repairing the tucking and pointing of the building’s exterior, followed by replacing the building’s roof, Thomas said. Then, the building’s exterior will be relighted, followed by a pressure wash and replacement of the lobby doors with a carousel so the entrance is “more in line with how the building was originally architected,” he said.

“It will go back to how it was in its heyday,” visible from multiple thoroughfares including Interstate 680, Market Street and Belmont Avenue, he said.

In the 17th floor meeting space, the carpet is being replaced with ceramic tile that will be carried down the stairway to the 16th floor lobby and elevator corridor, he said. The 16th floor will get a facelift as soon as the chamber vacates the space.

LED lighting will be installed throughout the building, beginning with the 17th floor and the chamber space, and then move throughout the building, Thomas said. Upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will take place as space is leased.

The exterior work hopefully will be done by July, but that timeline is weather dependent, Thomas said. Big Blue Properties also obtaining construction permits for work on the building’s fifth floor, which has been vacant for years.

The chamber’s move will put three of the Mahoning Valley’s key economic development organizations in the same building. In addition to the port authority, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments is on the 10th floor of City Centre One.

“It puts us in close proximity with all the entities we deal with on a regular basis,” Moliterno said.

The $1.2 million in work planned for the First National Bank Tower is just the beginning, as Big Blue wants the property “back to its former glory,” according to Thomas. The owner has given him a checkbook and “hasn’t said ‘no’ yet,” he said.

“There will be other upgrades in the building as we go. But for the first year the strategy is to stabilize it and get the repairs needed done.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.