Economic Development

Convenience Store Planned for Former Tokyo House Site

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The former Tokyo House property will be redeveloped with construction of a gas station and convenience store at the site. 

The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission approved Countrywide Petroleum Inc.’s request Tuesday to establish a regulated use – a gas station/convenience store selling beer and wine for carryout — at 1907 South Ave. 

The request was one of several items on the panel’s agenda.  

Countrywide Petroleum purchased the property at the end of June, Sarah Singh of Poland said. Singh, who owns Countrywide Petroleum and is a real estate agent with Century 21, said she also owns the neighboring properties fronting South Avenue between Dickson Street to the north and Samuel Avenue to the south. 

Construction of the 5,000-square-foot structure hopefully will begin in the spring and will take about three months, she said. She is in the process of securing a carryout license for beer and wine for the proposed store. There is a liquor license attached to the property, but it is for on-premises consumption. 

Singh plans to invest nearly $1 million in the site, said her attorney, Chris Sammarone. The project will involve demolishing the Tokyo House building, which is “dilapidated,” he said. 

“We’re talking about a well-lit, good-looking development project on that corner, which is really close to the exit of [Interstate] 680,” he said. “So it’ll be very visible for people that are traveling through the city to see new development.” 

Discussions are underway to determine what brand of gasoline the station will offer and which two or three franchises, including Subway, will provide food at the site.

Other items on the agenda included requests for variances for a longtime Mahoning Avenue business and to establish a second-hand store within a 500-foot radius of other regulated uses in the downtown entertainment district.

Olsavsky Jaminet Architects, Youngstown, initially sought variances to eliminate landscaping requirements for street trees and for placement of outside storage areas and docks for a proposed 4,785-square-foot dry goods building at Santisi Wholesale Food Co., 832 Mahoning Ave. 

“We’re out of space,” Mike Santisi, president, said during a phone interview following Tuesday’s meeting. “We’re always looking down the road. It’s part of lasting in the wholesale business.” 

Before Tuesday’s meeting, discussions between project architect Ray Jaminet and Laura Fulmer, zoning officer, had determined that the two variances were required, Fulmer said. 

At the meeting, John DeFrance, another architect with Olsavsky Jaminet, argued that the variances weren’t required based on his reading of the zoning ordinances. For example, the new building will not have exterior docks or loading, which triggered the need for one of the variances sought. 

Santisi is willing to do landscaping “where it’s practical and possible,” DeFrance added. 

At the recommendation of Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works and chairman of the committee, members deferred the item to give the architects and Fulmer the opportunity to discuss the issues involved. If they determine no variance is needed, the committee can vote to remove the items at the next meeting without Santisi’s representatives having to appear again. 

The panel approved Liz Krumprakob’s request for permission for the second-hand store at 101 W. Federal St., although second-hand items will represent only a portion of her inventory, she said.  

Krumprakob is working on finalizing a deal to lease 475 square feet of space on the second floor of the building where Whistle & Keg occupies the lower level. She said she plans to sell mostly clothing, novelty items, imports and quartz crystals. 

Her goal is to be in the space before Halloween, or “as soon as possible,” she said.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.