Mayor Wants Fast Action from Gallagher’s New Owner

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The new owner of the Gallagher Building downtown needs to make something happen with it soon, Mayor John McNally said.

“It can’t just be something where we transfer ownership and then we transfer ownership. That’s not going to be sufficient. Something needs to happen,” he tells The Business Journal.

Ryan Sheridan, owner of Braking Point Recovery Center, with locations in Austintown and Columbus, acquired the building Tuesday, according to Mahoning County property records. He purchased the building from the Gatta Co., Niles, for $280,000.

Dominic Gatta III, owner of the Gatta Co., with his father, Dominic Gatta Jr., purchased the building in 2012 for $192,500. He had intended to convert the building, longtime home of the Cedar’s Lounge, into apartments with a restaurant-brewery.

Cedar’s relocated to the West Side in anticipation of the project.

Sheridan said his interest in the building, which sits at the corner of North Hazel and Commerce Streets, was spurred by discussions with Dominic Marchionda, managing member of NYO Property Group, whom he has known for some time.

“We were talking about real estate available downtown” and the Gallagher Building “came up in conversation,” he recalled. He began discussions with Gatta early last year about acquiring the building, which was built in 1904, according to county records.

“It  took some time to get through the whole process,” Sheridan said.

In January 2015, Gatta, who successfully redeveloped the Federal Building downtown and had secured a $1.3 million Ohio Historic Preservation tax credit for the Gallagher project, said he expected to begin work “in the next couple of months” on the $5.9 million project with an expected 2016 completion.

Gatta incurred $1,600 in city code enforcement penalties last year due to the condition of the property. Those fines transfer with the property, said Abigail Beniston, code enforcement and blight remediation superintendent for the city.

McNally said Thursday there needs to be “quick progress on that building” and identifying what Sheridan’s “concrete plans” are to improve the structure. Although pleased he “wants to participate in the continued growth of downtown,” not much of what he has seen in initial media reports is different from what Gatta had planned, the mayor said.

Sheridan said Thursday he would like to develop professional space on the ground floor of the three-story building and a café incorporating the building’s enclosed patio, and “some type of housing” on the upper levels. He already has had inquiries from local attorneys regarding the proposed office space, he said. “I think [McNally] is going to be impressed with how quickly I can accomplish things.”

“The devil is in the details and the devil is in the timeframes that he may or may not have established on how quickly he wants to move forward,” McNally said.

There is a possibility of additional fines or other code enforcement remedies to complete compliance, Beniston said. The building has “serious problems” throughout that need to be resolved, she noted.

“Until renovations begin, the property needs to be maintained with regular routine maintenance and the property needs to be completely secured,” she said. The city will send a notice to the new owner.

“We’re at a point of figuring out what our next step is. Code enforcement doesn’t have just one remedy,” she said. “Once we see what the owner’s intentions are or how quickly work gets started, we can choose the best process to handle this situation.”

Sheridan reported he has started to clean and board up the property. He is in discussions with state officials regarding transfer of the tax credits and is talking with bankers he has worked with on other projects. Since his purchase of the Gallagher Building became public, lenders have reached out to him, he said.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.