Millions in Downtown Projects Underway, in Pipeline

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – GreenHeart Companies LLC’s owner and president said he hopes to have the parking deck in downtown’s Legal Arts Centre building operational by the end of October as a first step in the long-term rehabilitation of the property.

The work now underway at the 101 Market St. building is among several redevelopment and infrastructure projects either active or in the works in the downtown area, including the $31 million rehabilitation of Fifth Avenue and other downtown streets and renovations at Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s center for Science & Technology and a Youngstown Business Incubator building.

A GreenHeart subsidiary purchased the Legal Arts Building last year, but work on the structure was put off until the company’s recent completion of the Campus Lofts student housing project, said Brian Angelilli, GreenHeart’s president and owner.

GreenHeart recently demolished the building’s parking deck, which was compromised by long-term water damage over the years, Angelilli said.

Once the new deck is completed, GreenHeart will likely open the deck for fee-based parking – the building is located across from the Mahoning County Courthouse and adjacent to the Thomas D. Lambros Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse – and the company is in discussions with parties interested in the building’s first-floor space, Angelilli said.

“That’s a great location,” he said. “We’ve got people interested in the space. It’s just deciding who we’re going to want to work with.”

GreenHeart recently demolished the Legal Arts Building’s parking deck.

Among the downtown projects under way is the $31 million Smart2 – Strategic & Sustainable, Medical & Manufacturing, Academic & Arts, Residential & Recreational, Technology & Training – Network project, a rehabilitation of Fifth Avenue and several connecting downtown streets.
Ground was broken in July on the Fifth Avenue portion of the work, or phase one of the three-phase project.

That initial phase will involve upgrading the road, reducing the number of lanes and installing bump outs for buses and an autonomous shuttle. Other features of the project will include traffic signal upgrades, enhanced lighting and multi-use paths on either side of the corridor.

The yearlong project is “right on schedule,” said Charles Shasho, Youngstown deputy director of public works, said. “Everything is going very smoothly.”

A separate downtown infrastructure project, the conversion of a stretch of North Phelps Street to a pedestrian mall, is nearing completion. “Everything should be wrapped up by mid- to late-September,” Shasho reported.

Having recently completed new signage and concrete repairs at the Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, Warren-based Dawn Inc. began work mid-month on the Lambros Building.

The main focus of the work at the $1.3 million Lambros project is antiterrorism force protection, including installation of a bollard system that is designed “to resist impact if somebody decides to ram the building,” said Dawn Ochman, president.

The project was on track to be completed in early December but encountered “unforeseen conditions,” Ochman said. Work could run over into spring depending on what decisions the U.S. General Services Administration makes.

Dawn Inc. is serving as construction manager, with Cleveland’s Albert M. Higley Co., of the $25 million renovation of the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County’s Main Library, just north of Central Square.

Ground was broken two weeks ago on the project, which is expected to be completed in early 2022. Phase one of the work is well under way, including demolition of a garage on site and parking lot modifications. Other features of the renovation will include creation of new event spaces and restoration of the building’s historic entrance facing Wick Avenue.

“The goal is to get as much exterior prep work done as we can before the snow falls and then we’ll move inside,” Ochman said.

In the pipeline is a $3.5 million renovation of Oh Wow, which last year bought the McCrory Building in which it is housed.

“We are looking to build on our existing brand, which was developed from the very first day we opened,” said Suzanne Barbati, executive director. “Our intent is to stay true to our mission, our brand and the work that’s been done in the past, and improve on that and be better.”

Oh Wow hired CambridgeSeven, a Massachusetts architectural firm that specializes in children’s museums and science centers, from among 12 firms that responded to its request for qualifications. CambridgeSeven will develop a conceptual plan for the renovation and project phases over the next three weeks, Barbati said.

“One of our goals is to reopen on our 10th anniversary” in 2021, she said. The objective is to have the main floor completed, including the reorientation of the main entrance to face Market Street, in time for the reopening, as well as potentially the basement, where Oh Wow is looking at relocating the sound exhibits.

“If we could address that without a huge expense, that’ll likely make it into the first phase,” Barbati said.

YBI is making plans to renovate Tech Block Building No. 5, the former Vindicator Printing Co. building.

When YBI initially renovated the building, which it unveiled in 2017, it didn’t have sufficient funds to completely build out the space, so much of the second and third floors weren’t improved after being gutted, said CEO Barb Ewing. About 16,000 square feet of space needs to be finished, and YBI also wants to add a “clean room” on the basement level.

The incubator also is looking at freight elevator repairs and roof and brick work, she said.

“We don’t have a waiting list per se, but we do have tenants that would take advantage of the build out once it’s done,” she said.

YBI plans to submit an application in the next three to four weeks for a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and is seeking contributions for the local match, Ewing said. Historically, the grant process takes a year, but the EDA already has much of the information from the grant YBI received for the earlier renovations.

The planned upgrades could cost between $2 million and $2.5 million. “We’re waiting for estimates to come back,” she said.

Youngstown officials also are preparing to move on future projects. At its meeting Thursday, the city’s Board of Control awarded a $971,591 contract to Marucci & Gaffney Excavating, Youngstown, for a downtown bike path that will connect downtown to Mill Creek Park. The intent is to complete that project this year, Shasho said.

At its meeting Wednesday, Youngstown City Council will consider an ordinance authorizing the Board of Control to advertise for bids, proposals and qualifications for phases two and three of the Smart2 project, which will involve smaller scale road improvements to several adjacent downtown streets and implementation of an autonomous shuttle service.

“Those bids are going to go out sometime mid- to late September,” Shasho said. He expects road work to begin next summer but said the exact schedule will be worked out once the contractor is on board.

Pictured at top: GreenHeart Companies LLC looks to have the parking deck in downtown’s Legal Arts Centre building operational by the end of October.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.