New Owner Plans New Look for Rica Building

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The new owner of the Rica Building downtown plans to convert its upper levels into apartments and commercial space.

He has no plans to relocate the Soap Gallery art studio that has occupied its ground floor since 2015. But what Tim Huber does plan is a colorful new mural that would be painted on two sides of the building.

Huber, an investor in several health care businesses as well as part owner of the Prima Cucina Italiana restaurant downtown, said he acquired the building last year from Ohio One Corp., which owns or manages several downtown Youngstown buildings.

Huber and the president of Ohio One, Richard Mills, did not disclose a sale price.

Hubi Properties II LLC was incorporated in June 2021 by Richard E. Mills, president of Ohio One, at 25 E. Boardman St., where Ohio One maintains its headquarters. Michael T. Huber was named statutory agent of Hubi Properties II LLC in December 2021, with his address was changed to 117 S. Champion St., the Rica Building, in February.

Tim Huber, a resident of the downtown for the past five years, said he wanted to take on a project and restore a building. He expressed interest to Mills in the Rica Building, which Ohio One had owned since about 1977 and where Mills resided for several years until he moved out last week.

He called it “a perfect building to be restored.” The building wasn’t being actively marketed, Mills said.

“He was asking me for years to buy the building. He wanted to live in my apartment on the top floor. After years of back and forth, we came to an agreement. He was persistent,” Mills said.

“We’re going to be doing a lot of renovations to the building,” Huber said. That includes converting the third and fourth floors into 4,800-square-foot condominiums and renovating the second floor for commercial space.

The exterior brick will be repointed and a new mural – one that would replace the existing mural, painted in 1986 – is being proposed for the southern and western sides of the building.

Olsavsky Jaminet Architects Inc. is the architect on the project, he said. The city design review committee will consider the mural proposal at its meeting Tuesday. He expects painting of the building to begin in July. “It’s probably a $1 million project,” he said.

The ground floor tenant, the Soap Gallery, is expected to remain for at least the next couple of years. Soap Gallery owners Stephen Poullas and Daniel Rauschenbach are in a two-year lease for the space, he said.

“Those guys have been great guys and I’m not one to go and rip somebody out of somewhere where they’ve been and were taking good care of the place,” Huber said. He also expects the planned mural to complement what they are doing inside the gallery.

Poullas said they plan to remain long term. “Tim has met with us repeatedly about his desire to improve the building and maintain it through decades to come, including key improvements that will benefit tenants,” he said. “We are very excited about the mural as it is a gateway to the arts going into downtown.”

Huber said his goal is to have the building completely occupied within two years. He “probably” will occupy the top floor but that isn’t “etched in stone,” he said.

Mills sees his former building as being in good hands. “He is a stand-up, first-class, honest businessman that I was glad to do business with,” he said.

Pictured: Rendering of how the mural that would be painted on the Rica Building.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.