Owner Touts Apollo Building as ‘Showpiece’ for Downtown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The owner of the Apollo Building downtown said he hopes to open a planned event space there in December.

Tim Huber, who bought the former Rica Building from Ohio One Corp. in 2022, provided an update on his plans for the property Wednesday afternoon during the Rotary Club of Youngstown’s weekly meeting.  

Huber, who also co-owns Canfield-based Inspira Health Group and is involved with several other businesses, is in the midst of what he estimated will be a $2.5 million renovation of the building.

“It’s going to be absolutely beautiful. It will be a showpiece for downtown Youngstown,” he predicted.

Built in 1900, the building that was known as the Rica Building until Huber rechristened it last year, had been used as a warehouse by one of the companies that eventually formed Ohio Edison, said Bill Lawson, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

Huber said he was interested in moving downtown because of its central location to Cleveland, Ashtabula and Pittsburgh, where his businesses operate, but finding a property that was available to buy was a challenge, he said. He eventually entered into negotiations that lasted 2 1/2 years with Ohio One President Rich Mills, who initially was uninterested in selling the building, where he also lived.

After acquiring the building, Huber commissioned local muralist Patrick McGlone to paint murals on two sides of the building. The southern face features a brightly colored abstract homage to its previous appearance, depicting an old-fashioned building with wood-framed windows that faded in recent years, while the eastern face features a 40-foot depiction of the Greek god Apollo.

He also replaced all the building’s windows.

Work is underway on the building’s interior. The ground floor, where The Soap Gallery operated until earlier this year, is being renovated to do business as Apollo Events Center, operated by Prima Events Catering, which he owns with Josh Santangelo. He and Santangelo also co-own Prima Cucina Ristorante downtown.

“We’re hoping we’ll have that business open by December,” Huber said.

The top floor, where Mills lived for several years before he sold the building and where Huber plans to use as his residence, should be finished in October or November, he said. He also has an agreement in place for a local architectural firm to occupy the second floor and a 10-year lease with Steelite International, which has a showroom in downtown’s Commerce Building, to use the third floor as private quarters for out-of-town visitors.

Following the meeting, Huber said he expects Bar Vina, which he also co-owns with Santangelo, to open in the Erie Terminal Building once construction is completed on West Commerce Street.

“Prima is probably going to be moving over there,” he added. 

Deanna Rossi, investment adviser and branch supervisor at the downtown office of TransAmerica Financial Advisors and Youngstown Rotary president, had encouraged Huber to consider moving downtown several years ago. A downtown resident as well as business owner, she expressed enthusiasm about the improvements Huber is making in the city’s central business district and hopes others follow his lead.

“Seeing anyone make a sizable investment in our downtown to take us to a whole other level and to elevate our downtown and our community not only warms my heart, but it really makes a difference in an impact with all the different people that he’s employing to do that,” she said. “Not only that, but it’s also beautifying the downtown and taking it to another level.”

Pictured at top: Tim Huber stands in front of the Apollo Building in downtown Youngstown.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.