Warren Developer Marvin Eyes 2 Youngstown Sites, Including 20 Federal

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Warren developer Mark Marvin remains interested in doing a project in downtown Youngstown, but whether that will be a redevelopment of 20 Federal Place or another property remains to be seen.

Marvin, president of Downtown Development Group, acknowledged Wednesday his company has been contacted about another downtown Youngstown location but he has not heard further from the entities looking to develop that property. 

“So yes, there is potentially one additional address that I cannot disclose at this time but other possibilities do exist,” he said in response to emailed questions.   

Downtown Development Group submitted the only proposal for acquiring and redeveloping the city-owned 20 Federal Place by the June 1 deadline set in the city’s request for proposals. The company has redeveloped several downtown Warren properties — among them the Mahoning Building, Robins Theatre and Charbenay’s Wine on the River. 

The 20 Federal Place building, the original home of Strouss’ department store, is “an icon in Youngstown,” something that is “very attractive to us,” Marvin said. The city is experiencing a “renaissance” that, combined with developments at Youngstown State University, provides “a great opportunity for additional growth” and the ability to fill the building.     

“We like to take these types of buildings and repurpose them into either what they used to be or something similar,” Marvin said. “People are, once again, coming to downtown areas for living, shopping and eating, and with this famous address, we feel they would return for not only the nostalgia but for what we think we can offer inside the building through proper marketing and a partnership with the city.”

Based on an assessment by Hunter Morrison, an urban planning consultant under contract with the city, the city initially reported it had received no proposals but that Downtown Development Group and Desmone, a Pittsburgh architectural firm, each had requested an extension of the deadline to continue discussions.

“What was relayed to us was that we did not receive any proposals. We received notice of two interested parties seeking additional time,” said Dana Lantz, deputy law director. Upon later review of the submissions related to a public records request, the law department determined that Downtown Development Group’s submission qualified as a proposal.   

Law director Jeff Limbian said there was a “misappreciation” that proposals, letters of interest, bids and RFPs have different definitions “and some of these words were used interchangeably when they should not have been.”    

Marvin said he could not say why the city did not initially consider his submission a formal proposal. His company responded to the questions in accordance with the request for proposals the city provided, he said, including a parking plan and floor-by floor plans for the building.

“We called our proposal a prospectus and proposal, however it carried with it a detailed response to their questions and a detailed offer for the purchase of the building,” he said. 

“I do believe it was misinterpreted but we never did ask for additional time,” he continued. “We did, however, state that we felt a more detailed review of the guts’of the building would need to take place prior to full acceptance of the contract. There are a lot of unknowns in the building and the city could not provide for our questions at the walk-through. So there is more due diligence on both parties prior to a formal contract being signed.” 

Neither the city nor Marvin would disclose the submissions. During an RFP process, the city doesn’t disclose anything as public record until an award is made or all the proposals are rejected and a new RFP isn’t issued, according to Lantz. 

Marvin acknowledged the possibility of  “misunderstandings or miscommunications” in the process and expressed the hope that his company’s proposal would remain confidential in the event the city considers additional proposals. 

How the city handles the process might affect how he will proceed. It “remains to be determined,” he acknowledged. 

“If our discussions with the city are kept at a certain professional level, then I see no reason not to sit down and present further our vision and also listen to comments, concerns and a possible vision that the city may have,” he said. “We will let the original process play out and if we feel all was handled properly then we look forward to the future possibilities.”

Also unknown is whether the city will extend the deadline for responses to its request for proposals. That’s a question for the city’s community planning and economic development department, Lantz said.

Nikki Posterli, the department’s director, is returning from vacation Thursday, Limbian said.  

“I would imagine we’ll probably regroup on Friday and determine whether additional time should be granted,” he said. 

Related Coverage

May 4: Developers from Across Country Tour 20 Federal Place
April 16: City Gives Developers Tours of 20 Federal Place
April 13: City Releases RFP for $34M 20 Federal Place Redevelopment
March 10: 20 Federal Re-Envisioning Aims for Best Use of Space
March 9: Proposal Unveiled to Give $34M Makeover to 20 Federal

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