Wellsville Foundation Sees Bank Building as Prime for Redevelopment

WELLSVILLE, Ohio — Adjacent buildings with historical significance to this village may be integral to its economic redevelopment now that the Wellsville Community Foundation owns the structures.

The foundation, formed in 2020 by a group of citizens, held an open house Thursday at the building formerly operated by CF Bank, 601 and 603 Main St. The foundation was given the building, now houses its office there and is making the rest of the space available for development.

Foundation President Eddie Murphy said members of the group began to have conversations a year ago about what they could do to “reboot our beloved community.” Despite the unsettled times surrounding the pandemic, “We did not settle for conversation,” she said.

The foundation was formed in December and obtained its 501(c)3 nonprofit designation in May. Joining Murphy on the board of trustees are county Judge Timothy McNicol, vice president; attorney Nick Amato; Chrissy Belden, treasurer; Linda Weekley, secretary; Peter Russell, incorporator; and Robert Geno Williamson, trustee. 

Within its first six months of operation, foundation volunteers initiated a clean-street program, starting at the northern end of town and working their way south. Murphy said the plan is to begin asking residents to help with the project.

In its second six months, the foundation was given the former Central Federal Bank building on Main Street. CF Bank ceased operations in 2013.

The original bank building was constructed in 1892 as the Central Federal Savings & Loan Bank, with the addition erected in 1987. The buildings cover 8,000 square feet that includes 10 enclosed offices, three conference rooms and two open lobbies, all of which the foundation believes lend themselves to economic redevelopment. 

Open house attendees look at the original bank vault in the basement of the historic part of the building, which was constructed in 1892 as the Central Federal Savings & Loan Bank.

The foundation accepted the gift with no restrictions. But, according to Russell, it nearly “chickened out” when members noted damage to the exterior masonry wall.

CF Bank gave the foundation $5,000 to help to fund an $18,000 repair bid and Russell announced another $15,000 was subsequently contributed by the Go Healthy Foundation, which also gave $2,000 toward painting the wall.  

The roofs on are in good shape, according to Russell, who said CF Bank spent $42,000 to replace them a year ago, although ceiling tiles inside will need to be replaced. With fire doors in place, Russell said he believes the combined buildings could safely be separated into two units.

Russell said the foundation is free to sell, rent or develop the buildings in any way, guided by what uses are identified.

Noting the building has been “embedded in the history of Wellsville since 1892,” Murphy said using the building to promote economic development was “long overdue.”

Mayor Pro Tem Randy Allmon agreed.

“To me this is the greatest little town in the state of Ohio. This is a chance for Wellsville to grow and give something back to the community,” he said.

Allmon offered any help his office can provide and introduced two members of the village council, Karen Dash and Keith Thorn, whom he said are “part of a team down [at Village Hall] that’s remarkable. I never saw a council come together like this. All they have in their hearts is to make Wellsville a better place.”

The open house was co-hosted by the Columbiana County Port Authority and Department of Economic Development.

The executive director of the port authority, Penny Traina, said she is “very appreciative” of the Wellsville Community Foundation’s hard work and efforts.

“I am from Wellsville and there’s no place like home,” Traina added. 

Following tours of the building, Murphy encouraged those in attendance to discuss their ideas for reuse of the site.

One suggestion came from village fiscal officer Hoi Wah, who said she would like to see the building transformed into a medical clinic since residents must travel to Jefferson County or into Calcutta for such services. 

Wah noted that Wellsville has just one doctor in residence, no dentists and that residents of nearby communities such as Hammondsville and Irondale might also make use of such a clinic.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.