Economic Development

YBI Expansion Should Be Ready by Year-end, CIC Told

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Work on Tech Block 5 of the Youngstown Business Incubator, the old Vindicator building, should be completed by year-end, the board of the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp. learned Tuesday.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration, which is granting $3 million toward the repurposing of the old newspaper plant, has signed off on the historical significance variances, Dave Kosec reported.

Kosec is building manager of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, which manages the downtown CIC under contract.

Bids will be available Friday to contractors that want to bid on the project, Kosec reported, and the bids they submit opened on or about April 29 or May 2. So work could begin as early as early May and be completed in six to eight months with occupancy all but certain by the end of the year.

Now that Strollo Architects has completed renovating the Wells Building and moved its offices there, the Regional Chamber is optimistic about reclaiming the vacant State Theatre/Armed Forces property and returning it to use, Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the chamber reported.

The State Theatre sits empty just west of the Wells Building and an unusable empty space lies between them. “The Wells Building is done,” Humphries said, “so opportunities are presenting themselves.”

Added Kosec, “We have the hope of putting a project together there this year.”

The chamber has been in discussions with “interested parties” that have “tangible and realistic plans,” Humphries said afterward, declining to elaborate because “We can’t say anything yet.”

Of Strollo’s commitment to the downtown, Humphries told the CIC board, “The $5 million commitment in Wells makes quite a statement.”

Of the State Theatre, Kosec told reporters, “We could’ve made it into a parking lot 10 years ago,” before pointing out another window to a parking lot where the old Paramount Theater once stood.

The “structural integrity of the State is uncertain,” Kosec related. “We’ve got people with ideas.” Reminded of the early days of the CIC when its staff was approached by people with ideas but expected the redevelopment agency to provide 100% financing, Kosec stated, “We’re not providing any of the financing!”

The CIC is recording a small profit so far this fiscal year, at least $25,000, its chief financial officer, Bruce Luntz, reported. Affecting income are lower revenues from the parking lots the CIC owns but the reduced income was more than offset by “less snow removal expense” and a 3% increase in rents charged the state agencies that occupy the Voinovich Government Center.

The CIC will spend $10,000 next month to repave, reseal and repaint the lines in its parking lots, Luntz said.

He also reported the audit for fiscal 2015, which ended last June 30, was conducted by Perry & Associates CPAs, Marietta. The auditors gave the CIC “a clean opinion,” Luntz said, finding everything in order.

The auditor of state solicits bids for such audits and awards three-year contracts. Perry was paid roughly $3,500 to perform its audit of the CIC, Luntz said.

Pictured: Former Vindicator building downtown, which will become the Youngstown Business Incubator’s fifth building.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.