YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Friday, Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown welcomed several regional and out-of-town real estate developers interested in redeveloping the 20 W. Federal Building downtown.
The building was constructed in 1926 as a luxury department store by Strouss-Hirschberg Company. Decades later, it was the headquarters for the locally-based Phar-Mor Corporation. Its largest tenant now is the VXI call center, and the city still has some offices there.
The 332,000-square-foot building sits within the city’s principal retail district adjacent to Youngstown State University and more than $500M in new and renovated apartments, hospitality, civic and entrepreneurial investments.
One of those on the tour was local architect Paul Hagman who says the property offers a great location.
“Truly in the center of downtown. You’ve got access on three sides of the building,” Hagman said.
Although Hagman is not looking to buy the building himself, he can spread the word to others.
“I think we’ve all got broad networks. A part of the success of this project is going to be reaching out to those networks and trying to attract people who are interested in developing buildings, architects, developers, the whole gamut,” Hagman said.
Another on the tour was architect Anissa Neider who has been working on the project to turn part of Phelps Street into a pedestrian plaza. She is also involved in the renovation of the old Republic Steel warehouse on East Federal, turning it into the headquarters of Penguin City Brewing. Neider says finding the right developer will be crucial.
“This the city center of Youngstown. Like I mentioned in the Penguin proposal, this Youngstown. We are coming back, and we’re better than ever,” she said
Youngstown and its real estate consultant, Steadfast City Economic & Community Partners (St. Louis MO), issued an RFP for redevelopers on April 1. Friday is one of two scheduled tours with developers, the other date being May 3 where additional out-of-town developer teams are scheduled to attend.
“We are excited to welcome these potential investors to downtown Youngstown Ohio,” said Mayor Brown. “The interest we have seen from the regional and national real estate development community is a testament to Youngstown’s trajectory, entrepreneurial spirit, and limitless future.”
The city’s building maintenance team is providing interested redevelopers a look into current building conditions from the basement to the rooftop and there will also be a question and answer session.
Also available on the website is a prospectus detailing desired uses for the building based on community input and a financial plan for its redevelopment, including architectural drawings as developed by Steadfast and local Youngstown-based architectural firms Strollo Architects and BSHM.
“Our collective consulting team has been meeting with Youngstown stakeholders since last August and there is great community excitement for this,” said Allison Gray, vice president of Steadfast City Economic & Community Partners. “Downtown Youngstown Ohio with its strategic location in the center of a megapolitan region of seven million people, continued evolution as one of the leading entrepreneurial centers in the U.S., and adjacency to a world class University makes this a great long-term investment.”
Youngstown is seeking to identify a capable redeveloper or team of redevelopers to acquire the property and lead its transformation, with proposals due June 1.
The City hopes to select a redeveloper and negotiate a sale and redevelopment agreement by October of 2021.