Vote coming on new use for old building

Struthers Convent

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Struthers City Council is set to vote on a zoning change this week that could put an old building back in service.

The Saint Nicholas Convent on Fifth Street in Struthers has been vacant for nearly three years. If it is approved by Struthers City Council, the empty building will become a dormitory for foreign exchange students from southeast Asia and northern Africa.

“The building is actually in very good condition,” said David Ho, founder of the American Scholar Group. “We’re going to change all the carpets, paint the place, do some upgrades to some of the bathrooms and that’s about it.”

The students will be with the American Scholar Group, a local program to help international students study in the area. There is already a campus in Greenville, Pa.  Adding the Struthers location would allow 80 students between the two campuses.

“We have a long waiting list of students wanting to come, but we have not been able to commit with a definite timeline when the students should be arriving because of the shortage of housing,” said Ho.

The students from third to 12th grades would attend mostly private schools in Mercer County and around Youngstown.

On Monday night, council members held one last hearing about changing the residential zone of the building.

“Everybody here tonight, the people who came and attended the meeting seemed to be in favor of it,” said Mayor Terry Stocker. “They’re excited that we’re going to have, that they chose Struthers.”

City council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday to officially vote on the legislation to change the zoning. Ho would like to have the building ready for students by mid-August.

“It brings another culture into the community,” said Stocker. “It gets our kids to be able to interact with theirs.”

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