Wells Building getting $4 million makeover

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Youngstown city leaders took another step forward Wednesday in the ongoing redevelopment and revitalization of downtown Youngstown.

City Council approved a development agreement for a proposed $4 million renovation of the old Wells Building, at 201 W. Federal St. The building is nearly 100 years old.

A group that includes Strollo Architects plans to invest a substantial amount of the overall project cost to move its offices from 20 W. Federal St. into the ground floor of the former Wells Building and turn the upper three levels into residential apartments.

There will be a total of 12 units, and will be a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 900- to 1,300-square feet.

“With the hope that it addresses the need for housing for professionals on the tech block.  We believe our market will be the incubator, the Taft Technology Center, Turning Technologies, Revere Software and the NAMII Institute,” said Gregg Strollo of Strollo Architects.

Construction on the inside should begin in August and Strollo said they plan to restore the building to what it looked like in 1917.

“We expect it to be an eclectic urban environment.  It will have all the historic charm with the exterior, portions of the interior. The windows will be renovated in historic fashion. There will be portions of wood floors to keep and refinish,” Strollo said.

The building is located across the street from the old Paramount Theater, which recently was demolished.

“It makes it a more walkable downtown, I think, that when you see projects like this, it draws in the younger crowd, and that’s what you want to see when you want that vibrant feel for downtown,” said Youngstown Economic Development Director T. Sharon Woodberry.

She said the project also addresses an unmet housing need for students and young professionals in the downtown area.

“This has been in the works for a couple years, and might be even longer, so to see it finally coming to fruition is just great,” said 1st Ward Councilwoman Annie Gillam. “It means more people downtown, and the more people we get downtown, we can eventually get retail, and we can really see a vibrant city.”

The city will kick in some cash to bridge the funding gap, along with a 12-year tax abatement. Work must begin in August to meet deadlines for tax credits.

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