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Another historical piece of downtown Youngstown’s landscape is about to meet the wrecking ball.
The former Kress Building, built almost 90 years ago on West Federal Street, could be coming down within the next six months. Despite a number of attempts to find funding and developers to save the once popular five-and-dime department store, the building is beyond repair.
There are holes in the roof and walls that have led to decades of water and environmental damage. The huge wood beams supporting the first floor are broken and falling into the basement, and there is vegetation growing out of the roof, as well as out of the Terracotta facade.
Administrators with the Youngstown Area Community Improvement Corp. said the structure already was in pretty bad shape when the CIC took over the site in the mid-1990’s.
“When you get these buildings, they’re already in that advanced state. It’s kinda like a cancer. It just goes to a further advanced stage. You can’t turn back without millions and millions of dollars and economics doesn’t provide it,” said Youngstown Area CIC project manager Dave Kosec. “We’ve tried for 20-plus years, trying to develop a project out of it. But at this point, it’s unsound and economics and engineering say there’s no point of anything except demolition.”
There has been interest in the building in recent years. The Mahoning Valley Historical Society looked at it seven years ago.
“We walked through the building and it was bad then, but it had a lot of opportunity,” said Mahoning Valley Historical Society Executive Director Bill Lawson.
Although private developers are working to revitalize sites like the Wells and Wick Buildings, others such as the old Paramount Theater have been lost.
“We’re lacking in the merger of investment, funds and imagination to make projects happen,” Lawson said.
Kosec said the demand for space also comes into play.