Loans build bridge to new cityscape

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A pair of downtown building projects can move forward thanks to bridge loans approved Wednesday night by Youngstown City Council.

The bridge loans are just that, a bridge to keep money plans and progress flowing on a couple of projects: To breathe new life into two vacant buildings and bolster one of Youngstown’s fastest-growing neighborhoods.

The downtown area of Youngstown has seen a rebirth over the last few years and to help keep the momentum going the City of Youngstown will loan a total of about $43 million to two developers: $700,000 to Strollo Architects, who plan to turn the Wells Building into its new office and headquarters on the first floor with apartments on top.  And a little more than $2 million to NYO Property Group, looking to turn the Wick Building into a 52-unit rental and extended stay facility.

“What they’re going to do is to allow for the city to accept the state historic tax credit as collateral for these projects to go forward,” said David Bozanich, Youngstown finance director. “We’ll be lending the money out for a period of about 18 months at an interest rate of about three percent”

The projects total about a $20 million investment on West Federal Street. Developers have already been awarded historic tax credits from the state and federal government to renovate the buildings which were built in 1910 and 1917. The projects should be complete by the end of the year.

“We want to do what we can to bring those monies in. We want this $20 million spent in Youngstown, not in Columbus or Cincinnati,” said Bozanich.

Youngstown Councilwoman Janet Tarpley said approving the loans shows a commitment to developers who see potential in the city.

“You have to take a chance on individuals who believe in the city,” said Tarpley. “To me, both of these of companies believe in the city, and we have to believe in them.”

Dominic Marchionda of NYO Property Group owns the Wick Building. He said without the loan, the project would take much longer and might not happen at all.

Council President Charles Sammarone said the same is true for the Wells building. Without the loan approval, the building would have probably been demolished.

City leaders feel the loans are low-risk and will be paid back when the renovation projects are done.

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