YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An iconic building in downtown Youngstown may be put up for sale by the city, but some city leaders say they are skeptical about it.
Some city council members are concerned about the possible sale of 20 Federal Place, especially since they say that building has been instrumental in bringing people back to downtown Youngstown after years of decline.
During his State of the City address in early March, Mayor John McNally said he was considering selling the building, saying he does not believe the government has the financial and personnel resources to serve as an efficient landlord over the long haul.
He repeated his claim during a Youngstown City Council finance committee meeting on Tuesday.
“I don’t like the public sector being a private sector landlord,” McNally said.
He said he thinks right now is a positive time to consider the sale of the building.
“Markets are doing better and we think the finances are in place to make it more suitable for somebody to buy,” McNally said.
The city bought the building in 2005 for $850,000 and has invested more than $3 million into the building. Since the sale, the city has offered inexpensive leases to several businesses, including VXI Global Solutions.
Youngstown 1st Ward Councilwoman Annie Gillam said she is concerned a sale may mean an increase in rental prices.
“The city has provided that [affordable rent] for several years and I believe that’s why we have had such success on filling it up,” Gillam said.
The mayor said the city would try to negotiate a plan to avoid rent hikes for tenants if the building is sold to a private owner.
City Council has requested the building gets an appraisal before any steps are made toward putting the 20 Federal Place building on the market. McNally said he believes they will make money on the building if the city decides to sell.
“We’ll set a minimum price maybe around $2 million or $2.5 million,” he said.
City leaders said they bring in a little less than $1 million annually on income tax for the building, but are optimistic a sale may mean even more tax revenue on top of what they would make from a potential sale.