Strollo in Talks with Banks about Financing Project

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Strollo Architects is in discussions with three banks on how it would finance the rehabilitation of the Wells Building on West Federal Street, where it hopes to move its offices, the board of the downtown CIC learned Wednesday.

The banks were not identified but CIC board member Pete Asimakopoulos, executive vice president for small-business banking at First National Bank of Pennsylvania and its Youngstown market manager, absented himself from that item on the agenda. This suggests Asimakopoulos perceived a conflict of interest because First National Bank is one of the three with which Strollo is seeking financing.

Dave Kosec, project manager of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, updated the board of the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp. on the status the downtown properties it owns or has an interest. They include the Wells Building, Kress Building undergoing demolition, Armed Forces/State Theater properties and the “Tech Block” that includes the Youngstown Business Incubator, Taft Technology Center, Semple Building and old Vindicator building.

Strollo Architects, with offices in 20 Federal Place, has secured roughly $1 million in federal and state tax credits of the $4 million the rehabilitation project is projected to cost. The State Historic Preservation Office has directed $803,490 to the city of Youngstown toward the effort.

The deadline to secure the balance of the financing is Aug. 15, but Kosec reported that deadline is soft and can be extended again if the Historic Preservation Office is convinced the balance of the funding is at hand. “The tax credits make the deal complicated and drawn out,” he told the CIC board (READ BACKGROUND STORY).

Purchasers were found for the tax credits by late last year.

The three banks Strollo is talking to “all have a local presence,” Kosec said. “They’re trying to finalize a financing package.”

Gregg Strollo, president and principal of Strollo Architects, could not be reached for comment.

Demolition of the Kress Building was in progress as the CIC board met, “quite visible,” as the Regional Chamber project manager reported, “in the last stages” and soon only “the basement and foundation walls will remain.” The hole is scheduled to be filled in by early to mid-July.

Before the CIC turns its attention to the Armed Forces/State Theater properties or gets involved with the older Vindicator building, it should have the Wells and Kress buildings resolved, the board agreed.

In its first meeting of 2014, the CIC board re-elected officers, extended the terms of three members and adopted an annual budget of $1.85 million. (The CIC met only twice last year, in June and November, but its executive committee met infrequently as well, the president of the CIC, Tom Humphries said. Humphries is also president and CEO of the Regional Chamber.)

G. Richard Pavlock, a retired banker, was re-elected chairman; James Miller, owner of Midwest Safety Systems Inc., vice chairman; Richard Schiraldi, principal in the Youngstown office of Cohen & Co., treasurer; and Patricia Syak, executive director of the Youngstown Symphony Society, secretary.

Miller’s term was extended three years as were those of Mark Brown, general manager of The Vindicator, and Frank Hierro, president of the Mahoning Valley region of Huntington Bank.

The 2014 budget is in line with those of the previous two years, Bruce Luntz reported. Were the CIC a private business, he said, it would show “a small profit” this year compared to last year’s “small loss.”

Helping the CIC’s income statement is the 3% increase in rents it collects from tenants in the buildings its owns and manages, such as the Voinovich Government Center, Children’s Services Board Building and Ohio 7th District Court of Appeals Courthouse.

Budgeted for the Kress demolition project is $425,000 as is $5,000 for a technology upgrade to buy three new computers and software to manage CIC assets. The computers will replace three 7-year-old models.

The CIC budgeted $230,000 for its contract with the Regional Chamber to provide administrative and protective services, Luntz said. In this sum are the chamber furnishing janitorial and security services for the Voinovich center, CSB building and 7th District Courthouse and maintaining the parking lots that serve these buildings.

Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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