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Old Posted Sep 18, 2012, 4:10 PM
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Sherman Cahal Sherman Cahal is offline
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Rehabilitating (and exploring) Youngstown, Ohio's Tallest

Rehabilitating Youngstown, Ohio's Tallest

There is a lot of commonality between Youngstown, Ohio and the Ohio River valley that I grew up within near Ironton. Both are areas that have experienced major employment losses, either due to a declining steel mill or other heavy industries; both are areas that have experienced population declines in the cities; both are areas that are impoverished. But the severity of Youngstown's losses are hard to compare to.

When Youngstown Sheet & Tube's Campbell Works abruptly closed in 1977, it left behind 5,000 workers who were taken back and wondering what their futures held. It was a "black Monday" that was followed up with the closure of the Brier Hill Works in 1979. The industry had been on the tip of an iceberg for much of the decade, as new technologies, such as basic oxygen furnaces and continuous casters,*were not being adapted fast enough. The large steel producers wanted to wait the technology out to ensure that it could match production speeds and quality. To make the matters more*worrisome, foreign competition began shipping significant quanities of steel to the United States, rising from 5.4 million tons in 1963 to nearly 20 million tons by the end of the decade. This led to fewer profits by the steel industry, which led to fewer investments in the plant's facilities and equipment, which only led to a slow and eventual downward creep towards bankruptcy.

But it's 2012, and no one single industry can drag down a city for that long. Youngstown has begun a rebound, brought on by Youngstown State University - conveniently located adjacent to downtown, and new heavy industries, such as VM Star. The rapid growth of the*marcellus shale exploration, leading to a bonanza of contractors and companies flooding eastern Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, has led the charge in the redevelopment of the industrial "rust belt."

Mirroring the decline of the city, from a population that once topped 177,000 and now has dipped to 66,000 is the Wick Building along West Federal Street. Designed by Chicago-based D.H. Burnham & Company in the*Chicago School and Romanesque-revival architectural style, the 184-foot tall building was built from 1906 to 1910, and opened to tenants on April 1. The red-bricked, steel-framed building featured intricate terra cotta.*Financing was derived from Youngstown native George Dennick Wick, who was a leading iron and steel manufacturer, and whose family were involved in banking and real estate interests. The Wick was the city’s tallest until the completion of the*Metropolitan*Tower in 1929. It housed the Wick Brothers Trust Company among other Wick enterprises.

Below: Exterior photographs of the Wick.








In 1969, Burdman Bros purchased the Wick Building for $230,000. The company invested more than $1 million from 1988 to 1993 for mechanic and interior renovations in*anticipation*of selling the building to Phar-Mor Inc., but when a scandal plagued the company, Burdman looked at other options.*In December 1993, Burdman agreed to donate the Wick Building and a parking lot to the city as gifts. The city planned to seek redevelopment proposals in the following year from private businesses to locate within the tower. The city would offer the building and its 50,000 square feet of space to a developer with the goal of adding 100 jobs to downtown. A number of law firms and accounting firms occupied only about 40% of the structure, of which the leases “more than covered” the occupancy costs.

In 1996, Stop 26 Riverbend Inc. attempted to purchase the Wick for $50,000. The company’s president, Attorney Percy Squire, stated that he had tried to purchase the building, but after Mayor George M. McKelvey took office in January 1998, he was told the city was no longer interested in the deal. Squire noted that the building was appraised at just $350,000 and needed repairs and ongoing maintenance.

Despite the downtown in Youngstown’s economy, the*occupancy*of the Wick stood at 72% by 2005, although the city rented 12,000 square feet in the building, including the third and ninth floors, and part of the eighth. Several city departments were housed within, including economic development offices. Other tenants*included*WRPB-FM, WGFT-AM, Youngstown Convocation Center,*Henderson, Covington, Messenger, Newman & Thomas Co., L.P.A., a law firm and Superior Chemical Company. The Youngstown police street crimes unit moved into their offices in November 2003, and a nightclub operated on the ground floor in 2004 in a space that had been vacated 18 months prior by a women’s clothing store.

Lou Frangos, a Cleveland, Ohio developer, purchased the Wick Building from the city on May 20, 2005 for $125,000. The city had also been in discussions with Squire and Youngstown Wick Real Estate Partners when “an unsolicited offer” for the Wick was made. Squire had operated the two radio stations from the Wick, and wanted to spend up to $211,000 in improvements to the structure to add modern elevators and to renovate the building. Frangos’ plan was to convert the structure into upscale residential apartments or condominiums at a cost of $13 million. Work was scheduled to begin in late 2006,*but with the downturn in the economy due to the Great Recession, the idea for student housing for Youngstown State University came about. But Frangos never developed upon the idea for student housing.

On August 24, 2012, Frangos sold the Wick to Dominic Marchionda for $150,000. Marchionda’s initial plan was to convert the Wick into a boutique hotel, which would be the first hotel in the city since the Wick-Pollock Inn closed in 1998, and the first in downtown since the 1970s when the Voyager closed. A later plan would be to convert the Wick into 40 apartment units. Construction could begin in the winter of 2012, with work taking one to two years to complete.

Below: Interior photographs from September 2012 showing the current state of the structure. The lobby was refaced with marble panels at some point in its history, with a later renovation adding stone pavers and decorative lighting.






Below: Second floor corner office.


Below: A view of the original elevator wrapped by the central stairwell.

*

Below: Fourth floor.






Below: Fifth floor.


Below: Sixth floor, which housed a restaurant.










Below: Seventh floor.


Below: Ninth floor.


Below: Eleventh floor.








Below: The twelfth floor, which at one point housed offices but later became all storage and mechanical rooms.










Below: Roof and mechanicals.








Below: Details and the basement.














Another one of Youngstown's tallest is the Stambaugh Building.*The Stambaugh Building was designed by Albert Kahn of Detroit, and construction began in 1906 for a reinforced concrete office tower with a white brick facade and a neo-classical revival design. The eight-story, $1.5 million building was financed by John and George Stambaugh. By November 1907, work began on cutting the*partition*tile for the interior, and the installation of tile for the floors and side walls. Concrete was still being poured on the upper two floors during that time, with work proceeding in an expedited manner.

On September 28, 1912, the Stambaugh’s announced were considering the advisability of adding four stories to the structure due to the popularity of the building. The*proclamation*was made after the Vindicator had hinted at the possibly of an upward expansion. The building boasted a 100% occupancy, and the owners were optimistic that the new floors could be filled with offices for the large industrial firms located in the city.

A contract for the addition was let on February 17, 1913 to James L. Stuart of Pittsburgh for approximately $200,000. The plans included removing the present cornice and adding additional steel to raise the building’s height by an additional 60 feet. The steel was set to be placed by May 15, with occupancy by early November. The addition was finished in the following year, topping the Stambaugh out at 160 feet in height.










The grand structure, located within Youngstown’s central square, was headquarters of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company, which occupied the top five floors. The Stambaugh also*featured an Euwer’s Department Store that took up the first three floors and basement. The department store opened at 9 AM on August 7, 1908 and featured 25 departments with $200,000 worth of stock and equipment. Some of the features of the new store included a mahogany soda fountain on the first level, a complete telephone system with an exchange on the*mezzanine*floor, two ladies’ rest and waiting parlors with tea rooms, and a mammoth electric sign fabricated by the Ohio Sign Company that read “Euwer’s” on the top of the building.

In July 1915, Youngstown Sheet and Tube completed new offices at its East Youngstown Works, where its operating department relocated to from the Stambaugh. It continued to maintain its tenth through twelfth floor presence for its auditing, order and other city offices. In December 1925, the steel company took over the eighth and ninth floors, relocating its legal offices, traffic, claim and real estate offices into the Stambaugh. But in 1958,*Youngstown Sheet and Tube moved its corporate offices to Boardman in 1958. The Standard Slag Company moved in shortly after,*occupying*the top three-and-a-half floors, as did Bessemer Limestone. In 1940, Morris Plan Bank moved from the Terminal Building to the first floor of the Stambaugh. The Terminal was a*causality*of the widening of West Commerce Street.

On July 18, 1967, it was announced that the Stambaugh, partially owned by John Stambaugh III among others, was to be sold to Youngstown Realty Corporation. The transaction, totaling $1 million, was completed on October 3. Major improvements were planned to the structure, although details were not disclosed.*In 1983, the building was sold to the H.L. Libby Corporation. Howard Libby was a principal partner of Youngstown Realty, and expressed desire to restore the building. The original*terrazzo*floors were uncovered, cleaned and polished, the marble walls and stairs cleaned, and the brass restored. The window sashes, long painted over, were restored to their original grained walnut appearance. The mail chutes, built by the Cutler Mail Chute Company of Rochester, New York, were also restored.

On November 7, 1997, the Stambaugh Building was sold to a*subsidiary*of Cambridge Investment Group of Cleveland from H.L. Libby Corp. for $950,000. Boardman desired to restore the building to its original appearance, and lure in the businesses that once left for the suburbs for its free parking and highway convenience. Tenants at the time included KeyBank, BW-3 (later Buffalo Wild Wings), several attorneys and an accounting firm.

By the 2000s, the Stambaugh was not in the best of condition. The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber began exploring relocation options from its offices on the top floor of the building in 2002, and relocated in October 2003. The entity complained about the lack of heat from April 1 to November, which was needed at times, and the scattered residents that were allowed to keep pets. The building was operated by Stambaugh Associates and controlled by Jeffrey Moffie, but Stambaugh Associates had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Moffie began renovations to vacant floors in the summer of 2003 during the bankruptcy*proceedings. A court order gave Stambaugh Associates eight months to buy the Stambaugh from Pacific Coast Investment Company for up to $2 million; in the meantime, Stambaugh Associates was allowed to lease the building from Pacific Coast and continue renovations.*The Stambaugh was co-purchased by*Lou Frangos, a Cleveland, Ohio developer and Platia Square LLC of New York City for $1.15 million on March 6, 2006. At the time, the lone-tenant was Buffalo Wild Wings. Frangos had planned to convert the structurally sound building into a hotel, but a cost estimate of $15 million led the project to be mothballed. Frangos called the building “a lost cause.”

During a heavy rainstorm in July 2007, four windows from the tower fell to the ground. Two fell onto an adjoining parking lot and two on the roof of Buffalo Wild Wings. Two additional windows fell from the rear on May 24, 2008. Four days after that incident, Frangos had employees remove windows from the Stambaugh, initially wanting to replace the windows with plastic. He then decided to use plywood. Frangos began the window removal without a city permit and approval from the city’s Design Review Committee, an oversight that Frangos admitted. On June 5, after more than 400 of the 531 windows were removed, another pane fell out of the structure and onto East Federal Street as a city official watched. The window removal process was immediately stopped by the city. On July 11, the city’s Design Review Committee rejected Frangos’ plan to board the windows up with plywood, citing aesthetic and safety concerns.

A letter, signed by 17 of Youngstown’s business leaders, questioned Frango’s long- and short-term plans on the Stambaugh, and expressed concern over potential mistreatment of the historical site. Two days later, Frangos met with city leaders and he agreed to improve the window frames so that the windows could be removed and replaced. If the frames were too damaged, he would be allowed to install Plexiglas or new windows. The city found that 99% of the windows were in good repair to be reinstalled. Work began to reinstall the windows on June 27 by the All American Window and Door Company of Cleveland.

In July 2012, Frangos sold his share of the Stambaugh to*Dominic Marchionda, along with the adjacent parking deck for the building.

Below: Lobby.








Below:*KeyBank occupied part of the first and mezzanine level.







*

Below: Second floor.



*


Below:*A restroom with an upper level waste drain running into a toilet. I'm <strong>fairly</strong> certain this is not up to code.


Below:*Fourth floor.






Below:*Fifth floor.






Below: Sixth floor.




Below:*A mostly gutted seventh floor.


Below: Eighth floor.




Below: Ninth floor.








Below: Tenth through the twelfth floors were home to The Standard Slag Company.












Below: Roof and mechanics.










I look forward to the rehabilitation and redevelopment of both the Wick and Stambaugh Buildings in downtown Youngstown. With the success of the Realty and Erie Terminal Buildings, especially with their distance relation to Youngstown State University, the conversion of two of the city's tallest will only amplify the ongoing redevelopment efforts within the city. There is much potential that has yet to be untapped, and Youngstown stands to be a model of not decline, but of rebirth.

Stay tuned.
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  #2  
Old Posted Sep 18, 2012, 5:25 PM
ShooFlyPie ShooFlyPie is offline
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Very beautiful photography. I really like your interior shots.
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Old Posted Sep 18, 2012, 5:53 PM
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beautiful work as usual! hopefully frango or somebody can save that bldg.

new technology and foreign dumping get all the press for the destruction of the steel industry in ohio and pitts, but it always amazes me how the crucial third factor gets such short shrift. i understand why, but the fact is the people themselves bore a hand in the collapse. the strong union refused to face reality and in the end that is what ran the industry into the ground. modernization could have happened all along in the 1970s if they would have agreed to phased shutdowns and salary concessions. i cannot tell you how many people i knew that used to come home from the plants saying how they slept in a crane and stuff like that. personally, it was quite obvious even to me as a kid that something was very wrong, but the workers refused to face it.

so anyway a bit later on that left me facing what was an economic depression locally. try to find a find job when thousands of people have just been put out of work! one example, i'll never forget a local mcdonalds manager showing me a 4 drawer office file cabinet busting full of application files. it was so very sad. the late 1970s-early-1980s era is still a bad subject around these heavy industry ohio/pa towns and neighborhoods for many of those who remain. /rant
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Old Posted Sep 18, 2012, 6:07 PM
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Sherman Cahal Sherman Cahal is offline
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Oh, I definitely agree. It was a cumulation of just bad decisions, late calls and outdated technology, followed by foreign competition that just avalanched down on many companies during that era. The time of union problems did not really begin peaking until after the collapse had already begun, when the unions were trying to save whatever jobs there were and to preserve the high pay they enjoyed decades past. They were even slower than management, at times, to react.

I have come across dozens of articles similar to the mills up there. Ironton had some foraging plant that had done a complete overhaul in the late 1960s which made the plant one of the most efficient in the world. And it was completely shuttered by 1975 by what the newspaper called "foreign competition." Or the Alpha Portland Cement Company that I once explored as a kid, closed due to environmental pollution and the high cost of labor. That what you stated happened in so many industries.

As far as restoration - both buildings were sold to Marchionda. Things are looking up - they just opened Erie Terminal not too long ago to much success.
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Old Posted Sep 18, 2012, 6:25 PM
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awesome tour, thanks.

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Old Posted Sep 19, 2012, 3:17 AM
Buckeye Native 001 Buckeye Native 001 is offline
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Sweet, thanks for these
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Old Posted Sep 22, 2012, 4:25 PM
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Neat stuff. I love those old 60's era offices.
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Old Posted Sep 24, 2012, 2:44 AM
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Nice thread of these old buildings!! Hopefully this helps mark the turnaround of downtown Youngstown and beyond!!
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Old Posted Oct 1, 2012, 12:47 AM
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MayDay MayDay is offline
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I thought it'd be easiest if I copied/pasted my post from the UrbanOhio thread:

Love this thread, and it brings back some very personal and vivid memories. I was five years old and in 1977 (pre-Black Monday) I was in the Stambaugh building, accompanying my folks while they dropped off paperwork to settle a relative's estate. The law office was on an upper floor and while my folks took care of business, I spent my time at the windows which had great views of downtown Youngstown as well as the surrounding neighborhoods that hugged the rolling hills adjacent - to this day, I remember my jaw dropping at the Metropolitan Tower (First National) because it was the first time I'd ever seen anything remotely approaching a skyscraper. It's only 224 ft. tall, but to a five year old from a small town of 12,000 people and the tallest building was the 4-story hospital, it made an impression. Plus it has gorgeous Art Deco lines and proportions - my fascination with architecture started with this building and look where that got me.

Anyway, we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant a few blocks over, stopped by the busy Strouss department store, and then left a bustling downtown Youngstown to check out Mill Creek Park. And not long after that, Black Monday hit along with the mass layoffs and decline - and then the drug and gang crime of the 80s and 90s... I know downtown Youngstown has cleaned up a lot recently, so to see that these buildings might have more than a glimmer of hope is refreshing.
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Old Posted Oct 3, 2012, 3:20 AM
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I'm also excited about the prospect of downtown Youngstown continuing to be revitalized, and historic buildings preserved.
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Old Posted Oct 10, 2012, 7:11 PM
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Great thread. Love the pics I'm really cheering for Youngstown's downtown to revitalize along with other parts of the city.
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