YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — It’s been a week since the 19 tenants of 20 Federal Place in downtown Youngstown received notices ordering them to vacate the building in the next 30 to 90 days.
Earlier Monday evening there was a meeting that focused solely on the evicted tenants and not the renovations to come. They talked about the expense of moving and the anxiety of not knowing what’s next.
Kim Mitchell owns Two Guys Clothing at 20 Federal Place in downtown Youngstown. At a meeting Monday evening at St. John’s Episcopal Church sponsored by the community group ACTION, Mitchell spoke to the 40 people about the anxiety of vacating the building in 30 days.
Mitchell said she gets so stressed and sick inside when the thinks about the business she’s built for 17 years.
“My time, my blood, my sweat. I’ve put my life into it,” said Mitchell.
Hachem Jaafar owns and Christine Mechling manages the Capitol Grill.
“I have customers every day that ask me, ‘Where you going to go? Where you going to go? Where you going to go?’ We don’t know where to go. We find places. But how are we going to move? Like Hachem said, this is like $15,000 to $20,000 to get up and move,” said Mechling.
“Basically have conversations with the tenants in the building,” said Youngstown Councilman Julius Oliver.
Oliver was the only member of city council at the meeting. No one from the administration of Mayor Tito Brown was there. Oliver said all tenants have meetings this week with Steadfast — the St. Louis company hired by the city to help them relocate. Oliver said owners of downtown buildings have said they can help. But Oliver also said the way the tenants were treated could affect future projects.
“Any outside business that’s looking at the city at this point is like, ‘Do I really want to do business with the city?'” said Oliver.
“I am sorry that this is what you guys are experiencing,” said Derrick McDowell, owner of the Youngstown Flea.
McDowell gave the most emotional speech telling the tenants they can use his building.
“I have 18,000 square feet. If you need a soft place to land for a few months come see me. I will open my space to you. You may not be able to do business out of it. But it will be storage or whatever,” said McDowell.
The tenants were told there’s no way they can stay in the building during the renovation because it includes demolition and asbestos removal. A total renovation of 20 Federal Place will cost $74 million with 65% of it coming from government grants and tax credits.