YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When the tenants of 20 West Federal Place went to work on Monday, they had no idea they would be receiving the news they got.
“We get 60 days with no accommodations to just get up and get out,” said Christine Mechling, manager of Capitol Grill.
That’s according to a letter that was sent to the tenants from the Youngstown Law Department. The letter states that the city was awarded “a nearly $7 million Brownfield grant to clean and remediate” the building and that “due to the nature of this remediation, the building must be vacated.”
But it’s the time frame that has some of the business owners concerned.
“I was shocked, I was devastated, I was heartbroken, you know, ’cause it’s so short notice. You know, I mean, what are we supposed to do?” said Vershanda Black, owner of Top Notch Meals.
Other business owners we spoke with who didn’t want to go on camera said they are devastated.
Mechling says she’s worked at Capitol Grill for 12 years and doesn’t know what she, or the business, will do.
“What can we do? There’s nothing we can do. Close? I mean, we can try to find something but once again, we’re being asked to leave with no accommodations. Sixty days,” Mechling said.
There are currently more than 20 businesses inside the building, including VXI, which employs hundreds of people itself.
First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver said he was completely against the method in which the tenants were notified. He feels it should have been done in another way.
“It’s so cold and callous, it’s no way to treat our downtown businesses. This was not the plan,” he said in a statement.
We did reach out to city law director Jeff Limbian about how the tenants were notified, but he did not wish to comment.
Oliver says he has already begun reaching out to other organizations in an effort to find new spaces for the tenants.
We also spoke with Doug Rasmussen of Steadfast City Economics & Communications. He says his team is working with the city and will soon begin reaching out to tenants to try and work with them on relocating.
A Community Planning & Economic Development Committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday to discuss more of the plans for the building between the city and the developers. That meeting will take place at 4 pm at City Hall.