YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The RICA Building on South Champion Street in downtown Youngstown has seen some major improvements in the last year or so — and on Sunday, First News got an exclusive look at the inside.

An elevator built in the 1920s takes visitors floor by floor in the building, which sits on South Champion Street. However, due to building codes, the elevator will be removed by June 15.

Tim Huber, the building’s current owner, was on the hunt to find a project where he could find a residency he could develop to “try to take something from totally old and bring it to the new.”

Huber bought the building in 2021 from longtime owner, Richard Mills. Plenty of work had to be done both internally and externally to preserve its history.

“We had to do a lot of what we call ‘brick pointing,’ where we take the bricks, make sure that there’s nothing loose, nothing that’s going to fall down. The roof, making sure that the roof is stable,” Huber said. “Really working on the outside bones and working in.”

The building also had over 60 windows replaced during the renovation.

“That was really a critical emergency, because we had glass flying out of the windows,” Huber said.

And as far as exterior painting goes, a colorful mural was added to the exterior last fall.

“I think the outside was so cool, because it drew a little bit of attention for what is to come now,” McGlone said.

Pat McGlone from Overall Paint Company is responsible for the RICA Building’s new mural, which depicts the Greek god Apollo and Youngstown-specific details. He’s also helping Huber on the interior painting.

“[Huber] had plans to paint the interior, and we’re going to be doing most of that, as well as some fun projects for some of the residencies,” McGlone said.

The Soap Gallery, which occupied the first floor for about 8 years, packed up its belongings and moved out Sunday, but Huber already has a vision for the space.

“We are going to be making a high-end event center here,” Huber said. “This event center will hold 120 to 130 people.”

Huber, who is one of the partners for the downtown restaurant Prima Cucina Italiana, will have Chef Josh Santangelo as the executive chef for the Apollo Event Center.

“But, we also will let other caterers use the spot,” Huber said.

The other floors will be home to a private residence, an architecture firm and a private residence for a business to house out-of-town executives.

Huber said his team of contractors, electricians and painters make this whole project possible, and he’s happy to put money into the City of Youngstown.

“I invest in downtown Youngstown because I believe in downtown Youngstown. I had a career, 20 years traveling the country,” Huber said. “I’ve went to every city between here and Kansas City — and people don’t know that what we have here in Youngstown is is a jewel.”

Huber said a positive attitude about the city is where it all starts