YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – One of downtown Youngstown’s skyscraper buildings will be auctioned off, and it’s hoped whoever buys it will add to the redevelopment of downtown.
It’s currently called the Chase Building. It’s 14 stories and is one of the anchors of Federal Plaza It takes up a large section of the northwest corner.
The online auction will take place from April 19-21 on the Ten-X Commercial Real Estate website. The starting bid is $500,000.
“My first reaction was a little bit of shock, but then I thought of it as an opportunity,” said Nikki Posterli, Youngstown chief of staff and director of Community Planning and Economic Development.
The importance of the building to downtown can not be understated, as it’s one of the anchors of Central Square. It has always housed a bank since it first opened in 1928. Initially, it was First National, then Union National, then Bank One, and now Chase.
Today, the building is owned by the Frangos Group of Cleveland.
The building’s main entrance is marked by large pillars. There’s intricate artwork all around the lower part of the building. For years, the Youngstown Club used the top two floors.
One of the building’s most impressive features is the lobby. The lobby is three stories, lined in marble, and speaks to the kind of wealth Youngstown had when it was built.
Bill Lawsons said the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Really speaks to the optimism and the wealth and the opportunity that was going on here,” he said. “There was a lot of money being generated.”
Posterli thinks it would be great to have residential apartments in the building.
“It’s a great spot for residential. We’re looking for a multi-use facility for 20 Federal, so I think it’ll just complement it very well. And the downstairs where the bank was is just absolutely beautiful. Could you imagine a restaurant there?” Posterli said.
The Chase Building sits next to 20 Federal Place, the former Strouss’ Building, which the city owns. Recently, plans were announced to redevelop that property.
“I think it’s a great opportunity now to look at both buildings since they’re sided by side, and if we’re going to develop one, let’s look at the other,” Posterli said.
Lou Frangos, the owner of the Frangos Group, said this is the last building his company owns in Youngstown. If it doesn’t sell, he’d be interested in buying 20 Federal Place.
Though the opening bid is $500,000, Frangos says there is a reserve price, which is a price he must accept if there is a bid, though he wouldn’t say what that price is. He did say that if the building doesn’t sell, he has a plan.
“We might just develop it and start buying more again. That’s part of the nature of the real estate business,” Frangos said.
The Chase Building is also one of downtown’s skyscraper buildings, which both Posterli and Lawson say need to be saved.
“I think those skyscrapers mean something, and we need to preserve them and make sure they stay,” Posterli said. “I would definitely hate to have any of those buildings torn down.”
“We’ve already lost a couple of major landmark buildings on the east side of the square with the Tod Hotel and the Palace Theater. If we were to lose anymore, it would just completely throw off what the Central Square is supposed to be,” Lawson said.