Youngstown steps up pressure on owner of Parkway Tower

By September 24, 2013 Audio, Community, WYSU No Comments
The City of Youngstown is investigating criminal charges against the out-of-state landowner of Parkway Tower. There are several code violations that the owner hasn’t addressed. Shee Wai Wong/TheNewsOutlet.org

Editor’s note: The Parkway Tower is an eight-story building in the city of Youngstown. The number of stories was incorrect in this radio story. The News Outlet regrets the error.

Aired September 23, 2013 on WYSU

May face criminal charges for code violations

A city landmark in downtown Youngstown is having some legal trouble. The building owner, an out-of-state investment group, is taking time to deal with its housing violations on the property. Shee Wai Wong tells us the story behind the building.

 

The City of Youngstown is investigating criminal charges against the out-of-state landowner of Parkway Tower. There are several code violations that the owner hasn’t addressed. Shee Wai Wong/TheNewsOutlet.org

The City of Youngstown is investigating criminal charges against the out-of-state landowner of Parkway Tower. There are several code violations that the owner hasn’t addressed. Shee Wai Wong/TheNewsOutlet.org

The nine-story building is located to the south of Wick Park and across the street from Stambaugh Auditorium.

The city’s assistant law director says Parkway Tower’s out-of-state landlord from Brooklyn, N.Y., faces legal action.

“An inspection of potential housing code violations was performed on the property and our inspector revealed that we found what we believed to be our housing code violations present.”

Robert Rohrbaugh is the prosecutor of the case. He won’t release any specifics, including details of a meeting Aug. 22 between the City of Youngstown and the property owner.

“Now, because the matter is a pending criminal investigation. There’s not a whole lot more we can comment.”

When a property owner receives a warning from the Property Code Enforcement Office, and fails to bring the building up to compliance or appeal within a certain amount of time, the case will go to the prosecutor’s office for possible criminal charges.

Few may know the 82 years of history behind this now-vacant building. Here’s Bill Lawson from the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

“This was a luxury apartment building – rental apartments.”

Professionals, doctors and professors from Youngstown State University, called this pre-Depression era building, home.

“It is a unique piece of architecture. It’s historically significant because of its place and its time and there are so few examples of it,” said Lawson.

With empty rooms; no electricity, no water and peeling walls, the building no longer radiates its once-majestic atmosphere.

“To say that it’s terribly underutilized and in bad shape right now is an understatement,” said  Lawson.

It does generate $60,000 each year in revenue. The property-owner leases the roof space for a cell-phone tower, providing services to AT&T.

“This is an important piece of property in a very significant neighborhood, and there needs to be some consideration of the neighborhood people that live around it,” said Lawson.

Matt Pagac, general manager of the Stambaugh Auditorium, suggests its neighbor can do something different.

“I think it would make a great hotel space. We are desperate need of a hotel for our use and it’s close to us,” said Pagac.

He says a hotel in downtown not only benefits the auditorium, but also the city.

“I would think for YSU, having a hotel closed by will be valuable also,” said Pagac.

Bill D’Avignon, director of Youngstown Community Development Agency, echoes his comment.

“The thing was empty and we would like to see something done there,” said D’Avignon.

He says in order to save more historical buildings in the city, the government needs to “put the correct amount of pressure” on the owners.

From TheNewsOutlet.org, this is Shee Wai Wong.