Kress Building beyond salvaging
In July, Youngstown said goodbye to the Paramount Theatre. Now, West Federal Street awaits another vacant lot. The Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp., the CIC, owns the historic Kress building that was built in 1925. News Outlet reporter Karen Bell toured the long vacant building with a CIC executive.
LYNN POPA: Holy crap!
CIC Director Lynn Popa opened a door to a hallway that hasn’t been opened in years. She always wondered what the basement looked like and today she saw it. Ten feet from the door a 4-foot gap exists where the floor use to be.
88-year-old Laura Cherol remembers working at The S.H. Kress & Co. department store in 1945. The basement was her favorite part.
CHEROL: Downstairs was material. And they had carpeting. And they had shoes. I remember shoes. That was about it downstairs. Upstairs, we had makeup, candy and there was a luncheon counter on THE one wall, ’cause we used to get our lunch there.
64-year-old Aspacia Kraysets, remembers working, in the ’70s, at a salon located in the McKelvey Building – cattycorner from the Kress’ “five and dime.”
KRAYSETS: At that time, town was booming. There were a lot of different places you could go.
The door swings shut and may never be open until a demolition bid is settled.
POPA: The last, latest one that it (renovation estimate) would cost was $8 million.
Popa says by the time they got the building it was already too late. Yet again another piece of Youngstown will be removed within the next 12-15 months.
POPA: It’s like they shut the lights off and just didn’t come back to work. Like “The Walking Dead” – like the zombie movie. I’m serious!
The CIC says the surrounding buildings that still have life in them are being weighed down by these old vacant structures. It’s time to move Youngstown forward.
Unsure of what might replace the Kress, some Youngstown natives look forward to a newer downtown.
President of the CIC, Thomas Humphries, agrees with several engineers who inspected the building. It can’t be salvaged. Popa says the CIC tried for years to rescue the building.
KRAYSETS: And I see it coming alive. When I come through here now, I am not afraid at night. My daughter and I will come down sometimes when I pick her up from the playhouse.
As Youngstown’s cityscape continues to change, natives will never forget the three-story Kress Building, coated in white-tile terra cotta, now covered in vines, spider webs and dust.
For TheNewsOutlet.org, this is Karen Bell.