In 1960, the Erie Railroad merged with the Lackawanna Railroad to form the Erie-Lackawanna.(3)(19) The Erie Terminal Building was renamed the Binama Building in the late 1960s when the Erie offices were relocated out of the upper floors.(6) The railroad attempted to discontinue passenger service between Youngstown and Cleveland in 1970, citing declining ridership, but the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio denied the request.(20) But after Conrail had absorbed the bankrupt Erie-Lackawanna on April 1, 1976, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved a request to discontinue passenger service. The last commuter train, a single unit (19) operated by Conrail, left Erie Terminal on January 14, 1977.(3)(20)
After the terminal closed, the upper floors were used as offices and the building was renamed the Commerce Plaza Building.(6) The upper floors were vacated after 1983.
On April 24, 1984, Rand Historic Associates announced that the company was seeking to purchase the Erie Terminal building and convert it into a commercial and apartment complex called the Youngstown Rand Center.(6) The development would have included a railroad-themed restaurant and lounge and 52 apartments on the upper floors. Rand sought a $500,000 low-interest, long-term loan from the Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG), with total renovation and property acquisiton costs totaling $1.6 million.
On March 28, 1989, the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp. (CIC) agreed to invest about $300,000 to become a partner with Strouss Building Associates (SBA) to redevelop the Erie Terminal building.(12) The SBA had obtained an option to purchase The joint venture would be called the Erie Terminal Development Company and would be headed by Phar-Mor CEO Michael Monus.(7)(8) The SBA asked the CIC pay $300,000 to help defray the back taxes, utilities and mortgage owed on the building. In exchange, the CIC would receive 5% of the net cash flow from the building. The joint ownership deal required that the SBA pay the CIC $50,000 per year.(7)(8) The development sought to redevelop the Erie Terminal into office space. Phar-Mor, with headquarters in the nearby Strouss Department Store, wanted to use two floors of Erie for its corporate training program. In addition, Canadian-owned Battery One Stop wanted one entire floor for its United States headquarters. The project was estimated to cost $2.35 million.
On July 3, the city agreed to relinquish control of 1.5 acres of land for the redevelopment project.(16) On July 18, the Youngstown City Council approved of requesting a $400,000 loan from the UDAG.(5) It was followed up with a August request of $1.5 million from the Ohio Enterprise Bond Fund, administered by the Ohio Department of Development.(10) The Ohio Enterprise Bond Fund approved of the loan on September 11.(7)
After the renovation was completed in 1990, Phar-Mor and its subsidiary, Tamco Distributors, occupied nearly all of the upper-floor space in Erie Terminal.(10) But after a multimillion-dollar fraud surfaced, Phar-Mor pulled out half of its operations in September 1992. By 1993, Phar-Mor had vacated all of its space which prompted the city to discuss moving the health department, tax and water bill collections and other operatons into the building.(10) On March 6, 1994, the city announced that it was considering consolidating and moving all health department operations into Erie Terminal, including administration, environmental health and nursing located on the seventh floor of City Hall, the Avoid Infant Morality program on the fourth floor, clinical services at the Mill Creek Community Center and the air pollution center in the City Hall Annex.(17) The city anticipated owning Erie Terminal within 30 days.
In 2001, word spread that Erie Terminal may be going up for sale, but was not listed until 2004 after the Mahoning County Child Support Enforcement Division began moving out on November 17. 2003.(8)(14) Only the Daily Legal News retained a corner office in the all-but-vacant building. The asking price was $1.3 million but it had strings attached. The SBA owed the CIC $500,000 under the joint ownership deal; the SBA only made its first $50,000 payment.
After CIC failed to receive money from the SBA, it transferred interest of the Erie to the city in December 2005.(15) In March 2006, the city council approved ordnances giving the board of control authority to take ownership of Erie Terminal, and to seek proposals for prospective developers of the property.(15) The city purchased the building for $300,000 from the state, which was the first mortgage holder of the property.
The city advertised a request for proposals for Erie Terminal in July 2006 and received responses from three companies.(15) On December 7, the city entered negotiations with Cleveland, Ohio developer Lou Frangos who wanted to spend $375,000 for the mid-rise and invest $3 million in renovating it into a retail and 35-unit residential complex. One of the other replies was from Anthony J. Saadey of Anthony’s On-the-River Restaurant who wanted to buy the building for $1 and invest $1 million toward equipment and renovation of the building over a three-year period. Saadey wanted to use the first floor for retail and the top five floors for a hotel, student housing or office space. The other was from Mantis, owned by Ron DeAtley, who wanted to renovate the building into a hotel, condominiums or offices and a first-floor restaurant.
Frangos finalized the deal on June 29, 2007 and purchased the Erie Terminal from the city for $375,000.(2)(4)(9) Frangos wanted convert the building into apartments, but a slumping residential market led Frangos to cancel the project. In September, the city hired Brownfield Restoration Group for $11,000 to apply for money from Clean Ohio on behalf of Frangos for remediation of asbestos inside the building. Only government entities were allowed to apply for Clean Ohio funding.(9)
Frangos was set to sell the building to local developer Dominic Marchionda in December 2010,(18) but the sale was extended until January 31, 2011 because of “last minute” paperwork.(4)(18) Another delay in February due to environmentally related issues led the sale to be pushed off until March.(18) Marchionda had announced in November that he planned to spend $7 million to $7.5 million to renovate the Erie Terminal into 60 apartment units with first floor retail.(4)
On January 6, 2011, the city hired Howland Company of Youngstown for $5,995 to do an asbestos survey of the site.(4) The estimated cost to clean up asbestos from the building was $100,000 (9) to $500,000.(4)(18)
In August, developer Marchionda finalized the purchase the mostly empty structure from Frangos for $740,000 with the intent of renovating the property into 40 market-rate apartment units.(1)(2) The goal was to attract professionals, graduate and undergraduate students at Youngstown State University, and those interested in living in downtown. Financing was derived from $9 million in conventional financing, a $350,000 grant for water utility expenses from the city and $3.22 million in state and federal historic preservation tax credits.(18) Work on the interior included the gutting of the upper floors and renovating the main concourse, making use of the original marble, terrazzo and crown moldings throughout.
Tenants began moving into the rebranded Erie Terminal Place on August 1, 2012 after an occupancy permit was approved.(1)(2)
- Designation: Erie Terminal Building, Erie Terminal Place
- Address: 112 West Commerce Street, Youngstown, Ohio
- Constructed: 1923
- Architecture: Simplified Classical
- Nelson, George. “Erie Terminal Place Ready for Tenants.” Business Journal Daily [Youngstown] 31 July 2012: n.pag. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Article.
- Skolnick, David. “Erie Terminal complex downtown ready for occupants.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 2 Aug. 2012: n. pag. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Article.
- Prendergast, Ken. “Ohio’s last commuter train – EL’s Cleveland-Youngstown service.” UrbanOhio. N.p., 13 Jan. 2007. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Post.
- Skolnick, David. “Sale of Erie Terminal delayed.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 7 Jan. 2011: n. pag. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Article.
- “Youngstown seeks federal funds for Erie Terminal, sinter plant.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 19 July 1989: 10. Print.
- Nord, Mary Beth. “Erie Terminal Rehab Is Eyed.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 25 Apr. 1984: 1, 6. Print.
- “Erie Terminal projects gets $1.5 million loan.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 12 Sept. 1989: 5. Print.
- Smith, Roger G. “Erie Terminal’s future unclear.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 26 Jan. 2004: B1-B2. Print.
- Skolnick, David. “Company hired for asbestos, lead work at Erie Terminal.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 2 Apr. 2010: n. pag. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. Article.
- Niquette, Mark. “City officials eye space in Erie Terminal Building.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 5 Aug. 1993: B5. Print.
- Souza, Bertram de. “Erie Terminal project aid sought.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 28 Aug. 1989: 21. Print.
- Roberts, Tim. “CIC will join Erie Terminal redevelopment.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 29 Mar. 1989: 1, 4. Print.
- Skolnick, David. “Developer plans residences downtown.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 26 Aug. 2007: n. pag. Web. 6 Dec. 2012. Article.
- Jackson, Bob. “CSEA office set to move to East Side.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 14 Nov. 2003: B3. Print.
- Dick, Denise. “Cleveland developer plans building redo.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 8 Dec. 2006: n. pag. Web. 6 Dec. 2012. Article.
- “Board agrees to give up control of downtown plot.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 3 July 1989: 4. Print.
- Denney, George. “Health board hopes to relocate its offices.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 7 Mar. 1994: B1, B2. Print.
- Skolnick, David. “Sale of Erie Terminal delayed again.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 8 Feb. 2011: n. pag. Web. 6 Dec. 2012. Article.
- Schafer, Mike. Classic American Railroads. Vol. 2. St. Paul, MN: MBI, 2000. Print.
- Bell, Jon. “Cleveland, Ohio: Erie Lackawanna Commuter Rail.” 11 Aug. 2007: n. pag. Web. 6 Dec. 2012. Article.
- “Erie Terminal Building-Commerce Plaza Building.” Dictionary of Ohio Historic Places. Ed. Lorrie K. Owen. Vol. 2. St. Clair Shores, MI: Somerset, 1999. 952-953. Print.