The Wick Building is located at 34 West Federal Street at North Phelps Street in downtown Youngstown, Ohio. Completed in 1910, the 13-story building is currently vacant pending rehabilitation. The Wick was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 8, 1980.
The Wick Building was designed by the renowned architect Daniel Burnham (14) of the Chicago-based D.H. Burnham & Company in the Chicago School and Romanesque-revival architectural style and was constructed from 1906 to 1910.(2)(4)(5) It was constructed of steel from the Cambria Steel Company of Johnstown, Pennsylvania,(5) faced with red brick and decorated with terra cotta. The design was to compliment the earlier Federal Building across Phelps Street.(14) Financing was derived from Youngstown native George Dennick Wick, who was a leading iron and steel manufacturer (4) and whose family were involved in banking and real estate interests.(5) The 184-foot tall building opened for occupancy on April 1, 1910 (9) and was Youngstown’s tallest building until the completion of the Metropolitian Tower in 1929.(2)
The Wick was home to the Wick Brothers Trust Company among other Wick family enterprises;(5) Wick Brothers later became the City Trust and Savings Bank.(10)
On March 15, 1944, the $350,000 mortgage on the Wick Building was fully paid off.(10) The building was entirely leased to City Trust, who rented offices to various tenants.
In 1969, Burdman Bros, Inc. purchased the Wick Building for $230,000.(8) The company invested more than $1 million from 1988 to 1993 for mechanic and interior renovations in anticipation of selling the building to Phar-Mor Inc. But when a scandal plagued Phar-Mor, Burdman looked for other options. In December 1993, Burdman agreed to donate the Wick Building and a parking lot to the city as gifts.(8)(12) The city planned to seek redevelopment proposals in the following year from private businesses to locate within the tower, given that only a number of law and accounting firms occupied only about 40% of the structure of which the leases “more than covered” the occupancy costs. The city would offer the building and its 50,000 square feet of space to a developer with the goal of adding 100 jobs to downtown.
In 1996, Stop 26 Riverbend Inc. attempted to purchase the Wick from the city for a mere $50,000.(12) The company’s president, Attorney Percy Squire, grew frustrated when the city rejected his advances, especially after Mayor George M. McKelvey took office in January 1998. Squire noted that the building was appraised at just $350,000 and needed repairs and ongoing maintenance. In October 1998, it was uncovered that the city did not have a definitive list of current tenants and the terms of their leases, and that some tenants owned thousands of dollars in unpaid rent.(12) In addition, the building required more than $200,000 in repairs, including $30,000 to the roof, $40,000 to the cooling system and repairs to one of its two operating elevators. A new motor for the manually operated elevator would cost $70,000, whereas replacing the elevator with an automated model would cost $125,000.
Despite the downtown in Youngstown’s economy, the occupancy of the Wick had risen to 72% by 2005, although the city had rented out a significant portion of the building – 12,000 square feet that was spread between the third and ninth floors, and part of the eighth. Several city departments, such as the economic development office, were housed within. Other tenants included WRPB-FM, WGFT-AM, Youngstown Convocation Center, Henderson, Covington, Messenger, Newman & Thomas Co., L.P.A. and Superior Chemical Company. The Youngstown police street crimes unit moved into their offices in November 2003, and a nightclub operated on the ground floor in 2004 in a space that had been vacated 18 months prior by a women’s clothing store.(11)
The city had also been in discussions with Squire and Youngstown Wick Real Estate Partners when “an unsolicited offer” for the Wick was made by Lou Frangos, a Cleveland, Ohio developer. Frangos sealed the deal for the Wick on May 20, 2005 for $125,000.(1)(13) Squire had operated the two radio stations from the Wick, and wanted to spend up to $211,000 in improvements to the structure to add modern elevators and to renovate the building.(6) Frangos’ plan was to convert the structure into upscale residential apartments or condominiums (3)(13) at a cost of $13 million.(13) Work was scheduled to begin in late 2006, but with the downturn in the economy due to the Great Recession, the idea for student housing for Youngstown State University came about. But Frangos never developed upon the idea for student housing due to the difficulty in seeking funding for hte project.(7)
On August 24, 2012, Frangos sold the Wick to Dominic Marchionda for $150,000.(1) Marchionda’s initial plan was to convert the Wick into a boutique hotel, which would be the first hotel in the city since the Wick-Pollock Inn closed in 1998, and the first in downtown since the 1970s when the Voyager closed.(7) A later plan would be to convert the Wick into 40 apartment units.(1) Work could begin in the winter of 2012, with construction taking one to two years to complete.(1)(7)
- Skolnick, David. “Developer buys Wick Building downtown.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 25 Aug. 2012: n.pag. Web. 12 Sept. 2012. Article.
- United States. Dept. of the Interior. Seven Early Office Buildings at Central Square. Comp. Eric Johannesen. Washington: National Park Service, July 1979. Web. 12 Sept. 2012. Article.
- “Frangos Eyes Student Housing for Wick; City Seeks Cleanup Funds for Erie Terminal.” Business Journal [Youngstown] 2 Apr. 2010: n. pag. Web. 12 Sept. 2012.
- Korom, Joseph J. “Skyscrapers and the Small Town.” The American Skyscraper, 1850-1940: A Celebration of Height. By Joseph J. Korom. Ed. Adolph Caso. Boston: Branden, 2008. 464. Print.
- Deblasio, Donna M. “Public and Commercial Buildings.” Youngstown: Postcards from the Steel City. By Donna M. Deblasio. N.p.: Arcadia, 2003. 42-43. Print.
- “Youngstown Prepares to Sell Wick Building.” Business Journal [Youngstown] 31 Mar. 2005: n. pag. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
- O’Brien, Dan.”Developer Envisions Wick Building as Hotel.” Business Journal [Youngstown] 14 June 2011: n. pag. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.
- “Owners give Wick Building, parking lot to city.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 22 Dec. 1993: A1-A3. Print.
- “New Wick Building.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 25 Feb. 1910: 16. Print.
- “Bank Building Mortgage Paid Off by Wick Co.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 16 Mar. 1944: 1. Print.
- Smith, Roger G. “Upscale nightclub is to open in downtown’s Wick Building.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 12 Dec. 2003: A1-A2. Print.
- Welsh-Huggins, Andrew. “Officials uncover problems at Wick.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 1 Oct. 1998: A1-A3. Print.
- Skolnick, David. “Building owner sees projects as investment.” Vindicator [Youngstown] 22 June 2006: B2. Print.