YOUNGSTOWN Old steel eyesore to keep standing

A top eyesore will remain despite city and state efforts to demolish and improve the industrial spot.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A year ago, there was all kinds of hope for the stretch of U.S. Route 422 near North Star Steel.
Demolition loomed for the former Youngstown Sheet & amp; Tube building, an old five-story structure sticking out from the landscape.
The city was going to buy it and tear it down, part of a $500,000 plan to improve the area's aesthetics and the bad intersection at the neighboring Ohio Works Industrial Park. The state would provide $300,000, and the city, the rest.
Leveling the building alone would have accomplished the aesthetic goal, but a grassy area with an entry sign was planned as well.
The building appraisal was $225,000. That's what the city offered, plus moving expenses, to building owner Gasser Chair Co. of Liberty, said Jeffrey L. Chagnot, city development director. The furniture-maker uses the building to store inventory.
No sale: But there was no sale, and there won't be one.
That means no demolition of a top city eyesore.
"The disappointment is we can't deal with that blighted building," Chagnot said. "We wanted that to be an entry way, a green area with some landscaping."
Gasser told the city its offer wasn't enough to cover costs of finding new space, Chagnot said.
There was no room in the project budget to increase the offer, he said.
Gasser looked for similar space nearby but couldn't find any, so it turned down the offer, a company spokesman said. There are no plans to do anything different with the building, the spokesman said.
A main reason the state money came was because of Lee Johnson, then-director of the Ohio Department of Development. He thought the building detracted from progress the industrial area has made in recent years.
Now that the improvement project is dead, the state recently shifted its contribution to a bridge long planned for the industrial park. The $300,000 will go toward the 340-foot access bridge.
So will $100,000 of state money freed up from a proposed 1997 B.J. Alan Co. project that fell through. The project involved widening a road so the fireworks-maker could do a $4.4 million expansion. The project, however, was scaled back for business reasons and the state money wasn't used.
An additional $71,400 in state money to develop the Ohio Works now will go toward the span, too.
The bridge should be ready within two years, Chagnot said.
Paving work: Meanwhile, some paving with city money will be done to make awkward traffic flow at least a little better where cars and trucks turn off Route 422 into the Ohio Works, he said.
"Traffic isn't optimum, but it still works," Chagnot said.
A section between Division Street and the old North Star entrance gate has been paved. More paving will be done inside the industrial area once the city knows more about the state Route 711 connector project. Construction of the highway will mean some of the industrial area will be dug up, but it's unclear where. The city doesn't want to spend any more of its money paving the industrial area until it knows what will be torn up for the 711 project.