Tuesday, June 10, 2008

what happened to all the windows?

It's 8:47pm on Sunday and the rain has started downtown.

The wet drops are coming down harder now, even sideways when gusts of wind kick up.

And most of the windows in one of the architectural gems of downtown youngstown are now missing.

The Stambaugh Building, a wonderful example of early 20th century skyscrapers, is currently exposed to the elements. Some birds have flown inside of the structure - as the rain is coming down all around me.

For the back story, you can read two stories of excellent reporting here and here from the Business-Journal.

In a nutshell, the historic windows were being removed last week without permit nor safety precautions, and one was dropped from nine stories up - shattering onto Federal Street below.

Luckily, no individual or automobile were injured by the falling glass.

Now the entire perimeter around the building is closed off to pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Here's a video of the space:

So, what is the next step in this mess?

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The following letter will be given to Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams on Tuesday:

The Honorable Jay Williams
City of Youngstown
26 N. Phelps St.
Youngstown, OH 44503

Mayor Williams:

This writing comes in the wake of the news stories of the window removal at the Stambaugh Building. It seems the City of Youngstown has this issue well at hand and is acting responsibly and has swiftly instituted mechanisms to prevent a recurrence and guard public safety. As citizens, our concerns extend beyond those of public safety.

The Central Business District of Youngstown is defined by its Central Square. The Stambaugh Building, Realty Building, First National Bank Tower, Huntington Bank Tower, Civil War Memorial and Chase Bank Tower define the Central Square. All of these buildings chronicle the development of Youngstown in the era of its transition from a small Ohio community into a bustling metropolis. All of these structures carry pedigrees, which elevate these buildings to a landmark status.

Recently, it was learned that the Liberty/Paramount Theater is doomed to the wrecking ball. Neither a plan to save the fa├žade nor a credible re-development plan for that site exists. The owner has been quoted by the press as saying the Stambaugh Building is “a lost cause.” Such a statement casts a long shadow of doubt on the actual motive of the recent activities at the Stambaugh Building. It appears to these authors that removing the windows in their entirety from this structure and replacing them with plastic film sets the stage for slow motion decay, leading to calls of blight and eventual demolition. We certainly hope this is not the case. . .

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and forward this website onto others to share these opinions.

any comments or suggestions?


Debra Weaver said...

I am furious that the owner of the Stambaugh Building would make the statement, "the Stambaugh building is a lost cause". If in fact this comment was made, it is clearly evident that the owner has plans to make it a lost cause in order to wiggle out of the commitment to renovate the building. The city must first of all make it known that removing the windows from the building will not be tolerated. In fact, it appears to me that the owner has a responsibility to insure that further damage does not occur to the structure. The windows that were removed or fell or whatever, should be replaced so that they are not a liability to passer by or to the building itself in terms of damage to the interior of the building. The city must quickly pass legislation that prohibits the owners of this building, or for that matter, any building, from allowing structures to fall into decay. There must be penalties attached to this legislation and the legislation and the penalties must be enforceable. A mechanism needs to be put into place whereby the monies from the penalties can be collected immediately. If necessary, this judgment should allow for the city to force the building into foreclosure so as to obtain control over the building. The city needs to engage in research to determine what that legislation should look like (look at other cities with similar issues). This all needs to be done quickly before more damage occurs to this structure. It is an outrage! If it takes citizen outrage at a city counsel meeting to make this known, then call out the activists! Also please see this article in Preservation Law Reporter about “Demolition by Neglect” http://forum.nationaltrust.org/pdf/demobyneglect.pdf

Rick Rowlands said...

The Mayor was on WKBN radio this morning discussing the issue. I don't think he will drop the ball on this one. He understands the importance of that building. But we must still stand behind him with our calls and letters of support. He is a much different leader than we had during the dark days of Ungaro and the semi enlightened days of McKelvey.

I've been concerned ever since I read that 2007 article in which Frangos called the Stambaugh a lost cause. Now my concerns are justified.