Back from the dead (again) (and again and…)

27 08 2007

Well, at least I gave everyone prior notice that I’d be taking a leave this time around. August and September are like the doldrums for me, and don’t have much time for blogging.

But after a week away from home (and a month away from the site), I was pleased to see the Vindicator profiling Lou Frangos, the man who has quietly built up his portfolio of downtown real estate. It’s refreshing to see someone with substantial capital see opportunity in downtown for once, but to say it could be great again? Given his plans, I’m not sure how.

For starters, the Wick and Realty Buildings, as you know, will become housing, with the Erie Terminal becoming YSU student housing. There will always be YSU students, but for the young urban professionals developers hoping will move in, they couldn’t have picked a worse time. The housing market is collapsing, and while retirees may possibly get a space in a high-rise Miami condominium at a cheap price, Youngstown may not fare as well.

The Paramount Theater I agree is unsalvageable, but keeping the facade and putting a parking lot in the space creates a bizarre picture in my mind; one of a load of cars shielded by a wall. It’s like saving the facade of the State Theater: I can agree with you the outside is beautiful and cannot be replicated with today’s architectural standards, but when the rest of the building is knocked down, what purpose does it really serve?

And then the Stambaugh Building offers some interesting possibilities, but could also be disappointing. On the one hand, Party on the Plaza is a popular entertainment option, but doesn’t offer much space. Demolition of Stambaugh would allow for increased space, but would also create the need for a new location for Buffalo Wild Wings, a downtown mainstay that I’d hate to see leave Fed.

I am hard to please, if you don’t already know. I am always thinking how things can be done better, and right now I can’t help brainstorming what different ways the Frangos’ properties could be used.