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Eastern Gateway gets OK to seek financing for buildings

YOUNGSTOWN — Eastern Gateway Community College can proceed with plans to buy and renovate two buildings that will anchor the school in the downtown.

The Ohio Controlling Board has given the Steubenville-based college permission to buy Thomas Humphries Hall, the school’s main campus at 101 E. Federal St., and its health and workforce building at 101 E. Boardman St., which is the former Harshman Building.

Monday’s action by the board essentially allows officials at the Youngstown campus to seek bond financing for about $13 million for the buildings and planned renovations, said Art Daly, vice president of Eastern Gateway Youngstown.

Thomas Humphries Hall, which includes a parking deck, would be purchased for about $8.3 million and the health and workforce building for about $1.4 million.

“The board gave us permission to go to market through a bond issuance to purchase Thomas Humphries Hall and the health and workforce buildings in Youngstown,” he said.

Work toward that end has been happening “behind the scenes,” so “now it’s just who is going to give us that money, what entity is going to provide us that money,” Daly said.

Said Michael Geoghegan, Eastern Gateway interim president: “We are grateful to the members of the Ohio Controlling Board for giving us the go ahead to take bonds to market, leveraging the state’s incredible bond rating, that will enable us to buy two buildings on our Youngstown campus and continue to make necessary improvements to parking and our footprint throughout the region. The future of Eastern Gateway Community College is one of growth and opportunity.”

Eastern Gateway now leases the buildings. Because the school leases the buildings, it cannot access capital dollars for upgrades. Owning the buildings opens that door.

The community college also plans for a new heating and air conditioning system at Thomas Humphries Hall and security upgrades at the buildings. Those industrial-type and other improvements should be complete within six months after the real estate deals close.

The Western Reserve Port Authority owns 101 E. Boardman St. Already, it has remodeled the first floor and work is underway on the second floor.

Also part of what’s been dubbed EGCC 2.0 — a greater vision to recharge the downtown’s east end — are new sidewalks, exterior lighting, outdoor seating and green space at the campus. Some of those improvements will be paid for with leftover proceeds from the bond financing, while others could take some time to accomplish after discussions and getting the OK from community partners such as the city.

Eastern Gateway arrived in Youngstown about 10 years ago. It bounced around at several locations, including the Jewish Community Center and Mercy Health, Daly said, until it landed at East Federal Street about six years ago.

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