Developer calls late bid unfair
Warren group in the running for Youngstown building
YOUNGSTOWN — The city received a second formal proposal to buy and redevelop the downtown 20 Federal Place building, more than two weeks after the deadline.
Though the formal deadline was June 1 and the city received a proposal from Downtown Development Group in Warren on that day, a line in the request for proposals document states: “Proposals received after the deadline will be reviewed until a redeveloper is selected.”
Desmone Architects of Pittsburgh, which had expressed interest in the project and requested more time to turn in an official proposal, submitted one Wednesday, said Doug Rasmussen, president and CEO of Steadfast City Economic and Community Partners, the St. Louis firm hired to design and oversee the redevelopment of 20 Federal Place.
“Since a redeveloper has not been selected as of yet, another company could submit and if they did it would be the city’s right as to whether they wanted to review / consider said proposal or not,” Rasmussen said.
He added: “At this point, I am not expecting any additional proposals.”
Mark Marvin, Downtown Development’s president and owner, said: “The decision of the city is out of my control. I do not think that it makes it a fair process when a deadline is created and not adhered to, but that is the city’s decision and not mine. As stated previously, I will let the process play out and if we are (not) chosen, then I wish the renovation team the best of luck and look forward to seeing their finished product.”
Rasmussen said the original schedule for selecting a redeveloper for the project remains with interviews in July and August, presentations to city council in August and a firm selected that month. An agreement would be finished by October.
The project already has had some issues.
Hunter Morrison, the city’s planning consultant, initially had told a reporter no formal proposals were submitted for the project by the June 1 deadline. Downtown Development and Desmone only had expressed interest and wanted more time to turn in official proposals, he said.
After reading a June 6 article about no formal proposals, Marvin contacted a reporter and city officials questioning why his company’s submission wasn’t considered one.
After talking with Morrison and looking at the company’s documents, the city law department determined Downtown Development had filed a formal proposal and apologized for the miscommunication.
Marvin also said he was concerned “there was a deadline and the city then extended it,” and if other companies turned in proposals, Downtown Development could “adjust our thought process and think if we’ll go forward with our proposal.”
Downtown Development Group has renovated properties in Warren, including the Robins Theatre, the Mahoning Building and CharBenay’s Wine on the River.
Desmone largely is an architectural firm and has collaborated with other companies on projects.
The city law department has declined to provide the proposals, citing Ohio Revised Code that materials given “in response to a competitive solicitation shall not be considered public record” until “the date the public office announces the award of the contract” or chooses not to award one.
The city purchased 20 Federal Place in November 2004 after Phar-Mor, a national retail store company, went out of business. The property at 20 W. Federal St. was the Phar-Mor Centre, the company’s corporate headquarters. Before that, it was the flagship location of Strouss’ department store for several decades.
The city has tried unsuccessfully a few times to sell the 332,000-square-foot, 95-year-old building.
The Appalachian Regional Commission last year awarded a $40,000 contract to Steadfast City to provide technical and marketing assistance to the city for 20 Federal Place.
Steadfast presented a $34.5 million rehabilitation proposal for the downtown building in March with apartments mixed with office space on the upper four floors, an improved food court on the first floor, and technology firms, small businesses and meeting space on the second and third floors with a bowling alley, bar and malt shop in the basement.