YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The developer of a proposed hotel in downtown Youngstown wants the city school board to forgo $4.6 million in tax dollars over the next 15 years to continue the ongoing redevelopment.
Youngstown Schools CEO Krish Mohip has the final decision and says he is not ready to commit to giving up that money, but will seek the school board’s opinion.
The NYO Property Group owns eight buildings downtown, including the Stambaugh Building on Central Square.
Workers started the process of gutting the inside of the building Tuesday evening. By December of 2017, it will be a DoubleTree Hotel.
Meanwhile, a block away, Dominic Marchionda with the NYO Property Group tried to convince the school board to grant the hotel a 100 percent, 15-year tax abatement.
“I’m going to guarantee you in return. I can sit here right now and feel confident we’ll give you a lot back. We’ll create jobs for the community,” he said.
Joining Marchionda was Youngstown’s Director of Economic Development T. Sharon Woodberry.
She says the city can allow for a 75 percent, 10-year tax abatement without school board approval. However, to get 100 percent for 15 years, they need and want the board’s consent.
“Particularly a project of this size, the margins are thin in terms of being able to get the financing, and these tools are kind of what helps push that project over the edge to allow a bank to consider the financing that’s needed for it,” Woodberry said.
The board had questions about the hiring of minorities. School board member Jerome Williams wanted guarantees, not a best effort policy, that minorities would be hired.
“Because best effort, it could be two people and we know sometimes it doesn’t happen,” he said.
Mohip asked a couple of questions, but spent most of the time listening. He said he wasn’t sure if he was for or against giving up the money, and needed to look into it more.
There was a debate over whether the meeting Tuesday was even legal.
Board members Dario Hunter and Corrine Sanderson said the board has to be notified with a signed letter 48 hours before special meetings are called. They said the letter was not signed, so they both left.
Mohip said later that it was legal and that in the future, there shouldn’t be special meetings. He said they would just be made into regularly scheduled board meetings.
Woodberry asked the school board for a decision by the next Youngstown City Council meeting on September 21.