Published: Thu, Dec 16, 2004
A reopened Wick Pollock Inn would tie in with plans for Smoky Hollow.
YOUNGSTOWN — A consultant gave Youngstown State University officials a plan to redevelop the Wick Pollock Inn on the city's North Side.
Patty Choby, with the Cleveland-based Cobalt Group planning and consulting services, met Wednesday with YSU Board of Trustees' Finance and Facilities Committee to discuss how to find a developer for the inn project and the possibility of reopening the historic building.
In November 1998, the Wick Avenue mansion, built in 1893, closed after having been forced into bankruptcy. The hotel-type facility had been used for classrooms and offices and later became a 48-room hotel with a restaurant and a ballroom.
In September, an agreement was reached between the university and First National Bank of Pennsylvania in which YSU will acquire the lease of the property from FNB, a move that will allow the university to pursue development options for the inn. YSU owns the building and the land.
Choby said a potential developer should have experience working with historically significant structures. She added that a development plan would include:
- Designing a building with concepts that will make it fit in with the Cultural District in the areas of Spring Street and Wick Avenue.
- Creating something that will lead to other development opportunities.
- Bringing lodging with new amenities currently not available to visitors to downtown Youngstown.
Choby also outlined several scenarios that could make the building more viable and allow it to reach out to YSU, as well as The Butler Institute of American Art, Stambaugh Stadium and other nearby cultural symbols. They include:
- Constructing about 36 new guest house units and possibly a 50-room guest house.
- Restoring the Wick Mansion building, gardens and other structures on the property, many of which are in various stages of disrepair.
- Restoring the vacant Peck House, perhaps to use as a visitor/entertainment area on campus.
- Incorporating academic programs that focus on community development, tourism, cultural arts, hospitality and real estate asset management.
Hunter Morrison, director of YSU's Center for Urban Studies, presented three drawings showing how the Wick Pollock Inn project is part of the Smoky Hollow redevelopment plan. It could also provide "entrances" to the Spring Street District and a "front door" for YSU's Bliss Hall and the Wick District, he said.
"Spring Street is an important street. It's our Main Street," Morrison said.
Trustees adopted a resolution that made March 25 a target date for selecting a developer.
At the trustees' regular meeting, YSU President David Sweet said that for the last six months, the university has been forming a partnership with Jefferson Community College, near Steubenville, and the Columbiana County Career & Technical Center.
The partnership, he noted, was set up to give students in that county who attend the career center an opportunity to get an earlier start at college, a move that could provide an incentive for them to transfer to a four-year university.
The partnership between the three educational facilities also would make college more accessible and build greater awareness of the importance of higher education, Sweet added. Greater college retention would lead to Ohio becoming a more competitive state, he continued.
Sweet noted that Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley are the only areas in the state lacking a community college.
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