Youngstown denied grant for Cold Storage building demolition

Sep. 5—The Village of Youngstown has been denied a state grant that would have been used to demolish the former Cold Storage building.

In a letter dated July 18, Empire State Development informed the village board their request for Restore NY Round VI Program was not selected. The village applied for the grant last October, looking for up to $300,000 from the program, which offers a 90/10 split in funding, to demolish the building.

According to the Lewiston Sentinel, the grant was denied due to incomplete information from the village and not scoring high enough on the application's point system.

At their August meeting, village board members approved a request for proposal process lasting 21 days, until Sept. 1. Village Clerk Wendy Brown said she cannot say if the village received any proposals, but the Sentinel reported that as of Aug. 24, no proposals were received.

Per the Village of Youngstown's Facebook page, prospective bidders must commit to the complete demolition of the current structure and removal of debris upon the premises within one year of transfer of the title. Bidders must demonstrate to the Village their ability to have it demolished within the one year time frame to be considered.

"It's just another path to explore how to handle the property," Brown said, with the village board looking at all the alternatives they can. She is not certain on what would happen if no proposals come in, saying the board will sit down and decide what the path forward would be.

Some Youngstown residents commented on Facebook that the structure should still stand and be remodeled.

The Cold Storage building has been in disuse since 2001, with several proposals coming along in the years since turning the site into apartments, a community theater, a Dollar General, a brewery, and an architectural salvage business.

It was used since 1911 as a space for farmers to store their harvested produce. Past investigations at the site found asbestos and ammonia vapors inside.

Prior to Rob Reisman being elected mayor, the board under Mayor Raleigh Reynolds had worked out a proposed deal with Metro Contracting & Environmental where its president Harold Hibbard would buy the site for $1, demolish it, put the development back on the village's tax roll, and sell the land in lots while relieving the village of responsibility.

A contract to go ahead with this arrangement was never signed, with Reisman changing course after he was elected. Former Deputy Mayor Mark Fox has spoken out at recent village meetings about the need to demolish it and scolded the board for not following through on the previous plan.

While the walls of the building are intact, overhead photos show the roof and some interior spaces have collapsed. Fox, the owner of Fox Fence in Niagara Falls, had donated fencing to surround the building.

Reisman could not be reached for comment for this story.