Economic Development

AutoParkit Garage Fascinates Port Authority Officials

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Representatives of the Western Reserve Port Authority met in Los Angeles last week with three West Coast entrepreneurs who are pursuing projects in the Mahoning Valley.

They met the entrepreneurs, who have ties to the Valley, at the ribbon cutting for the new parking garage developed by AutoParkit LLC.

John Moliterno, executive director of the port authority, and board member Ron Klingle joined Warren Mayor Doug Franklin at the March 10 ribbon-cutting of an automated parking garage that incorporates AutoParkit technology.

AutoParkit owner and Warren native Christopher Alan wants to relocate his company’s headquarters to Warren and begin manufacturing operations at the former Delphi Packard Electric property on Dana Street Northeast.

The aboveground parking structure in Los Angeles lies in that city’s Helms Bakery District on a 110-by-140-foot lot and can accommodate 240-plus vehicles, Moliterno said.

Alan’s company is working on some 40 projects in the Los Angeles area, Moliterno told the port authority board of directors at their monthly meeting held at the Youngstown Business Incubator.

“We’ve had probably two years of conversations about AutoParkit. To see this technology at work was fascinating,” Moliterno said. “It’s not hard to see how this works in large, metropolitan cities where land is at a premium.”

While the need for such structures in the Mahoning Valley is limited, the proposed complex in Warren would “house the facility” that designs, creates and manufactures them, the executive director said.

“We’re going to get the best of AutoParkit because we’re going to get the jobs that come with it,” he stated.

AutoParkit is working with the port authority’s economic development division, the Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority, on the project.

A Phase II environmental study on the Delphi property is near completion, Sarah Lown, public finance manager of the port authority, said.

“We’re at the tail end of the testing,” Lown said. The environmental review is focusing on 18 areas of the soil to determine the extent that hazardous material has leeched into the soil to determine disposal costs. The study, which should be completed by the first week of April, she said.

Alan is insisting that local materials be used to manufacture the automated systems, Klingle said. “That’s how adamant Christopher is” about brining jobs back to the area, he continued.

During the trip to Los Angeles, West Coast port authority representatives also spent time with another Warren native, Mark Marvin, and Mitchell Joseph, who grew up on the East Side and attended Youngstown State University.

“We jammed a lot into a short couple of days but it was well worth it,” Moliterno said.

Marvin has bought and is redeveloping several downtown buildings in his hometown.

“He’s a very talented, knowledgeable gentleman who has a commitment to come back here to the town he grew up in, [much like Alan],” Moliterno said. “We had an extensive conversation about a very large project that he wants to do in downtown Warren.”

While on the West Coast, port authority officials visited Joseph, chairman and CEO of Joseph Company International, at his plant in Irvine, Calif. Last year, Joseph announced plans for a $20 million manufacturing plant and research center for products that use its “chill-can” technology. The project would be built in the East Side neighborhood where Joseph’s family operated the Star Bottling Co.

Moliterno described the chill-can technology: The consumer or host turns the can upside down, presses a button and voila! Within 40 seconds the can is cold and keeps the contents cold over the next half hour.

The applications in various industries – including health care and women’s cosmetics – are “endless,” he said.

Anthony Trevena, director of economic development for the development and finance authority, announced the hiring of Randy Partika as project manager and development engineer. Partika has more than 30 years of experience as a planning, engineering and construction manager. Until recently, he was bridge engineer for Mahoning County.

Partika’s duties will include assisting with site development projects, writing grant applications, and managing and coordinating activities of the Mahoning River Mayors Association.

Pictured: AutoParkit garage in Los Angeles.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.