Economic Development

Building Projects Buoy Zoning, Planning Offices

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Kim Mascarella likes what she sees throughout Howland Township.

Mercy Health-Youngstown just broke round on the Howland Medical Center on state Route 46. South on 46 near the Eastwood Mall Complex, StoneBridge Grill & Tavern is building its second restaurant, a 7,500-square-foot structure with a patio.

Further, the township planning director reports, industrial supplier Fastenal Co. has submitted plans to build in the Golden Triangle. “They’re going to be demolishing the old gas station that’s there and erecting an 8,100-square-foot wholesale facility,” she says. “That’s a big improvement for the corner.”

Activity such as this has planning and zoning officers in Trumbull and Mahoning counties optimistic.

“We seem to be generally increasing” in terms of the number of permits and size of projects, says Michael Sliwinski, chief building inspector for Trumbull County.

So far this year, 291 permits for various phases of commercial work – from construction and demolition to fire alarms and electrical work – totaling $39.7 million have been issued in Trumbull County. That compares with 213 permits for $15.4 million the first five months of 2015.

In Howland, permits year-to-date have been issued for projects with a total valuation of $14.6 million. That compares to just over $1.5 million for the same period in 2015.

“It’s a dramatic increase,” Mascarella says. “Even taking out Mercy Health … we’re still tracking at a higher valuation than last year.” The shell of the $14.5-million medical center, without the cost of medical equipment that will be installed, is valued at $9 million.

Other projects include Aldi Inc.’s 3,500-square-foot expansion of its store on Route 46, she says. Among the projects for which plans haven’t been submitted are a 10,000-square-foot expansion by Flex Strut Inc. and an 88,000-square-foot senior living project in the “very early stages.”

“Howland seems to be the place where people want to set up shop,” Mascarella says. “They’re looking at our demographics. They’re looking at our traffic patterns.”

As of mid-May in Mahoning County, 274 permits have been issued for projects that total just under $53 million. A year earlier, 251 permits totaling just under $56 million had been issued.

In Boardman Township, Marilyn Kenner, assistant zoning inspector, is upbeat about developments there.

“We’re starting to see a lot more activity and a lot more rebuilding and retrofitting old parcels into new businesses,” Kenner says.

Projects underway are the $1.2 million electrical trades training center on Western Reserve Road at Southern Boulevard, a Muscle Connection on South Avenue, a Panda Express at South Avenue and Windham Court, renovation of the Arby’s restaurant on U.S. Route 224 and a stand-alone Dunkin’ Donuts at Tiffany South.

“I don’t know if it’s the economy is better or if it’s easier to get loan money, but we’re happy to see the reinvestment into Boardman Township,” Kenner remarks.

Permits issued in Austintown Township include one to expand the smoking area at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course, reports zoning inspector Darren Crivelli. That project is valued at $850,000.

Activity in the township this year is “probably about the same” as last year, Crivelli says. “There are some prospects out there on Mahoning Avenue.”

The company that owns the Meijer chain is conducting due diligence on the former Austintown Middle School building, 5800 Mahoning Ave., that it purchased earlier this year. “They do like the site,” he says.

Other potential projects include a Dunkin’ Donuts on South Raccoon Road and a Sheetz service station on Route 46 near the Interstate 80 interchange.

Pictured: Construction worker fastens the ceremonial beam at the site of Akron Childrens Hospital’s expansion project in Boardman.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.