Economic Development

HUD OKs $4M Loan for Amphitheater Project

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved a $4 million loan guarantee toward the city’s Amphitheater and Riverfront Park project, now under development along the Mahoning River.

The project is estimated to cost $9 million, and the city is in the process of securing opportunities for naming rights for the park and amphitheater.

“We were very happy to receive that letter late yesterday afternoon,” Mayor John McNally said Friday. “This will help significantly toward the city financing the project in total.”

HUD’s loan guarantee, along with city financing and naming rights opportunities, should be enough to carry the project forward, McNally said. He added that the city is still in discussions with potential parties who are interested in naming rights.

“We’ve had conversations with three or four entities, and we think one is very close to go,” McNally said. Once an initial naming rights agreement is signed, it should have a domino effect and encourage others to participate in other branding opportunities.

“This award letter should give folks some additional comfort as well,” he said.

Site preparation is under way at the site, just west of the Market Avenue Bridge along the river. The city is set to bid out sewer infrastructure work Nov. 14 and expects to award the work in December, McNally said.

“In about two weeks, we’re set to approve an agreement with Norfolk Southern for the last piece of property,” he said. McNally, who leaves office in January, added that 95% of the design work is completed on the project.

In July, City Council approved in a 5-2 vote enabling legislation that allows the city’s Board of Control to enter into an agreement with JAC Management Group to manage and provide food service for the venue.

JAC also manages the Covelli Centre, the city-owned arena that was constructed on riverfront land in 2005.

According to a letter to Mayor John McNally from Stanley Gimont, deputy assistant secretary for grant programs at HUD, the city has pledged its full faith and credit and a mortgage on the Covelli Centre as additional security on the loan.

“The project is moving forward,” McNally said. “I’m confident everything will work out.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.