Economic Development

Developer Plans Winery Along Warren’s Riverfront

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – A downtown Warren developer wants to acquire Warren’s Scope center as soon as he can and convert the West Market Street property on the downtown peninsula into a winery.

The Western Reserve Port Authority, at its meeting here Wednesday morning, authorized accepting the senior center’s building and an adjacent parking lot and then entered an agreement with Mark Marvin’s Downtown Development Group to acquire the property.

Terms of his company’s purchase are near completion, Marvin said.

The transfer will be the first since an agreement reached this summer between the port authority and the city of Warren. It calls for the city to transfer certain properties for economic development to the port authority, allowing it to work directly with developers. The agreement, which proponents say streamlines the economic development process, is also the first between the port authority and a local government entity.

Marvin, whose Downtown Development Group is redeveloping several properties on Warren’s Courthouse Square for residential and commercial use, said he approached the city and the port authority after the owner of a local winery approached him. Warren doesn’t take full advantage – the city’s amphitheater the exception — of the presence of the river running through its downtown, he said. “This will present an opportunity for us to utilize that river and encourage other development along that river,” he said.

Marvin has a deal in place with a winery contingent on the property transfer occurring, he reported. He is waiting for the port authority to complete the necessary paperwork and will begin work on the property once that happens.

John Moliterno, executive director of the port authority, thanked Marvin, Warren Mayor Doug Franklin and his team. “This is the first of what we think will be many projects that will completely change the central business district of the city of Warren,” he declared.

“I give you more credit than anybody else in the area for stepping up and making things happen,” port authority member David Mosure told Franklin.

The Scope center, which provides services to senior citizens, will move to another property, the former YMCA building, which Marvin recently acquired. Such a move would represent a homecoming for the center because it was started 60 years ago in the Y, he said.

Separately, the port authority authorized Moliterno to negotiate a term sheet with a Mahoning Valley company it was not prepared to identify for a capital lease project. The project is collaboration with the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, represented by Lauren Johnson. Johnson, who did not speak, is the U.S. Route 422 Corridor Redevelopment Plan project manager for the chamber.

Anthony Trevena, director of economic development for the Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority, the port authority’s economic development arm, said the name of the entity would be disclosed soon.

The board heard a presentation from Mike Mooney, managing partner of Volaire Aviation Consulting. The consultant shared an analysis that outlines the changes in the aviation industry that led to the decision by Allegiant Air to end service to the regional airport next January.

From 2006 to 2013, Allegiant was the only ultra-low-cost carrier that operated in the northeastern Ohio-western Pennsylvania “triangle,” which includes Cleveland and Pittsburgh. That ended in 2014, when Frontier added service in Cleveland, and by the end of the year was offering flights to 15 cities. In 2015, Allegiant added service at Akron and Pittsburgh, and by year end had more flights and destinations at those two cities than at Youngstown, Mooney noted.

The continued flood over the years of ultra-low-cost carriers into the triangle overwhelmed the once-profitable Youngstown service, he continued.

He outlined several options for the airport, including pursuing less-than daily leisure market service, pursuing independent regional carrier small aircraft service to East Coast business destination, and retaining and expanding college sports team charters.

“If you try something again, you need to be ultra cautious,” he advised.

The board also heard from Art Daly, dean of Eastern Gateway’s downtown Youngstown campus. Eastern Gateway recently approved entering a 10-year lease with the port authority to occupy the Harshman Building, which the port authority is acquiring.

Eastern Gateway is “at capacity” at the downtown Youngstown campus and the new space would permit new program offerings, Daly said. Architectural renderings for the building he has seen show five classroom and five or six office spaces.

“It’s definitely either going to be health services or it’s going to be general academics,” he said.

Pictured at top: Warren Scope building at 220 W.Market St.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.