$100M Warren Project Discussed at Chamber Breakfast

WARREN, Ohio – A Dayton area developer anticipates a 2024 start on mixed-use development in the city that he expects will exceed $100 million in investment.

Larry Dillin, president and CEO of Dillin Corp. in Springboro, and Mayor Doug Franklin discussed the long-speculated development project during the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s Good Morning, Warren breakfast event Thursday.

“It is a poorly, poorly kept secret,” Franklin admitted.

“We’re working on a fairly large-scale, mixed-use project, master plan community kind of project,” Dillin said. It will include hospitality, multifamily units, townhomes, possibly a corporate headquarters site and “a collection of restaurants and public gathering space,” he said. He characterized the $100 million figure mentioned as “a good, round number” for the project but predicted it would be more than that.

“Mr. Dillin has been here probably 12 times doing his own due diligence and marketing studies to see how ripe and ready our community was for this type of investment,” Franklin said. The city has been acquiring properties for development through the Warren Redevelopment and Planning Corporation over several years and, in collaboration with the Fund for Warren’s Future, a public-private partnership began “courting and talking to developers,” he said.

Dillin said he had been approached about 15 years ago about developing property in the city but told the people involved he didn’t think he could make it work.

“I’m very excited about what’s happened in Warren. Since that first trip 15 years ago, the improvements that have been made organically in the downtown area are really important,” Dillin said. He also was encouraged by the work done by Franklin and his administration over the past year or so and by the market research conducted by his company.

Another advantage he pointed to was the presence of the Mahoning River, which is shifting from industrial to recreational use.

Additionally, he noted the economic growth in Lordstown and acknowledged he hadn’t been aware of the role that Foxconn was playing when work began on the project.

“That’s a bonus,” he said. “You’re going to see an onslaught of new investment.”

During his annual State of the City address, Franklin touched on a series of milestones and upcoming projects, including the $3.3 million realignment of Paige Avenue and Dana Street to benefit the “Golden Triangle” area in Warren and Howland Township, an area that has more than 35 companies and more than 2,000 jobs.

A key milestone was the demolition of the former St. Joseph Warren Hospital. The $5 million cleanup project will result in the short-term restoration of the site as public greenspace and soliciting public input for the property, which could be used for new housing, as well as ancillary businesses.

Additionally, Franklin discussed the $1 million already allocated from American rescue Plan funds for businesses to use for exterior improvements, and the $1.5 million in ARP funds he wants to use for a revolving loan fund for businesses.

He also pointed to the collaborations with various partners, including Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, the Western Reserve Port Authority and neighboring communities on a county broadband engineering study and with WRPA and other communities on the 1,000-acre former BDM Steel property that potentially would involve forming a joint economic development district. The city is working with the Regional Chamber on developing a site readiness plan to not only identify potential development sites but to craft a plan for bringing them to a shovel-ready state.

In addition, he highlighted the announcement earlier this year by Sapientia Ventures, a local venture capital group, to develop the $10 million West Warren Industrial park.

“This is going to be a great boon for our city as we have very limited manufacturing and industrial space, which has made it very difficult for us to attract companies,” he said.  

The morning program also featured presentations by various event partners, including Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley, Berk Enterprises, Platz Realty Group, Servpro and The Summit FM.

Dan Crouse, a commercial real estate agent with Platz, noted that projects sometimes take five years to land, offering as an example Wednesday’s groundbreaking on the new Trumbull Energy Center, a project he began working on in 2017.

“It’s unglamorous work,” he said. “But it’s something that is very rewarding because there’s going to be thousands of jobs that go on for the next three years to build that.”

Guy Coviello, president and CEO of the Regional Chamber, also announced that the chamber’s foundation would offer a 50% match for the cost of the site readiness program and that the chamber’s Warren office, which has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic, would be reopened in the next couple of months.

He also said he was encouraged by Dillin Corp.’s proposed project and its potential for helping create housing the area needs to meet growing job demand, but cautioned he “didn’t want to get too far ahead” of it.

“It’s a good project. It has good potential,” he said.

 Pictured at top: Larry Dillin, left, president and CEO of Dillin Corp., and Warren Mayor Doug Franklin.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.