Abandoned Truck Stop in North Lima Eyed for Redevelopment

NORTH LIMA, Ohio – The site of an abandoned truck stop along state Route 7 near the Ohio Turnpike interchange is under consideration for redevelopment, as this section of Mahoning County primes itself for what could amount to millions of dollars in new investment in the near future.

Township Zoning Inspector Richard Martin said he’s met with representatives of Onvo, which has expressed interest in developing a new travel plaza at the former Penn Ohio Truck Stop site.

“They’d like to make it their Ohio flagship and work westward,” Martin said. “They seem really interested.”

Onvo, a family-operated company, operates 36 travel plazas and service stations, 24 quick-service and full-service restaurants and six hotels in upstate New York and central/eastern Pennsylvania, according to its website.

Restaurants associated with the company’s locations include iHop, Burger King, Subway and Tim Horton’s, the website shows.

Its hotels include a Residence Inn, Holiday Inn Express, two Fairfield Inn & Suites, a Comfort Inn and an Econo Lodge – all of them located in the Poconos and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa., region, the website shows.

Initially, Martin said Travel Centers of America had considered the location for a new development but opted not to move forward. That left an opportunity for Onvo.

Martin said Onvo has not submitted any preliminary development plans to the township.

Currently, the Penn Ohio site is in such disrepair that the township is close to declaring it condemned. “It looks bad, and we’ve started the condemnation process,” he said.

The truck plaza closed more than 10 years ago and has been vacant ever since.

Martin is especially enthusiastic since the Penn Ohio site is directly across the street from a 15-acre parcel that is under preparation for a new Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores development.  

“I’m thrilled that we’ll be able to clean up this part of the corridor,” he said.  

Martin said the Love’s project is moving forward at a quick pace, noting the company has submitted its utility plans and should deliver its building plans to the township this week. “Once we get those, the plans will be reviewed by the county engineer,” he said.

After the proper permits are in place, construction could begin, he said.

“They’ve got a 180-day construction schedule,” Martin said, and he expects the project could be completed by the end of this year.

Last year, the township’s zoning board helped clear the way for the project by awarding it a conditional use permit for a tire shop and drive-thru at the site.  The board also approved signage for the new plaza.

A representative of Love’s who appeared before the zoning board last year said the typical investment for a travel plaza of this size is between $12 million and $15 million.  

The North Lima location would be the second Love’s Travel Stops in the Mahoning Valley, according to the company’s website. The company operates a site in Hubbard along state Route 62 at the Interstate 80 interchange. Love’s also operates a Speedco Truck Lube and Tires station in Girard, the website says.

The company boasts 600 locations in 42 states and employs 38,000 people, its website says.

Martin says he’s hopeful that additional projects could take hold once development begins in this part of the township.

“Once these get through, I’d say there are another half-dozen lots primed for development,” Martin said.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.