So Many Big Real Estate Deals. What Stands Out?

YOUNGSTOWN – The $2 million sale of the Ohio Commerce Center in Lordstown, one of the biggest deals longtime commercial real estate agent Chuck Joseph says he has been involved with, came about over dinner. 

The  transaction, which happened a decade ago, is among several notable deals that local commercial real estate agents shared for this story. 

Back in 2010, Joseph, now with Platz Realty Group, and Dan Crouse, still working in residential real estate at the time, attended an event where they encountered brothers and business partners George and Spiro Bakeris.

The Bakeris brothers, who refurbished and leased locomotives from a site they had in McDonald, expressed interest in land with railroad access to support their growing business. 

“We hit them at the right time,” Joseph recalls. He connected them with the 476-acre Ohio Commerce Center in Lordstown.

They drafted a contract the following Monday and the sale closed within 40 days for $2 million, he says.

Crouse joined Joseph’s firm – Routh-Hurlbert Real Estate, which was later acquired by Platz – and their relationship with the Bakeris brothers continued as they worked to attract tenants such as Anderson-Dubose Co. and Matalco Inc.   

“That was probably one of the largest deals that we made up front and also is one of the longest in regard to how long we worked with our client,” Joseph said. “We’ve had a continual relationship with them.”

Joseph also points to Crouse’s efforts with Clean Energy Future LLC on the Lordstown Energy Center while the two were still with Routh-Hurlbert. That included dealing with the village’s mayor and council on “all of the different aspects of bringing a project to fruition,” he says.

“And No. 2” – a second plant – “is right around the corner,” he adds.   

Lisa Resnick, real estate agent with Burgan-Friedkin Commercial Group, offers details of two more recent deals:  industrial properties near downtown Youngstown to Penguin City Brewing Co. and Youngstown Flea LLC. 

Lisa Resnick from Burgan-Friedkin Commercial Group sold the former Northeast Fabricators factory building to Derrick McDowell in December. The building will be the new home of the Youngstown Flea.

Youngstown Flea paid $206,000 in October for the 24,500-square-foot building formerly occupied by Northeast Fabricators Inc. Penguin City purchased the 32,700-square-foot former Republic Warehouse in December for $575,000.

Resnick says the Republic building was one of the properties she showed to Youngstown Flea owner Derrick McDowell. She worked with him to find a brick-and-mortar location for Youngstown Flea events, which he had been staging outdoors near the Covelli Centre during warm weather months.  

While in the Republic building’s parking lot, she saw the Northeast Fabricators building and wondered what was happening with it.

Resnick reached out to the company handling its sale and lease, learned the building was available and began exploring its potential.

She credits a chance encounter with Penguin City co-owner Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki at a Women United event with spurring that project. “She was talking about their dreams of being in the city of Youngstown,” Resnick says.

And so, she then suggested taking a look at the Republic building.  

The two transactions stand out to Resnick because of the impact they could have on the surrounding area.

The deals have spurred additional interest in the eastern part of downtown, and the entire city will benefit from what is happening in the developing district, she says. 

“It’s phenomenal. It’s extraordinary that they could bring even more economic development and growth to the city,” she says.

A particularly challenging deal that stands out for John Horvath, broker associate with the commercial division of Berkshire Hathaway Northwood Realty Services, Poland, involved the sale of the former Campus Health Care Center in Liberty Township to Generations Behavioral Health of Nashville, Tenn.  

The property, which included 37,000 square feet of space on 5.5 acres, sold for $2.1 million in January 2017.

“We overcame a lot of hurdles during the contract due diligence period, including getting the project through all of the various regulatory agencies and municipality and zoning regulations for the intended use, which took us nearly nine months altogether,” Horvath says.

Then, as luck would have it, at the end of January, a week before the closing, the Mahoning Valley endured a cold snap that plunged temperatures into the single digits for several days.

Water lines, sprinkler lines and boiler lines in an uninsulated section of the ceiling burst and flooded the lobby and dining areas with about six inches of water.

“It was a complete mess. But, we worked through it all and completed the sale,” Horvath says.

A couple projects came to mind for James Grantz, broker associate for Edward J. Lewis Inc., Youngstown.

One involved working with Jacor Communications – a radio company later acquired by what is today iHeartMedia – to find a site in the late 1990s.

“It took quite a while,” as well as out-of-the-box thinking, Grantz says. That thinking led to the selection of the Boardman building that formerly housed the Magic Twanger restaurant and nightclub, owned by the Simon family. That process began in 1998 and a lease for the building was signed in February 1999.

It took out-of-the-box thinking to lease the former Magic Twanger restaurant and nightclub in Boardman to what is now iHeartMedia, says James Grantz, broker associate at Edward J. Lewis Inc.

Another significant project for Grantz was the $4.2 million sale in 2012 of the former Denali Wean property on Hendricks Road in Austintown to Hynes Industries, which at the time was operating out of four different sites.

“They moved everything into one building to make everything more efficient,” he says.

Part of what made that deal interesting was that the building’s ownership was based in Italy.

“So dealing with the different time zones and the different languages was challenging and fun,” Grantz says.

Pictured at top: Hynes Industries’ purchase of its Hendricks Road site involved working with sellers in Italy, says James Grantz.