Auditor: Oakhill Renaissance Place Still Bleeding Millions of County Dollars

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A financial analysis conducted by the Mahoning County Auditor shows that Oakhill Renaissance Place, a former hospital building the county acquired in 2006, has cost the county nearly $25 million through 2020. 

According to financial data compiled by the auditor’s office, the building’s net expenditures have exceeded revenues by $24.7 million between 2006 and 2020. The building also has a net balance of $11 million it owes on debt incurred through a bond issue used to renovate the complex, data show.

“It is hoped that this analysis will facilitate a plan for this property to maximize its value to taxpayers,” the auditor’s office stated in a press release Tuesday.

Operating revenue for the 15-year period stands at $21,811,301 compared to operating expenses of $27,409,424, leaving the building with an operational deficit of $5,598,123, data show. The building has earned interest income of $1,418,713 but has also paid out $4,788,713 in interest, resulting in a net loss of $3,370,425. 

Meanwhile, Oakhill Renaissance Place has accumulated capital expenditures of $15,761,425 since it has come under the county’s stewardship, according to the analysis.  

Income generated from grants, rent and interest total $23,229,773 over the 15-year period. Total expenditures from operations, interest and capital costs total $47,959,562, the latest numbers say, resulting in a cumulative net loss of $24,729,789 to the county.

The auditor’s data show that the building has posted a net loss every year since 2006. The operations lose about $1 million a year, the auditor’s report states, while the building is 52% occupied.

“Attempts to lease additional space have been hindered by the high cost of renovating to make it suitable for a tenant,” the press release said.

Mahoning County Auditor Ralph Meacham says that he first presented data on Oakhill about five years ago and thought it was time to release updated figures on the building.  

“We redid the study and saw the trends continuing without any improvement,” Meacham says. “You’d like to break even, but you’re not breaking even on the operating side.”

Meacham says he hopes the numbers will help initiate discussion about Oakhill’s future.

“I’m trying to spur the conversation in that it’s time to get a plan for this place,” he says. “There’s going to be pain involved. It’s not breaking even. I don’t see it breaking even. So the county needs to formulate long-term plans to come to a solution.”

Commissioner Anthony Traficanti, who voted to approve the acquisition in 2006, says that the building is still a vital part of the county’s operations. “It’s home to our departments. We earn about $1 million in revenue each year. So it still has a lot of potential,” he says.

He said that county officials would meet in January to discuss not just Oakhill, but all of the county’s buildings. 

“Come the first of the year, we’re going to be doing an entire evaluation of every building Mahoning County owns, not just Oakhill,” the commissioner says.

Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti says the idea is to obtain a comprehensive picture of the county’s holdings and proceed from there. “We’re looking at everything, assessing all of our buildings on what we need to do in the future.”

Mahoning County purchased Oakhill Renaissance Place in July 2006 for $75,000 and subject to all liens. The county wanted to consolidate offices in the 350,000 square-foot building, formerly Southside Hospital. When the hospital closed in the late 1990s, a nonprofit organization, the Southside Community Development Corp., assumed title to the building.The SCDC filed for bankruptcy in May 2006.

Commissioners Traficanti and Dave Ludt in 2006 voted in favor of the county’s acquisition of Oak Hill where it could then relocate its Department of Job and Family Services from Garland Plaza, a now-demolished plaza then owned by a division of the Cafaro Co.  

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.