Board of Control Approves Pact to Transfer Sites to WRPA

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority will now work with Youngstown to market properties and get them into the hands of developers.  

The city Board of Control’s adoption of the agreement at its meeting Thursday morning followed similar action by City Council Wednesday. The agreement is modeled on the arrangement Western Reserve Port Authority has with the city of Warren. 

Under the one-year agreement, which will renew automatically unless either party gives written notice it wants to terminate the arrangement, the city can transfer properties to the port authority, which can deal directly with a developer.

The agreement calls for identifying city-owned properties that are available for lease, sale, renovation or development, as well as properties not owned by the city that could be obtained for the same purposes. The port authority would be responsible for promotion, marketing and sale of the identified properties. It would receive a $500 administration fee plus 5% of the gross transaction price for any property transfer.     

The city is in the process of identifying potential development sites, said Nikki Posterli, Youngstown’s community planning and economic development director. The city won’t transfer properties to the port authority until there is an end-user identified, she said. 

“The buildings and the properties that we’re looking at in the city of Youngstown, some of them are monumental,” said John Moliterno, WRPA’s executive director. “This could be very interesting as we go into the future.” 

Public entities such as municipalities often operate under restrictions that make getting assets into “suitable hands” for development “difficult,” said Anthony Trevena, economic development director for the port authority.

“We can sell directly to an end entity if it’s in the best interests of the community. Oftentimes with a municipality, they have to put it out to bid and they have to sell it at the highest bid or appraised value,” he continued. “Sometimes the end user potential is not to the best interest of the community.” 

Through the agreement the port authority has with Warren, WRPA has transferred the former Warren Scope Senior Center to developer Mark Marvin for its conversion to CharBenay’s Wine on the River. It also transferred properties for projects to the Trumbull County Historical Society and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. 

The city and the port authority spent a year putting together the agreement, Moliterno said, noting that he expects his board to consider the agreement at its July meeting. 

“As we move forward, I think we’re going to see some very exciting things are going to take place,” Moliterno said.  

“It’s a long-overdue partnership,” Posterli said. “There’s great value in public-private partnerships. This allows us to take the next step in order for the city to compete on a level that we haven’t been able to in previous years.”  

Other items the board of control approved include accepting a $20,000 grant from JumpStart Inc. and KeyBank for the COVID-19 Business Stabilization Fund. The city is creating the $500,000 fund to assist city businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. City Council also approved legislation accepting the funds at Wednesday’s meeting.   

Details are still being worked out on the COVID-19 fund to assist businesses, she said. The city is awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to finalize and announce guidelines for the program.

Potential uses for the funds the city would distribute include purchasing 

personal protective equipment or installing physical barriers to comply with social distancing requirements.   

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