Cafaro Vows More Charitable Support for Trumbull Endeavors

NILES, Ohio — The Cafaro Foundation’s donation of $100,000 toward the renovation of the athletic stadium in Howland Township is part of an increased commitment to Trumbull County as the Cafaro Co. prepares to move its headquarters, Anthony Cafaro Sr. said Thursday.

“We have many, many friends, many sincere friends, true friends in Trumbull County,” Cafaro Sr., retired president of the Cafaro Co., said in the enter court of Eastwood Mall.

“They’ve always been supportive of us. They’ve congratulated us on our successes. They have not given us undue criticism,” he continued. “This gift from the Cafaro Foundation toward this project,” he paused — “It’s a small token of our continuing involvement in, investment in, appreciation for and commitment to Trumbull County, and in particular to Howland Township.”

The retired executive’s comments echoed the sentiments he expressed last October when the company formally confirmed it would relocate its headquarters from Youngstown to a new office building adjacent to the mall. At that time, Cafaro’s comments were aimed at Mahoning County officials, with whom he clashed over plans to relocate the county Department of Job and Family Services from the McGuffey Mall, and at The Vindicator (READ STORY), which has extensively covered the criminal charges related to county officials attempting to keep a lucrative lease at a Cafaro property.

Regarding his company’s move to Niles, “That’s going to happen later this year or perhaps the first few months of next year,” he said. “As part of that, and in light of that relocation, we have renewed, and are substantially increasing our commitments to, many worthwhile causes throughout Trumbull County.”

Cafaro stressed the “excellent cooperative relationship” with township leaders who have “always encouraged us to invest in this area” and have repeatedly shown repeatedly they will “work with us in partnership toward the betterment of the community.”

The proposed $1.85 million renovation of the stadium, to be done in three phases, involves installation of new turf for the playing field, improvements to the infrastructure, ticket office, gates, fencing, and “new and revamped seating for the stadium,” said Kevin Wyndham, president of the Howland Community Stadium Foundation.

“This has been quite an undertaking,” he said. So far about $400,000 has been raised, which includes the Cafaro donation, with another $200,000 pledged, he added.

“It’s a real catalyst and a pacesetter. It’s our largest donation to date,” he remarked of the Cafaros’ gift. “We’re hoping and they’re hoping that this spurs additional donations.”

“We’re extremely proud to be part of the Howland community and we’re happy to be in a position to assist in this very important project,” Cafaro said. Although the property where the Eastwood Mall Complex sits was annexed into Niles in the 1960s, the land remains within the Howland Local Schools district. The Cafaro Co. pays $1.5 million annually to the school district. “We’re very happy about that. We’re very proud about that,” Cafaro stated.

Cafaro, a graduate of Ursuline High School in Youngstown, was careful to point out the foundation’s gift wasn’t a precondition of the hope expressed: he and several members of his family, also graduates of Ursuline, would like to see a series of games between their alma mater and Howland. “It would fill the stadium,” he predicted.

Based on projections of the general contractor for relocating the Cafaro Co. corporate headquarters to Niles, the timetable is likely next January or February, said Cafaro spokesman Joe Bell.

“That’s a little slippage from the original projections,” Bell said. “It’s not unusual to see that one phase or another is going to take more time.”

“Quite frankly, it’s going a little bit more slowly than we had anticipated. But the weather has not been the greatest for construction this winter,” Cafaro lamented. “The structural steel is basically 100% [completed]. We’ve issued our contracts for the enclosures of the building and the interior finishing, and it’s going to be late this year, first part of next year.”

As for its headquarters on Belmont Avenue, a couple of interested parties have toured the property, Bell reported.

“That’s something that may take a little time,” he remarked. “We’re talking about 50,000 square feet of office space and it could be adaptable to any number of uses.”

In addition to expecting greater efficiency, Cafaro said the new headquarters will be a “catalyst for additional people” to come to the Eastwood complex and shop in its stores and eat in the restaurants. “We’ve got 200 employees. They have to eat their lunch every day somewhere. It’s going to make it easier for them to go shopping at Eastwood,” he said.

“Success breeds more success,” he added. “You cannot just be a retail center anymore. You have to try to be everything to everyone to some extent.” Citing the theaters, restaurants, offices and hotels, Cafaro concluded, “That’s what you have to be to have a true regional mall.”

PICTURED: Anthony Cafaro Sr. presents a $100,000 check to Kevin Wyndham, president of the Howland Community Stadium Foundation.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.