Economic Development

Canfield Township Grows as a Business Hub

CANFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio – When Mike Naffah was growing up on his family farm on the corner of U.S. Route 224 and Raccoon Road in Canfield, the corridor was a two-lane highway. Sometimes, he would stand outside waiting to see a car or truck drive by. Today, you’d be hard pressed to not see someone drive by – at any time of day.

“Now there’s 38,000 a day driving by,” says Naffah, president of Naffah Hospitality Group.

Naffah’s father purchased the 35-acre property, today Ironwood Commons, in the 1930s for the family’s farm.  

“Canfield to me is Main Street USA,” Naffah says. “You can’t find a nicer place to live and raise a family. To keep people from moving out of Canfield, we needed to bring some commercial in for them to be able to accommodate them.”

The developer says he’s always had an idea of what he wanted to build on the property and it’s been based on: “What does Canfield really need?”

“Originally a hotel and then some restaurants and then from there an assisted living residence,” he answers his own question. “After that would be the villas. So if somebody, for example, lives in the assisted living residence, a relative could be living in a villa right next to them.”

On Naffah’s property, trees are being cleared for a residential development at Ironwood Commons, which will include 29 villas. “We already have a waiting list,” he says.

Naffah built the Hampton Inn & Suites 12 years ago and the Inn at Ironwood, the assisted living residence owned by Briarfield, seven years ago. Several plazas sit on the former farmland, filled with restaurants and professional-service businesses such as Burgan Real Estate, Ruby Tuesday, Bob Evans and Inner Circle Pizza. 

The newest building, a 11,000-square-foot plaza at the front of the property that faces 224, houses AT&T, Rubosky Chiropractic & Wellness, Ghossain’s Gourmet Mediterranean Foods and Dave’s Cosmic Subs. A 2,400-square-foot commercial space is available for lease.

One of Naffah’s newest ventures to open in Ironwood Commons is Scacchetti’s Ironwood Grille, which opened five months ago. Between Scacchetti’s, Bob Evans and the 224 plaza, Naffah is looking at developing another 18,000-square-foot retail plaza.

“It does take years. It’s not something that happens in six months,” he says. “It’s finding the tenants and negotiating the leases and doing the build-outs for them.”

The entire development has taken a lot of time and work to get to where it is today, he continues. 

Some of the changes Naffah has helped achieve in the township is changing the zoning to accommodate more commercial development. He also had a hand in the push 13 years ago to allow businesses in the township to serve liquor.

More businesses are also moving onto properties around Naffah’s development and he says part of it is because of the convenience and accessibility to state Route 11.

“All the development coming in has really helped the tax base for Canfield,” he says. “The hotel has helped bed taxes. It’s brought a lot of income into the community, tax dollars in the community and jobs. On our project alone, there were 500 jobs that were created between the restaurants and the assisted living, the hotel and all the plazas.”

In the coming decades, Naffah foresees the township continuing its development, although he’s unsure of how much more. “I don’t know if it’s going to be able to grow too, too much more – because you only need so much of retail and so much services and items and they’re coming in now,” he says. “But there’s still some things in the future that the community might need.”

Just east of Ironwood Commons, the Westford Lifestyle Community, owned by Chuck Whitman and his CTW Development Corp., recently began building its newest addition: a 26,000-square-foot banquet center attached to the Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

Overlooking Kennsington Golf Club, the 1,000-seat banquet center will include a grand ballroom, several breakout and theme rooms and a golf simulator. It is scheduled to open this summer.

“As far as Westford is concerned, the timing is just right,” says Traci DeCapua, zoning inspector for Canfield Township. “This has always been a part of [Whitman’s] plan. So the banquet facility was just the natural next step.”

The property catty-corner to Ironwood Commons on Route 224 and Raccoon Road includes a new plaza, also developed by CTW Development, that features Do-Cut Sales & Service and five more storefronts that have not yet been leased, DeCapua says.

Do-Cut moved its store in Boardman to the property in March, where it was originally open for 32 years before a fire in 2011.

The second-generation family business sells outdoor power equipment at showrooms in Warren and in Canfield. The decision to move back to Canfield was made in January 2018 after the business outgrew its Boardman space, says Lisa Miller, president of Do-Cut.

“We’re very happy to be back there and be part of the community again,” she says. “They treated us so well for 32 years and we hope to stay here.”

Sean Neuroh, sales manager at Do-Cut adds: “You get a lot of eyeballs with the location being right off the highway. Someone coming off has gas stations and anything they can think of right here. They don’t have to travel a long distance down the road to get to what they need.” 

The biggest difference Miller finds in the 10 years since Do-Cut was previously open in Canfield Township is the number of cars she sees in front of her business. 

“I was amazed the first day I was here at simply the amount of traffic on Raccoon and on 224,” she says. “Right across from Raccoon we got the new Starbucks, Get-Go and Chipotle there on the corner … We love it.”

Under construction at the front of the Do-Cut property is a 3,000-square-foot building that will house a Verizon Wireless store, DeCapua says.

“There’s also a spot for an additional building on that property that right now we’re just not sure what’s going in there,” she says. “But there’s also room for another maybe 3,000- to 3,500-square-foot, single building on that property as well.”

DeCapua finds there are more professional-type of businesses moving into the township versus traditional retail stores. 

“We have chiropractors, phone stores, restaurants and banks,” the zoning inspector says. “I would  love to see more specialty shops come into this  area. But right now we are focusing on these professions.”

There are still many commercial spaces open to lease or build on for new businesses to move into the township, DeCapua adds. “There are a lot of spaces out there available, but I think businesses want new,” she says. “They want something that they can tailor to their needs from the onset. We have that property and we have that ability right now.”

Pictured: Five new retail spaces, built by CTW Corp., are available for lease at U.S. Route 224 and Raccoon Road.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.