Canfield Sees Residential, Commercial Growth

CANFIELD, Ohio — Residential growth, accompanied by measured commercial development, is steadily changing the landscape of Canfield Township. Simultaneously, this part of Mahoning County remains a staunchly rural community with thousands of acres preserved as productive farmland.

New housing starts command the most interest when it comes to construction in the township, says zoning inspector Dave Morrison. “We’ve been very fortunate that since 2006, 30% of all the housing starts in Mahoning County have been in Canfield,” he reports.

The township has issued five new housing permits thus far in 2015, with a total valuation of $1.1 million, or an average of $230,400 for each new house. “Last year at this time,” Morrison says, “we had 13, but it took longer for the weather to break this year.”

Thirty-six new housing permits were issued during 2014, valued at $9.5 million, Morrison says. “The township has moved along steadily, even during the downturn.” A year earlier, new residential development stood at $12.2 million.

During the Great Recession of 2008-09, new housing starts dipped, but values held steady during that bleak period. In 2008, for example, the township’s residential real estate market enjoyed an investment of $8.6 million on 35 new single-family housing starts. In 2009, the number of permits fell to 24, but total valuation stood at $8.7 million.

“When you combine everything, it makes for a great place to live,” Morrison says of Canfield.

The commercial corridor along U.S. Route 224 from state Route 11 to Tippecanoe Road provides an ample supply of retail, entertainment and service businesses, while there is plenty of room for residential growth in developments such as Westford Lifestyle Community, Ironwood Commons and Summerwind Development, he says.

“Prices have also been holding their own,” Morrison notes. The average price for a single- family house in the township is $299,608, he says, while the average price for a condominium is $203,294.

Still, overall residential development has tempered compared to the healthy building years of the early 2000s. In 2004, for example, the township recorded 101 single-family housing starts that totaled $24.2 million.

“On average, we were doing about 75 to 85 a year. Now, we’re at about half that,” he says.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of the township is zoned agricultural, and it’s likely to remain this way, Morrison says. “We’ve increased the depth of the 224 commercial corridor from Tippecanoe to Route 11,” he says, rather than rezone other thoroughfares to accommodate new commercial development. “That’s where the retail will remain.”

U.S. 224 heading west from the intersection of Palmyra Road is also zoned business, Morrison reports, but its depth is just 300 feet. “There’s always interest in that area, but there’s no sanitary sewer and water,” he notes. “We’d like to pick up the Calico Lane and Cayman Bluff development with sanitary, and then extend it to 224 going west.”

There is also room for pockets of commercial development elsewhere in the township, Morrison says. The latest project is an assisted-living home owned and managed by Girard-based Windsor House Inc.

Initially, Morrison says, Windsor House requested that the land be annexed to the city of Canfield so the new complex could obtain water and sewer services. However, annexation proved difficult because the township land wasn’t contiguous to city property.

The result was a joint economic development agreement, or JEDD, that was reached in February. Under the agreement, the city would not annex the site for 25 years and in the meantime provide water and sewer services to the site, Morrison notes. In exchange, the city will receive money generated from a 1% income tax on Windsor employees.

Windsor House’s Canfield operation stands to employ about 70 people. “It’s about a $5 million project,” Morrison says.

Business development has moved along at a steady pace, Morrison says.

In 2014, there were 104 permits issued for new commercial construction projects, either new buildings or expansions. In 2013, the township saw $4.8 million in new commercial construction permits.

New retail is likely to be slated for land just off 224 in mixed-use developments such as Ironwood and Westford, Morrison says. However, there are also parcels available for new development along the thoroughfare, he notes.

New construction is ubiquitous at Westford Lifestyle Community as each year the 400-acre development adds new residential, commercial and retail projects to its portfolio.

“We’ll have 12 more condominiums under construction at Bradford Greene in the next three weeks,” says Chuck Whitman, president of CTW Development Corp. and Westford developer. “There are also a lot of houses that builders are getting started on. It looks very strong for residential.”

Work on extending an interior road in Westford to Raccoon Road should begin this year as well, Whitman says. The road would provide access to Westford from one of the main roads in the township. Another interior road is planned for the Charles Gate section of Westford, which would open up another 14 large executive lots for development there.

“In all, we plan to open 70 lots this year,” he says.

Seven of the 12 condos under construction have been sold, he adds, and Whitman expects all to sell before they’re finished. “They’ll be gone by the time we get them built,” he says.

The most visible sign of new construction in the development is the new Courtyard by Marriott hotel near the Kennsington Golf Club in Westford. It should open this summer.

Once the hotel is finished, Whitman wants to begin construction on a new banquet center that would seat 900 people. “We’re looking to get that started by the end of the year,” he says. There are also plans for more retail at the front of the development facing 224.

Plans include the construction of an assisted-living complex. “It’s been going extremely well so far,” Whitman says.

New residential and retail activity is also part of Ironwood Commons’ future, says developer Michal Naffah, president of Naffah Hospitality Group. “Everybody in our plat is doing well. The hotel, the assisted-living facility, the restaurants – it’s all moving in the right direction.”

Ironwood Commons began developing land at the corner of Raccoon Road and 224 more than seven years ago, Naffah says.

In that time, the development has landed a hotel, the Hampton Inn & Suites, and four restaurants – Bob Evans, Ruby Tuesday, Whitefire Grille and Inner Circle. The next phase is to introduce single-family housing to the development

“We’ve taken our time with it to make sure it’s done right,” Naffah says. “We needed a hotel, so we brought in a hotel. We needed an assisted living facility, so we did that. I’ve tried to do things and fill the needs of what we don’t have in the area.”

Two years ago, Briarfield’s new assisted-living operation, the Inn at Ironwood, opened to fill a void in the community. “Growth in the Canfield area is definitely going to continue,” Naffah says. “We’ve got quite a bit of room for expansion and we’re working on some retail.”

Plans call for the construction of new residential units, Naffah says, but that is predicated on how the housing market fares. “We’re forecasting on doing some residential, but we’re not exactly sure yet,” he says. “It depends on what the housing market does. When it bounces back, we’ll be ready.”

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