Site Prep for Chill Can Plant Shows Downtown Vista

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Until recently, the two city blocks bordered by Fruit Street to the east and Lane Avenue to the west on the East Side were filled with thick woods and overgrown brush.

Along both streets stood 15 vacant houses leftover from a neighborhood that thrived some 40 years ago and where hundreds of people lived.

Almost all of it has disappeared in less than two months. Nearly all of the houses and vegetation along the western side of Fruit Street and both sides of Lane Avenue are gone, opening up a vista to downtown Youngstown that for decades was obscured by residential homes and tall trees.

Crews were out Wednesday conducting preparatory site work to make way for Joseph Co. International’s $20 million “chill can” plant that will manufacture the world’s first commercial self-chilling beverage can.

Operators maneuvered backhoes, front-loaders and dump trucks as they graded the 21-acre site – a collection of more than 40 individual lots that the city helped cobble together to provide the Joseph Co. with the property it needs to move forward.

Mayor John McNally said that he met with company CEO Mitchell Joseph several days ago and that Joseph expressed his enthusiasm for the project and how it’s progressing.

“He’s really excited that things are starting to move along,” McNally said.

The mayor noted considerable site preparation work remains before construction on the plant can begin. “There’s still a significant amount of site work to be done there,” the mayor said, “and that will probably continue for awhile.”

These preparations include infrastructure improvements such as a new waterline, he said.

“It’s really changed the landscape over there,” McNally said. “We’re excited to see the movement of dirt and the Joseph Co.’s people working on it.”

Officials broke ground for the project in early November at 130 Lane Ave., the site where Joseph’s great-grandfather started the Star Bottling Co. in 1921.

Joseph, who once lived on the East Side, has said the complex would encompass between four and six buildings devoted to administration, plastics-injection molding, distribution and research and development. The Youngstown campus is projected to manufacture one billion self-chilling cans annually.

The Joseph Co., based in Irvine, Calif., patented the self-chilling process. The actual cans would be produced for beverage companies elsewhere by other manufacturers and then modified at the East Side plant with the self-chill feature. The self-chill mechanism would be manufactured at the plant.

The project is projected to create 257 jobs over three years; the goal is to advance this self-chilling technology such that it could be used in other applications, such as cosmetics, athletics and the military.

Joseph, who graduated from Youngstown State University in 1969, said his company plans to establish a program with YSU that would allow for student internships.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.