City Reacquires Former Grocery Store Site from One Health Ohio

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city of Youngstown is reclaiming possession of the former Bottom Dollar Food store where One Health Ohio had planned to open a $4 million clinic.

The city’s Board of Control approved the clawback purchase of 2649 Glenwood Ave. and related parcels from Ohio North East Health Systems Inc., which does business as One Health Ohio, for $150,000 at its meeting Thursday morning. The action come five years after the city sold the 18,000-square-foot property to the health services provider for the same amount.

“This is something I’ve been pushing for us to do for about six months now. I’m happy to see this development,” Councilwoman Anita Davis, 6th Ward, said after the meeting.

One Health Ohio operates seven comprehensive health centers in Mahoning, Trumbull and Stark counties, including at its headquarters in Youngstown. It also operates four Rise Recovery addiction treatment centers.

During a news conference with Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, Davis and other officials that followed the March 2018, Board of Control meeting at which the city approved the sale of the site, One Health Ohio CEO Ron Dwinnells outlined plans to spend $4 million to convert and equip the shuttered store into a health clinic. He expected to provide core services at the new clinic within a year and expand to offer additional services within two years.  

The health provider “didn’t fulfill their obligations,” Davis said.

The city acquired the former grocery store site in 2015. Built on the site of the former Cleveland Elementary School and an adjacent playground, the store was one of three that Bottom Dollar Food opened in Youngstown in 2012 and which subsequently shuttered in 2014 after Aldi Inc. acquired the chain.

The city solicited development proposals for the site before choosing One Health Ohio. The development agreement with One Health Ohio, dated Dec. 18, 2017, called for selling the property back to the city in the event of a “material breach” of the agreement, defined as “any violation of this agreement that results in this project not opening within the first two years of the agreement.”

When it became apparent that the project was stalled, the city moved into what Law Director Jeff Limbian characterized as “very productive and friendly conversations” with One Health Ohio about the pace of development. They determined it was in the best interests of both parties for One Health Ohio to return the South Side property to the city.

“Both parties agreed that since benchmarks were not met by the dates designated in the agreement, the best recourse was for the city to activate the claw back provision,” Nikki Posterli, Brown’s chief of staff and director of the city’s community planning and economic development department, said in an email.

“There were many reasons to hope that their efforts in other places would ultimately prove successful here. The nature of city government is such that when a private entity is enthusiastic that they are going to do the right thing, that they will in fact do that,” Limbian said. “Unfortunately, the promises made were not kept, and the mayor showed them an abundance of patience. Now is the time to move on.”

Representatives of One Health Ohio did not respond to requests for comment.

City officials are in discussions regarding potential uses for the property, although both Davis and Limbian declined to offer additional details.

“There are plans and things that are in the works,” Davis said. “I’m very optimistic.”

Limbian said he had heard there is a plan for the property but that he was not privy to those discussions. He acknowledged the concept of working with the Western Reserve Port Authority, which has a property transfer agreement with the city and which has greater flexibility to work directly with a potential developer, but he was uncertain whether that was the direction the city would take.  

“I just know that there have been discussions with just one or more entities. Where it’s going to land, I really don’t know,” he said.

The administration is in “early discussions” regarding the property, and under its memorandum of understanding it reserves the right to seek its assistance, Posterli said.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.