Commercial Real Estate Brokers See Active Deal Flow

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – James Sabatine Jr. is encouraged by what he sees as a promising commercial real estate market.

At the former North Lima Giant Eagle store that Sabatine’s company, Trilogy Realty LLC, purchased a few years ago, the Dollar Tree discount chain is developing a new prototype store that’s expected to open in June.

“We’re redeveloping the plaza,” says Sabatine, Trilogy managing member. Pizza Joe’s occupies part of the plaza and a freestanding Dunkin’ Donuts recently opened on the site. And he reports interest in the plaza’s remaining space.

The redevelopment of the former grocery store building is just one of the prospects that encourages Sabatine and other local real estate developers and brokers.“Everything seems to be going really well,” he remarks. The former Aon Insurance building at the Creekside Professional Center on U.S. Route 224 in Boardman was just “totally updated,” he reports.

Creekside Place, also on Route 224, is full but a space should be opening there, he says. In addition, the site is adding Salt Sensations therapy spa, he says.

On state Route 46 in Trumbull County, Sabatine reports his company recently started construction on StoneBridge Grill & Tavern.

Bill Kutlick, broker at Kutlick Realty LLC, Boardman, reports activity in several sectors around the Mahoning Valley. “We’ve been busy. It’s been a good year,” he remarks. “But we have good inventory.”

Kutlick points to the many deals his firm has been involved with in recent months, including the North Lima Dunkin’ Donuts, the sale of an office complex on Market Street near St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital and the recently opened Extreme Air Trampoline Park in Boardman.

In addition, Ashley Furniture recently opened at Tiffany Square in Boardman, where Kutlick signed a lease for retailer Tuesday Morning and Chick-fil-A is completing its new restaurant.

Industrial properties that Kutlick represents include a newly listed 29,200-square-foot property at Performance Place in Youngstown.

“It’s been steady but the retail and restaurant activity is probably a little more predominant than manufacturing,” Kutlick observes.

Other deals include the sale of the Phoenix Grille at Addison Square in Canfield and the new Pizza Fire restaurant in Howland on Route 46.

Kutlick signed a lease for the southeastern corner of Route 224 and South Avenue, site of the former Park Diner. Ingress and egress had been an issue, but won’t be for the new user, which will demolish the building and construct a new one, Kutlick says. And the new project won’t be food related, he adds.

Chuck Joseph, broker with Routh-Hurlbert Real Estate in Warren, reports his company is “pleasantly busy” this year. Still, the company’s properties along the Route 46 corridor between the Eastwood Mall complex and state Route 82, have “not taken off” as he expected.

“I was hoping we would have some better luck,” he says.

Joseph reports signs of activity in downtown Warren, where a pair of developers is looking at projects.

Mark Marvin, president of the Marvin Group, has announced plans to develop apartments at properties his company purchased last year.

Another Warren native, Christopher Alan, founder and CEO of Auto Parkit LLC, is exploring the possibility of locating a plant and headquarters for his California company in the former Delphi Packard buildings on Dana St.

“The point is we’ve got some major hitters that are trying to make something happen in downtown Warren. To me, that’s good stuff,” Joseph
says.

Routh-Hurlbert is seeing activity related to medical offices, particularly from entities based in Akron or Cleveland that “want a presence in Warren,” he adds. The firm recently found land in Weathersfield Township for a company, which he wouldn’t identify, that plans to construct a building.

Routh’s new listings include a 72,000-square-foot light-duty manufacturing space on Crescent Street in Youngstown and the former Sharon Steel Corp. offices in Hubbard, Joseph says.

There have been inquiries regarding the Crescent Street building and the hope for the Sharon Steel property is that an entity along the lines of Akron Regional Hospital, Kent State University or Eastern Gateway Community College would be interested in using it as a branch that would draw from the Hubbard area and western Pennsylvania, Joseph says.

John Horvath, broker associate with commercial services at Northwood Realty Services, Poland, reports strong activity in the office market as it rebounds from the normal winter slowdown.

“We have a couple of projects that are leasing up but the prices are holding steady,” in the $10 to $12 per square foot range, Horvath says.

“The whole medical industry is in flux right now,” he observes. The medical office market seems “a little timid” because so much is happening in the industry. “But for the most part, the market for standard office space is chugging along,” he says.

In Boardman, Howland and Niles, many of the vacant commercial spaces are being repurposed, Horvath continues. “It’s not like there’s a lot of big retailers that are looking to come in,” he says, although he notes that Menards – which opened a store on Elm Road in Warren last year – is looking in the Boardman market. “How serious they are, time will tell,” he says.

In addition, the Meijer chain is exploring whether to open a store on Mahoning Avenue in Austintown. The retailer recently purchased the former Austintown Middle School building near the Austintown Plaza and is exploring zoning and other issues that might prevent the company from building on the site.

“That’s going to be a big deal. That’s going to bring a lot more retail activity to that sector,” Horvath says.

Jim Grantz, broker associate with Edward J. Lewis Inc., Youngstown, says he’s keeping busy securing sites in Cleveland and other markets for the Hot Head Burritos chain while local business remains sporadic.

“There’s a little bit of activity with retail space, with industrial space and with office space,” he says. Grantz is encouraged because the activity is spread through several sectors but it’s “just not real brisk,” he adds.

“You would think that with interest rates as low as they were that we’d be incredibly busy,” he says.

Typically some hesitation occurs during presidential election years, Grantz observes. “It seems like the pattern is that people take a wait-and-see attitude about how the results of the elections are going to affect them,” he says.

Pictured: Site in North Lima where Dollar General is planning to open a new prototype store.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.