Councilman Pledges $250K for McGuffey Plaza Remediation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – City Councilman Jimmy Hughes pledged to allocate at least $250,000 from his ward’s American Rescue Plan allocation for cleanup of the former McGuffey Plaza property on the East Side.

Hughes, who represents the city’s 2nd Ward, was joined by representatives of the Western Reserve Port Authority and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, as well as fellow City Council members Anita Davis, 6th Ward, and Julius Oliver, 1st Ward, at the approximately 22-acre site Monday morning.

The site is owned by the WRPA, which acquired it just over a year ago and is in the process of conducting a Phase II environmental survey of the site and an outparcel it acquired later in the year.

“Our ultimate goal is to put this property back into productive use,” Anthony Trevena, the port authority’s executive director, said. The site is unique because of its size and proximity to freeway access, providing “a lot of opportunity” for uses such as manufacturing or distribution, and WRPA representatives already have spoken to several potential developers about the site.

“One of the biggest challenges that we face in economic development is having enough shovel-ready sites to handle the economic growth, and it’s difficult to get the public sector to commit to investing in sites because of the time it takes to bring them to readiness,” Trevena said. “It’s sort of like toiling to plant a tree knowing somebody else is going to one day enjoy the shade.”

The $250,000 Hughes pledged, if approved by City Council and the city’s Board of Control, would go toward site remediation. If more money is required, he would seek to allocate those funds from his ward’s ARP allocator. Each of the city’s seven wards was allocated $2 million out of the $82.7 million in ARP funds awarded to the city. 

The $250,000 should cover the expected costs of the site remediation, work that will include removal of concrete pads on the site and potential contamination from a dry-cleaning business that was there, Trevena said. If the environmental review doesn’t uncover any surprises, the site could be project-ready in a year, he predicted.   

“This is a fantastic step to get this in the hands of serious developers,” said Shea MacMillan, Regional Chamber vice president, economic development. The chamber has submitted the property in response to leads from site selectors, and the “lack of due diligence” and the environmental unknown have discouraged its selection.

“What’s unique about the site is its proximity to downtown, supporting the possible additive play,” MacMillan said. “We’ve had a lot of companies that want to have proximity to America Makes that are looking for new space. The square footage just doesn’t exist, so this can be a fantastic option for that.”  

Projects like the McGuffey remediation can show residents of other wards how properties can be put back into use, Davis said.

“I imagine it being just the same as our downtown. Once you get an anchor project off the ground, it brings more development,” Oliver said.

Pictured at top: From left, Guy Coviello, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber; Councilman Jimmy Hughes, 2nd Ward; Anthony Trevena, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority; and Councilwoman Anita Davis, 6th Ward.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.