Town Center Boosts Real Estate Market in Columbiana

COLUMBIANA, Ohio – A project years in the making, the first phase of Town Center at Firestone Farms, is nearing its completion. All the spaces are accounted for and work remains on just two. And the businesses already there – the first tenants opened in late 2016 – are seeing success as well.

Salem Regional Medical Center’s office has a steady flow of patients in and out. A few doors down, the same goes for Stone Fruit Coffee Co. And the Orange Leaf frozen yogurt shop is one of the Oklahoma City chain’s top stores.

“For something like this to seemingly spring up out of a corn field and become something like this in a matter of a few years is impressive,” says George Berick, owner of Lakeside Realty. “When I worked with Mercy Health on their Austintown location, it took almost four years just to get the land. This stuff takes time.”

Lakeside represents the housing development, Homestead at Firestone Farms, and is opening an office in the Town Center development. The office is under construction, one of two spaces in Phase I still being worked on, along with a winery.

Berick purchased Gallagher Clark & Carney Realty Group last summer. He had seen the development going on in Columbiana County and the efforts at Town Center, and wanted to commit to the area.

“It’s always been good and it’s been getting better and better,” he says. “There’s a shortage, actually, of properties and it’s getting tough to find space. We’ve got the Pittsburgh market that comes this way for lower taxes and because it’s more friendly to buy real estate here – it’s less expensive.”

While he is seeing more activity in the Columbiana market, in terms of both buildings being sold and new construction, Berick notes that inventory is proving an obstacle.

“The unfortunate thing is the inventory is low nationwide,” he says. “People are feeling more comfortable and the inventory has been going down steadily since the foreclosure market went down.”

Berick declines to say what he’s paying for his office in Town Center, but said it’s comparable to Lakeside’s office in Calcutta.

Town Center owner Tom Mackall says leasing prices depend on the tenant and “depends on what we do with the individual spaces.”

The real estate broker says he’s heard of a few other real estate agents in the area turn their focus to the Columbiana area. Among those setting up to expand is Northwood Realty, which bought the former Arrowhead Lanes just north of the hub where state routes 14, 46 and 164 converge. Northwood agent John Horvath says the group plans to convert the bowling alley into a commercial plaza.

“We’ve had a lot of tenants show interest looking to locate there,” he says. “We’ll be ready to go in late spring or early summer.”

The interest in the area has been spurred in part by the developments at Firestone Farms, which include medical offices, a banquet center and golf course in addition to Town Center.

“[Mackall] has a lot of local tenants occupying that plaza and he’s done an incredible job,” Horvath says.

With Orange Leaf the sole exception, all tenants at Town Center are either small businesses or branches of other local institutions.

Phase II will most likely be more of the same, although with a second level to the buildings.

Right now, Mackall says, the current plan is to have that space become apartments, although that could change.

“If we have somebody really interested in office space, that we use part of it for that on the second story,” he says.

Site preparation is underway at the space adjacent to Phase I and the space across Route 14 is ready for buildings to go up, with utilities installed and roadways ready. That site also features two barns, he adds.

Plans are to use the larger of the two as an event hall while the smaller will be a Harvey Firestone museum. Which part is developed first – the area next to the first phase or the space across the road – remains to be seen.

The second phase will keep the same atmosphere and have a layout similar to the first section, with commercial offices on one side, retail on the other.

“It’s good for foot traffic. The [retail] businesses aren’t bargaining for foot traffic against my office or Salem Regional,” Berick says. “If I just want to get my kid a smoothie, I don’t have to worry about there being no place to park because the hospital is doing X-rays all day.”

Critical to the development of Firestone Farms, Mackall adds, is improving the intersection of state routes 7 and 14. Work began last year on a $2.75-million project that will include the addition of turn lanes, new traffic signals, improved lighting and widened lanes. The project is expected to be finished by this autumn.

After work is done on the current spaces, Mackall plans to do more at Town Center, although that work is far down the line.

“I wouldn’t want it all over in one year. It’s more fun to spread it out,” Mackall says. “And there’s also the financing for it all. The plan is do something every year until it’s done. It might be 10 years. It might be longer.”

Pictured: Town Center at Firestone Farms.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.