Firestone Farms Seeks Tax Abatement for Second TownCenter Building

COLUMBIANA, Ohio – The developer of Firestone Farms TownCenter is seeking a 100% real estate tax abatement for 15 years for a proposed second building at the site.

Firestone Homestead LLC wants to build a $10 million building adjacent to the existing TownCenter that would have leasable business and retail space, a two-story restaurant with a rooftop terrace, and second-floor several apartments that could be rented as overnight and short-term lodging. The building would have 40,000 square feet of leasable space.

Firestone Homestead also plans to build replicas of the childhood homes of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison adjacent to the TownCenter building that would be available to rent for overnight stays. A full abatement is also being sought for these replica structures, which would each be 700 square feet and have a total construction cost of $600,000. 

A partial replica of Harvey Firestone’s home in Columbiana is already on the site, where it serves as a backdrop for outdoor concerts and movies. Ford and Edison were friends of Firestone and the three industrialists would occasionally get together at the Firestone homestead, which is near the TownCenter site.

The abatement proposal will be on the agenda at the Aug. 24 meeting of the Columbiana Exempted Village Board of Education. The board must approve the proposal for it to proceed, according to Lance Willard, city manager. Columbiana City Council will address the proposal at its Sept. 7 meeting.

If the abatement is approved, construction will begin in the spring of 2022 and is slated to be complete in the summer of 2023.

The first TownCenter building was constructed before the state’s Community Reinvestment Area program was adopted by city council and therefore id not get any abatement, Willard said.

In its application for the tax abatement, Firestone Homestead LLC points out that TownCenter’s second building will generate approximately 75 full-time equivalent jobs. The principals of the company are Tom, Jeremy and Denise Mackall. 

Jeremy Mackall, vice president of Firestone Homestead LLC, is in charge of the project. He could not be reached for comment.

In Firestone Homestead’s letter to city council requesting the tax abatement, the developer states that it has already invested over $10 million in the first TownCenter building and all the roads and utilities that it requires. The letter is signed by Tom, Denise and Jeremy Mackall.

“The second building will have much the same look as the first,” reads the letter. “However [it] will have a second floor throughout. We hope to have a two-story restaurant that has a terrace that overlooks the clock tower area. We also hope to offer apartments and office space on the second floor.”

The TownCenter development is at the intersection of state Routes 7 and 14. It’s nestled into the sprawling Firestone Farms residential development, which includes homes and an 18-hole golf course.

The first TownCenter building, which was completed in 2018, has several restaurants, a winery and a craft beer shop and lounge, as well as business offices and a medical facility. A corner of it has a courtyard and clock tower that features outdoor concerts, movies and festivals. Free concerts by tribute bands this summer have drawn crowds upward of 5,000 people.

In their letter to city council, the Mackalls spoke of the necessity of the tax abatement.

“A lot of investment went into making sure the TownCenter would be aesthetically pleasing and built to last, and a lot of time and energy goes into making sure it stays that way,” they wrote. “The downside of having a nice and expensive building is that the real estate taxes reflect [it]. Real estate taxes for the property containing TownCenter accournts for almost 20% of our total revenue at TownCenter. In addition, we paid over $847,00 in real estate taxes in 2018, 2019 and 2020 for all of our Columbiana property.”

The original Firestone family homestead was located near the present site of TownCenter, but south of state Route 14. In their letter to council, the Mackalls wrote that their family “has a deep appreciation for the legacy of Harvey Firestone and we believe in preserving that legacy for years to come. We renovated the Firestone grain barn that currently serves as a home to Ill Will Brewing. Now we would like to build replicas of Henry Ford’s and Thomas Edison’s childhood homes next to the Firestone grain barn [to serve as two suites for overnight guests].”

The Mackalls also pointed out that TownCenter events  attract guests from the surrounding area and have so far raised over $50,000 for local charities.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.