Good Value Commercial Properties Off the Beaten Path

Find Good-Value Properties Off the Beaten Paths

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – When looking for commercial properties, it’s easy to turn your attention immediately to the top areas along U.S. routes 224 and 422. The benefits of being on the main drags are obvious. Those highways are the most heavily traveled, which draws in more customers, stores and advertising dollars.

But there are other less-traveled sites available where businesses can find value.

“[They’re] not on the beaten path, but more importantly the use isn’t obvious,” says Dan Crouse of Routh-Hurlbert Co., Warren.

Crouse points to buildings such as now-vacant supermarkets as potential sites for call centers or other offices that seek large, open floor plans. Mining for hidden gems in real estate, he says, requires the ability to see a space for what it could be rather than what it is.

“Once you look at the needs for a call center, they’re similar to the needs of a grocery store: four walls and open space,” Crouse offers as an example. “There’s a lot of repurposing going on here. A lot of businesses have simpler needs for space and that’s what makes these spaces hidden gems. Someone thinks of the space for one purpose and someone else thinks of it for something else.”

One such site Routh-Hurlbert has available is the former Sharon Steel Corp. and Taylor Winfield building on U.S. Route 62 in Hubbard Township. Offering 72,000 square feet and the features of a corporate headquarters – executive offices, board room, research labs, cafeteria and an enclosed garage – the building, which sits on 12.35 acres, is listed at $3 million.

“It’d be a phenomenal facility for a call center or a medical office. It needs to be updated, but it’s a good value,” Crouse says. “It has indoor parking for 20 cars. If you’re looking off the beaten path, this is where to look.”

Repurposing a site isn’t the only definition Crouse and other real estate agents offer for the real estate equivalent of diamonds in the rough.

Sometimes, a good value can be found near the primary commercial corridors, without being on the main drag or in the most-coveted spots sought by national retailers.

“There are some areas on 422 that aren’t necessarily those A locations. Even on 422, there are secondary spots,” says Bill Kutlick, owner of Kutlick Realty LLC in Boardman.

“We have three properties that we’re working on now [on 422]. They’re old buildings, old structures. And we’re taking the approach that if you have the vision and tear those buildings down, you can create something new.”

Similarly in Boardman, Platz Realty and Northwood Realty Services have sites available off of Route 224.

John Horvath of Northwood lists 5083 Market St., about a mile and a half north of the corridor. The former Callos Resources building, listed at $249,500, is move-in ready, offering 8,100 square feet of office space on a corner lot, Horvath says.

For Platz, leasing sales agent Don Thomas offers 8302 Southern Blvd., a 21,600-square-foot building with a 19,400-square-foot warehouse on nearly 9½ acres. It’s listed at $1,499,000.

“The land stretches back to Tod Avenue toward St. E’s [Boardman hospital]. It’s got acreage, an all-brick warehouse, flat room and it’s tenanted,” he says. “There’s not a lot of warehouse space in our world right now because of the good economic development that we have.”

Warehouse space is at a premium here, Kutlick adds, especially buildings between 5,000 and 35,000 square feet.

“If we get a space that’s 5,000 square feet, it’s not difficult to lease that space,” Kutlick continues, pointing to a recent transaction that brought a new tenant to a building on Performance Place, just off Poland Avenue, in Youngstown.

“It’s a good location with freeway accessibility, but it’s not like it’s on [route] 224.” he says. “We leased a 24,000-square-foot building and the tenant moved in a few weeks ago. That’s off the market and there are very few spaces like that.”

While not a retail-heavy area like the major corridors, downtown Youngstown continues to see its share of development. Office spaces are filling up and the arrival of the DoubleTree by Hilton is seen as another turning point for the central district. Among the available spaces Platz lists is 16 Wick, the former Dollar Bank building, appraised at $1.8 million with a total of 155,000 square feet available, although it can be segmented.

“The first couple of floors still have the banking area relatively intact. On floors three, four and five that housed the Urban Office Space for NYO Property Group, the offices are still intact. And as you go above, it’s more offices but it can be transformed,” Thomas says. “It could be retail. It could be offices. It could be student housing. The building is laid out in a way that it’s the definition of mixed use.”

Or, as Crouse notes, mixed-use properties may be far removed from commercial centers. Routh-Hurlbert has two listings falling into that category: 1087 N. Hubbard Road in Lowellville and 1710 Highland Ave. SW in Warren Township.

The building in Lowellville, once a steel fab shop, was built in 1976 and is listed at $900,000, or $33 per square foot. The building in Warren has 20,981 square feet of manufacturing space and 4,368 square feet of office space. It’s listed at $300,000, although the seller is flexible, Crouse says.

“It was there to service the steel slabs coming out of RG Steel and when that died, there’s a building with heavy cranes in it with nothing to do,” Crouse says. “It’s off the beaten path. But it’s modern and designed for heavy operations.”

Burgeoning markets can also offer good value, Northwood’s Horvath says. The agency has two rural properties that he considers hidden gems: 76.19 acres between state routes 5 and 11 in Cortland, listed at $585,000, and 68 acres at the intersection of Sharrott and West Middletown roads in North Lima, listed at $450,000.

“Both of those markets are growing like crazy and with housing the way it is, properties are selling as soon as they go on the market. These are the perfect environments for developers to get back into the market,” Horvath says. “Everything is market-driven. It’s always in flux and it’s cyclical. … What makes a good value today might not be as good a value in five years because real estate has changed.”

Pictured: The 72,000-square-foot former Sharon Steel corporate office building overlooks U.S. Route 62 in Hubbard Township.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.