Real Estate

LRC Realty to Acquire Shenango Valley Mall

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Shenango Valley leaders welcomed the announcement that LRC Realty in Akron will acquire the Shenango Valley Mall in Hermitage, Pa.

LRC and Hermitage officials announced Wednesday that the developer plans to purchase and redevelop the struggling retail property. LRC developed The Enclave student housing project near Youngstown State University that opened last year.

The property, 3033 E. State St., is owned by GMC-23, named for the 23 decendands of George F. McConnell, which acquired the mall in February following a legal fight with Iowa Square Realty of New York over the control of the lease.

The mall’s earlier owner, JSMN Shenango Valley Mall LLC of Paramus, N.J., defaulted on its mortgage in February 2018, 11 months after two anchor stores – Macy’s and Sears – closed their stores there. At the time, remaining tenants said they remained optimistic due to the mall’s site at the center of the Shenango Valley’s commercial district.

Neither a purchase price nor a project timeline were disclosed in the statement issued yesterday.

“To do things right, it will take time,” said Sherris Moreira, executive director of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Either way, this is an exciting turn of events for this area.”

LRC plans to redevelop the mall into “a vibrant space with multiple users and additional retail tenants,” according to a news release issued by Hermitage officials.

City officials have had several discussions with LRC representatives over the past few months, sharing the city’s vision, including conceptual drawings, for a redevelopment plan to re-energize the struggling retail center.

“LRC Realty has a very interesting track record of reinvention of retail properties – a perfect example being The Block Northway, which is the former Northway Mall. They completely renovated it and filled it with a wide variety of retail,” Moreira said. “The hope is that they can do the same with this location.”

In the release, Hermitage City Manager Gary Hinkson also expressed his enthusiasm for the project and touted LRC’s strong track record developing diverse commercial and mixed-use real estate properties.

“We have been working very hard, meeting with developers, state officials and potential tenants for the last two years to find a way for the Shenango Valley Mall site to be redeveloped in a manner that would serve the city and region well into the future,” Hinkson said.

The site has been a “high priority” for the Hermitage Board of Commissioners and has been a “major focus” of the Hermitage 2030 Comprehensive Plan steering committee, Hinkson said.

“We appreciate that LRC Realty is making this very substantial investment in our community and we recognize the efforts of the McConnell family for working with LRC to get this very positive outcome,” said William J. Moder III, president of the Hermitage Board of Commissioners, in the statement.

The site will see significant changes intended to help address the city’s goal for connectivity throughout the community, the city said in the announcement. The redevelopment plan for the property may also involve demolishing and renovating parts of the existing structure to create a sense of place for patrons.

Hinkson reaffirmed the city’s commitment to be a resource in seeing the vision implemented by working with LRC and playing a role in the development of infrastructure improvements expected to enhance the overall project.

The chamber’s role at this stage is to provide marketing support for Hermitage and the broader Shenango Valley, Moreira said.

“Though we had been aware of some movement for a while now, one of the important nuances of development is knowing when to go public and knowing when to keep quiet to respect the process as it unfolds,” she said. “Once all of this firms up, we’ll of course do our best to support the principals in any way we can.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.