Banking & Finance

Local Investors Buy Warren’s Huntington Building for $500K

WARREN, Ohio – The head of the real estate group that purchased the Huntington Bank building in downtown Warren says they want to see the positive momentum downtown continue.

Midwest Ventures & Consulting, a local real estate investment and management group, closed on the building Friday for $500,000, President Steve Lewis reported this morning. The sale was brokered by Kutlick Realty LLC, based in Boardman, and closed Dec. 29.

Lewis said his group was motivated to purchase the property in part because of the efforts of developer Mark Marvin. Marvin’s Downtown Development Group LLC has acquired and is redeveloping several downtown properties, including most recently the Robins Theater building.

“I’ve worked down here about 30 years. We’ve seen the plans come and go without much to show for it, but Mark is making it happen,” Lewis said. “There’s a nice, positive wave in terms of what’s going on there.”

Mike Keys, city community development director, noted changes taking place downtown over the past decade, including the Raymond John Wean Foundation’s rehabilitation of its downtown Warren building, Paul Clouser’s rehabilitation of the former Showcase Books building, and Marvin’s projects, among other investments

“When you start seeing the private dollars coming in, you have to be encouraged by that,” Keys said. “We’re really confident Steve will do a nice job with that building.”

He also said the city will provide any help it can.

Lewis said his company has focused mostly on multifamily real estate and the Huntington building presents an opportunity to diversify.

“There’s a little bit of emotion and passion as part of this thing, too. All of us are motivated to see this positive momentum [downtown] continue,” he said, noting that all of the investors are from the Valley. “Local ownership is always a good thing.”

Marvin said he spoke with Lewis “a long time ago” when he and his group looked into purchasing the Huntington Bank building, which is across from the Mahoning Building, that Marvin owns.

“It’s fantastic that he’s doing it,” Marvin said. “We look for big things from them.”

Lewis and his group are the first entity to follow up on his efforts to boost foot traffic and office activity in the downtown.

Midwest Ventures has “a couple of ideas” for the property, but none Lewis said he is in a position to share. Despite growth in the residential market in other downtowns, including Warren – where Marvin is developing residential units – and Youngstown, that market is “not a priority right now” for Midwest Ventures, athough the company could evaluate mixed use for the property down the road, Lewis said.

“With everything else that’s going on downtown, it’s going to be more attractive for professional service organizations to be downtown. So our No. 1 objective is to keep the building commercial,” he said. “The office space there is excellent. The views are fantastic. … You are hard-pressed to find an office center that has its own parking and it does. That is so important to tenants these days.”

About 40% of the building’s 80,000 square feet of rentable space is occupied and Huntington has extended its lease for another 10 years. “They are going to be a valued anchor tenant for us for a long time to come,” Lewis said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.