Mahoning Commissioners OK Mall CRA Application

BOARDMAN, Ohio – The Mahoning County Board of Commissioners Thursday morning approved creation of a Community Reinvestment Area at the Southern Park Mall to help offset costs of the $30 million renovation now underway. 

Commissioners held their regularly scheduled meeting at the Boardman Township Government Center to consider the incentive for the mall project. The CRA, once it receives final approval, will provide an abatement on increased property taxes resulting from the improvements to the mall, which is owned by Washington Prime Group Inc., based in Columbus.     

In late December, the Boardman Township Board of Trustees approved a Community Entertainment District application sought by the mall’s owners.   

About 50 people attended the meeting, including Washington Prime CEO Lou Conforti, and its vice president of development, Matt Jurkowitz; Denise DeBartolo York, whose father, the late Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., originally developed the mall; and representatives of organized labor.

The CRA represents a portion of the $6 million in incentives being sought by Washington Prime. Many of the proposed improvements, including stormwater retention and creation of public spaces, are important but don’t generate much of any revenue, Jurkowitz told commissioners. “As a result, the mall and WPG needs help with those non-revenue-generating expenses,” he said. 

Commissioners, mall tenants and others spoke in support of the CRA application during the meeting. 

“No tax dollars that are currently being paid are being abated,” Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler emphasized. 

Attorney Carl Rafoth, a township resident, offered the sole dissenting remarks concerning the CRA. Rafoth, who has previously criticized aspects of the project, confined his remarks to the issue of whether the property meets the requirements of a CRA as defied in the Ohio Revised Code. 

The CRA application, which Boardman trustees and the Boardman Board of Education support, will now be submitted for consideration by the Ohio Development Services Agency. 

Read more Friday morning at our website.

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