Marvin Looks at Projects Beyond Courthouse Square

WARREN, Ohio – Well into renovation of the properties Mark Marvin already owns here, the developer has his eye on sites outside Courthouse Square.

Marvin, president of Downtown Development Group, and Mayor Doug Franklin were featured speakers at the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments’ quarterly general policy board meeting Monday at the Raymond John Wean Foundation.

Marvin’s company purchased several downtown buildings – including the Mahoning Building and Atrium Building — and is repurposing them for commercial and residential use. But once that work is completed, he is “seriously” looking at the Peninsula, a block just west of the downtown square.

“Right now it’s very preliminary. We have a lot of discussion to go through with the city of Warren,” Marvin said. “There are some drawbacks to the Peninsula, things that need to be cleaned up and done to make it more attractive for us from an investment standpoint.”

Among the possibilities, he says, are a shopping center, a supermarket and condominiums along the Mahoning River.

“It has great potential on both sides of the street because of the river and the way it winds around. It offers great potential to take advantage of that riverfront,” he said. A focus on the Peninsula likely wouldn’t get underway until late 2017, once work is completed on Marvin’s Courthouse Square properties.

Marvin said he plans to spend $3 million overall on the seven properties he has purchased so far. That includes $886,000 to date for acquisition and $300,000 so far on renovation.

He said he capitalized on opportunities when the properties came available, such as deaths or business owners deciding to close their stores. “I hope nobody thinks we’re a predator,” he remarked.

In June, the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber moved into its newly renovated space on the fourth floor of the Mahoning Building and the fifth, sixth and seventh floors have been “completely demolished” for conversion into condominiums and a penthouse suite.

“All of these will progress at the same time,” he said. The goal is to have those properties ready for occupancy by the end of January.

Other buildings Marvin’s company purchased include the neighboring buildings at 187 W. Market, which houses the Lime Tree Sandwich Gallery, and 193 W. Market, where Data Voice Systems Review Inc. is located.

One reason his company purchased all three buildings was to resolve easements –an issue common in downtown, he said.

“With this particular grouping of buildings, the only way to access floors two and three on both 187 and 193 [West Market] was to go up the elevator in 197 and then cut across,” he said. “So if we didn’t combine all three of these together and somebody else purchased 197, we’d have to ask for an easement. If they didn’t give it to us, the second and third floor would basically be vacant for a very long period of time.”

Marvin said he’s working on resolving a similar easement issue at 124 N. Park Ave., where the Sew Cute! Sewing shop operates and where he envisions a pub-style restaurant and condos.

He reported his company is “very close” to bringing his downtown properties to 100% occupancy. A coffee shop will soon open in the space once occupied by Gene’s Jewelers at 112 N. Park.

Franklin thanked Marvin for his commitment to investing in Warren. “Mark’s really committed and he’s put his money where his mouth is,” he remarked. “We do share a lot of the same visions.”

The mayor said one of the goals of his administration is to be able to respond quickly to the needs of business. “I think we’ve been able to do that,” he said.

The city has been “fantastic” to work with, Marvin said. “They turn our drawings around very quickly so we’re right on schedule,” he said. “We’re where we wanted to be, maybe a little bit ahead of schedule.”

Beyond Warren, Marvin said he is looking at projects in Youngstown and Cleveland.

“Obviously, with the great things that have been done in Youngstown, they have a real positive mood right now,” he remarked. “We’re going to start talking to some people to see if we can be involved.”

Marvin has made offers on properties in downtown Cleveland but those proposals weren’t successful. The buildings remain available but “with everything there’s negotiations that have to take place,” he remarked.

A focus on downtown Youngstown likely would not come about until after development of the downtown Warren and Peninsula properties, he said.

“I would say more than likely we won’t look at what’s available until sometime beginning of 2018,” he continues, “unless something presents a great opportunity for us that we need to jump on right now. Then we’ll move and we’ll do it. It just depends on how the market dictates that to us.”

Pictured: The Mahoning Building in downtown Warren, which is being renovated by Mark Marvin’s company.

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