Our Towns

‘Millennial Moments’ Would Invest $100M in Canfield

CANFIELD, Ohio — If Canfield city and township officials approve the proposed Millennial Moments joint economic development district agreement in August, development of the huge mixed-use project could begin as early as next spring.

That’s the word from Frank Amedia, owner of FJA Developers Inc., the project’s developer. Starting with infrastructure, such as soil preparation, Amedia says the $100 million-plus project would be fully realized in five- to six years.

The vision, he says, is a luxury lifestyle center on 111 acres at the intersection of U.S. Route 224 and South Palmyra Road that blends retail and commercial space with residential.

According to the site plan, nearly 35,000 square feet of retail space would face 224 with more than 10 acres for future development. Behind that would be an extensive multi-generational residential area with two-story four-plex townhouses, two-story lakefront townhouses, single-family villas and 51 custom home lots.

Residential amenities would include a natural lake, 580-foot preserved stream, swim pond, 3,500-square-foot clubhouse, a 120-unit community living center and walking trails. Amedia envisions Millennial Moments becoming a place where older residents can live in the same community as their children and grandchildren, he says.

This is the “Millennial Moments” site plan presented by FJA Developers Inc.

“They could visit each other by getting in a golf cart, riding a bike or walking,” Amedia says. “I think this is unique in that we’re considering all of the multi-generational possibilities in the community.”

The retail section would be equally accessible, he says. The concept is what Amedia calls “contemporary Canfield,” which blends the city and township’s heritage with state-of-the-art architecture.

Amedia and his wife, Lorilee, are both from the area. As a young man, Amedia apprenticed with his grandfather, a stone mason by trade. Amedia worked a number of construction and maintenance jobs until the early 2000s, when he and his wife moved to south Florida.

While there, Amedia was involved in several development projects, including two large retail centers, two 22-story high rises, multiple mid-rise condominium projects and waterfront residential properties in Miami.

As co-founders of the Touch Heaven Ministries – which began in 2012 and has a church on Skyline Drive – Amedia says the ministry was their connection to their home. After trying to run the company in Florida and tend to their ministry back home, even traveling back and forth each week, the Amedias relocated to Canfield six years ago.

“Our call back to this area was spiritual. This is our home,” Amedia says. “I personally think it’s one of the best kept secrets in the nation.”

When Amedia saw that 111 acres were available for development, “I got the itch,” he says.

While he didn’t start the project with a JEDD in mind, he says it’s a good concept. The joint school and fire districts “come out as winners” because of the incremental tax that goes to them, the city collects its 1% income tax and the township collects property tax.

“And the community overall comes out with a big boost for development, construction, real estate and home buying,” Amedia says.

Canfield Mayor Richard Duffett says he’s interested to see how the final agreement comes out.

JEDD discussions started with his predecessor, former mayor Bernie Kosar Sr., and include an annexation to the city of the 300-acre Red Gate property along Leffingwell Road, which the city owns but couldn’t develop because it sits in the township. City Manager Wade Calhoun and the city’s attorney, Mark Fortunato, have negotiated with township officials to ensure the agreement is “in the best interest of city residents,” Duffett says. A final agreement should be available to review soon, he says.

“There were some details that needed to be worked out from our perspective, and they were things that needed to be negotiated between the two bodies,” Duffett says. “I am anxious to see the results of that.”

The JEDD came about after the city attempted to annex the property in 2017, says Marie Izzo Cartwright, the township trustee who’s been a part of the negotiations. Township officials asked Mahoning County Commissioners not to annex the property “unless we first abided by a judgment order that we have from 2003,” which states that anytime the city plans to annex property it must first discuss the possibility of a JEDD or other agreement with the township.

“We have gone through multiple steps, because we abide by Ohio Revised Code. ORC tells us what we’re supposed to do and we are following those guidelines,” Cartwright says. “It’s a very long process.”

Per the agreement, the city will provide water, sewer and stormwater services, while township police will patrol the area.

In 2001, Amedia testified with immunity regarding his involvement in an odometer-rollback case from 1994 that involved the former Mahoning County prosecutor, the late James A. Philomena, Russell “Champ” Saadey Jr., who was an investigator for Philomena at the time, and Saadey’s uncle, Anthony Saadey. It’s not something he dwells on, nor has the case been an issue during negotiations for the JEDD, he says.

“Everybody who knows about that knows I was a victim, along with other people,” Amedia says. “My life’s been an open book and what we’ve been able to accomplish speaks for itself.”

Duffett concurs, saying that while news of the old case was concerning, it hasn’t changed his perception of Amedia or the project.

“I know that people make mistakes and people can move forward. [Amedia’s] plan looks good to me,” Duffett says. “He’s a gentleman, he’s bought the property and he has a plan. If this JEDD moves forward, then that will be a good thing for the community.”

Pictured at top: The site consists of the former Lanterman farm. The “luxury lifestyle center” would sit on 111 acres off South Palmyra Road.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.