Port Authority Focuses on 4th Ward Projects

WARREN, Ohio — The Western Reserve Port Authority will use $200,000 from the city of Youngstown to manage and execute projects in its 4th Ward and plans to spend an additional $439,000 to rehabilitate a Mahoning Avenue building in the ward.

Resolutions authorizing the acceptance of the grant from the city and approving a contract for capital upgrades to the former Clark Bar property, 3143 Mahoning Ave., were among several items that port authority directors acted on during their regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday morning.

The port authority will use the $200,000 grant, which will be on the agenda of Youngstown’s board of control Thursday, for property acquisition, site remediation and dealing with greenspace, Anthony Trevena, WRPA’s executive director, said. The funds are coming from the city’s $82.7 million American Rescue Plan allocation.  

Declan Construction, Brookfield Township, will perform the work on the 3143 Mahoning building to get it to what Randy Partika, WRPA project manager and development engineer, described as a “vanilla box state.” The port authority acquired the building earlier this year.

Work on the property will include upgrades to the electrical and mechanical systems, redoing most of flooring on the first and second floors and the walls and ceiling of the first floor, removal of an overhang on the rear of the building and replacing the façade, Partika said.

“We have several interested parties that are successful business owners along that corridor who are interested in potentially acquiring this property,” Trevena said. “We want to make sure this one ends up in the right hands.”

Last year, the port authority approved the sale of two other Mahoning Avenue buildings it had acquired to Voyager Specialty Coffee & Teas in Canfield, which is renovating the properties as a manufacturing site and a coffee house.

Mike Ray, Youngstown 4th Ward Councilman, told the board he has attempted to draw attention to the need to upgrade Mahoning Avenue for years and praised WRPA as “a great partner.” Since becoming 4th Ward councilman, more than $10 million has been invested in the corridor, including by St. John Lutheran Church, the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County and Westside Bowl.

Trevena said he hoped other Youngstown council members would consider letting the port authority “be a steward of their assets so that we can do this further.”

The board also approved awarding a professional services contract worth $320,000 with Illinois-based Crawford, Murphy & Tilly Inc. to conduct a planning study and development analysis for Youngstown/Warren Regional Airport, which the port authority operates. Funds are coming from an Economic Development Administration grant.

The focus of CMT’s work is to “expand the aviation economy of our area,” said Sarah Lown, WRPA public finance manager. The study will include inventorying and mapping the airport land, determining what shovel-ready sites are available, and “exploring the whole universe of aerospace aviation,” from drones to passenger service,” as well as potentially incorporating opportunities from additive and advanced manufacturing, she said.

“We get the help of a team of experts who are in the industry who can help us grow the assets we already have in place,” she said. 

The board approved accepting another grant for $49,970 from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization – or Power – initiative for an engineering/design study for broadband implementation in Trumbull County.

The study will analyze the proposed connection of a fiber-optic loop to “provide high-speed broadband services” to businesses in historically underserved communities, said Nick Chretien, WRPA planning and regional development manager. It primarily will focus on industrial corridors as well as the former BDM Steel property.

The cities of Warren and Niles and Weathersfield, and Howland Township will provide the $30,000 match, Chretien said.

In other business, the port authority board the sale of one piece of property and the purchase of another.

It sold the approximately 17 acres of property adjacent to the former Kmart distribution center in Bazetta Township to Industrial Commercial Properties LLC, which also owns the former Kmart property, for $112,500.

The board also approved buying an outparcel and building on the site of the former McGuffey Plaza on Youngstown’s east side from Rockbrook Business Services LLC., Youngstown, for $47,750. The port authority had approved acquiring the rest of the McGuffey property in March.

A Phase II environmental study is being completed at the former retail property, which Trevena said would be attractive for light manufacturing, distribution or fullfillment operations because of its freeway access.

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