Port Authority Anticipates Closing on Harshman Building Next Week

WRPA to Spend Up to $675K to Purchase, Renovate Harshman Building

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority is in the process of buying a downtown building, selling another near the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, and moving toward arbitration with the passenger carrier that pulled out of airport a year ago.

This morning, the port authority authorized its executive director to send a letter of intent purchase and make improvements to the Harshman Building at 101 E. Boardman St. downtown. The cost of financing the purchase was capped at $675,000.

The port authority hopes to have the purchase completed over the next month, said Anthony Trevena, director of economic development for the Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority, the port authority’s economic development arm.

“It’s a great opportunity. We’re really excited about it,” John Moliterno, executive director of the port authority, added.

The Harshman Building, at just under 14,000 square feet, is owned by NYO Property Group, the developer of the DoubleTree hotel at the landmark Stambaugh Building downtown.

The port authority’s economic development office would occupy about 3,000 square feet of the building and has an anchor tenant it is in discussions with to take another 8,000 square feet, Trevena said.

“We saw an opportunity,” Trevena said. “We heard about an anchor tenant that wanted to come to the community and didn’t necessarily want to buy the building, but is willing to lease the building.”

He would not provide further details about the tenant other than to say it would be providing a service, but said he expected the purchase to be completed in the next 30 days.

“This is going to be fast,” he said. “It’s really exciting to be part of putting a historic building back into productive use.”

The port authority board also approved authorizing its executive director to enter into an agreement to sell the former air cargo building for $1.2 million.

The port authority has been in discussion for the past four months with an entity that has expressed interest in it and arrived at “a proper asking price” slightly above the building’s appraised value, Moliterno said. The sale is not final but this is “a big step” from the port authority’s standpoint, he said.

“We have the normal due diligence that we have to go through but we have a very willing partner in this that I think will be very much a positive, not just for the airport and the port authority but for the Vienna community,” he said. 

The proposed end user is not in the aviation industry but the Federal Aviation Administration, which has to sign off on anything that happens on the airport property, is “comfortable with the situation,” he also said. The building is fenced off from the adjacent aviation apron installed by FAA, which is not part of the building acquisition.

The port authority still owns land north and south of the apron, where it can develop buildings.

In addition, the port authority authorized paying legal counsel $300 per hour up to $2,500 per day to represent it at an arbitration hearing scheduled for Oct. 11 with representatives of Aerodynamics Inc., which ceased operations at the airport last summer. Mediation was recommended by the court, Moliterno said.

“We certainly hope that the mediator can find a common ground and we can settle the case in October,” Moliterno said. “This has been a long, drawn-out process.” 

Editor’s Note: Due to an editing error, the original headline on this story has been corrected . The port authority is authorized to spend up to $675,000 to acquire and renovate the Harshman Building.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.