McGuffey Mall Youngstown

Port Authority to Acquire Former McGuffey Mall Property

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Anthony Trevena is confident in prospects for the approximately 20-acre site where the former McGuffey Mall once stood.

The Western Reserve Port Authority’s board of directors approved purchasing the Youngstown property from D&E Holdings LLC, Canfield for $162,250 plus closing costs, contingent upon due diligence and legal counsel approval. The deal was one of two site acquisitions that the board approved Wednesday during its monthly meeting, which was held at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

“We work with the city on future development opportunities and we’ve known this property was desirable for future development,” said Trevena, who conducted his first WRPA board meeting as the port authority executive director. “When we heard it was for sale, we were definitely interested.”

The old McGuffey Plaza, an early project of developer William M. Cafaro, founder of the Cafaro Company, was built in 1954, converted into an indoor shopping center in 1972, and renamed McGuffey Mall. Cafaro sold the property in 2013 and both the McGuffey and Garland Plaza buildings were demolished later that year. 

The port authority is acquiring the site to clean it and “make it look a lot better than it currently does,” Trevena said. “Then we’re going to work through our staff to seek a future developer.”

Although there is no identified end user right now, the site, which has good freeway access nearby, “absolutely” has potential, he added. 

The WRPA board approved acquiring another Youngstown property, the former Clark Bar property at 3143 Mahoning Ave., for $2,000, plus closing costs, from the Mahoning County Land Bank. The deal is contingent on due diligence and legal counsel approval.

The port authority is acquiring the land to put it back into productive use, Trevena said. It is not far from another Mahoning Avenue property that the port authority acquired and cleaned up – the site where Voyager Specialty Coffees and teas is moving.

Nikki Posterli, Youngstown director of community panning and economic development, said she is excited to learn that the port authority was acquiring the two sites.

“As we all know, the plaza [property] has had some challenges over the years and I am confident that they will work with the city to clean up the property and redevelop it for future use,” she said.

In other action, the port authority approved applying for a $50,000 Appalachian Regional Commission planning grant for an engineering/design study to provide service to the former BDM Steel property. The port authority recently took possession of the 1,000-acre site, parts of which are in the cities of Warren and Niles and Howland and Weathersfield townships.  

“The study is to tell us what to do with regard to fiber in that area,” Trevena said. Local match for the grant would be provided by the municipalities, he said.

The port authority should know in about a year whether it will receive the grant, said Kevin Kern, port authority chief financial officer.

The port authority also added two members to its staff, Trevena reported. The hires were Eric Susman as facilities superintendent and Nick Chretien as planning and regional development manager.

Susman, of Brookfield, whose responsibilities include overseeing work at the BDM property,  has had 20 years experience in construction demolition, environmental controls and supervision of brownfield remediation, Trevena said.

“It’s a very technical site,” Trevena said. “We might think, ‘Well, it’s just a big piece of dirt. Well, it’s a very complicated piece of dirt. We still have responsibilities.”

Chretien, who lives in Youngstown, is co-founder and executive director of Economic Action Group, which works with local governments on various economic development initiatives, including reaching out to local businesses to see what kind of assistance they needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chretien will continue to work with EAG, which leases office space from the port authority, Trevena said.

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