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Real Estate Brokers See Market Heating Up

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Commercial real estate brokers in the Mahoning Valley are encouraged by activity picking up across the board.

In the retail sector, the prime areas for activity remain near U.S. routes 224 and 422, although things are looking good elsewhere too.

“Those are your A locations. But there are B and C locations that we have good activity in, whether it’s in Columbiana or Calcutta or Struthers,” says Bill Kutlick, owner of Kutlick Realty, Boardman. “Struthers is a good stable market. It doesn’t compare to the 224 corridor but there is good activity. It may not be the same rental rate but it’s in relation to the market. We’re getting some activity in those types of B and C locations.”

Kutlick and other commercial real estate brokers see an increase in outparcel transactions, although national chains are doing much of that activity.

On Elm Road in Warren near state Route 82, a property Kutlick brokered is the future home of a Chipotle and Starbucks while a property near Tiffany Square in Boardman will house a Panera Bread.

At Northwood Realty, broker John Horvath has a one-acre outparcel available at Addison Reserve Plaza at the intersection of Route 46 and Shields Road in Canfield. The property is listed for $325,000.

“We’re seeing interest in outparcels as well. A lot of chains don’t want to be in plazas. They want to have their own buildings,” Horvath says.

Adds Kutlick, “In-lines are still active, but tenants like Starbucks and Chipotle are leading the development activity. … It’s not that tenants are moving out of the centers, but that [outparcels] are a little more predominant and the activity is out there.”

Other developments are also faring well, says Jim Grantz, broker and associate with Edward J. Lewis Inc., Youngstown. Development land, industrial space and commercial properties are seeing a boost, he says.

“What’s encouraging is that land had been somewhat dormant for a while. Now [with] inquiries for land and contracts for land, there are a lot more coming in. That’s a good sign for us because it indicates new construction,” he says.

Brightening the already sunny forecast is that transactions aren’t predominantly in one sector, Grantz adds.

“It’s all over the place, which is exciting. We’re having good activity with vacant land that we’ve been working on for a long time,” he says. “Things that had been on the market for quite a while are disappearing, which is a terrific thing, and not cheap.”

In November, the 23,688-square-foot building at 8324 South Ave. was sold for $1.95 million and in January, an out-of-town buyer paid $450,000 for 900 Sahara Trail, both in Boardman.

When it comes to office space, Grantz notes that many more are looking at smaller spaces than years past. He points to the Boardman Medical Pavilion next door to St. Elizabeth Hospital Boardman. The building’s first and third floors are available with a base lease price of $17 per square foot.

“That’s 20,000 square feet [on the third floor]. I do have activity from single users but I also have activity that requires that to be chopped up. The larger spaces are a tougher go, no question about it,” he says.

“You don’t see a lot office deals over 5,000 feet. Most are under that mark.”

Outside of the 224 and 422 corridors, Routh-Hurlbert’s Dan Crouse notes that downtown Warren is also doing well, with just one unsold property on Courthouse Square: Chase Tower. The nine-story building, constructed in 1927, is listed at $550,000.

“The hottest market we’re seeing out downtown Warren. Rooftops drive commercial and they’re building rooftops down there,” Crouse says. “There are more than 50 families living on Courthouse Square.”

Meantime there are properties open just off the central square, which Crouse says should fill up as the ripple of activity spreads.

“There’s open space in the building the Horse Shoe Bar is in. There’s open stuff on Pine, on South Main, on South Park,” he says. “It’s just off the square but things grow organically like a ripple on the pond and that’s what is happening.”

In the industrial sector, Crouse says he’s heard from companies looking for new space, primarily in the range of 10,000 to 20,000 square feet, although inventory remains tight.

“Continually, the biggest unmet market, bar none, is the 10,000- to 20,000-square-foot modern industrial building. A steel building, insulated on three acres of land, is very much in demand,” he says. “Everywhere, we’re seeing business with every intention of growing and every ability to grow.”

Routh-Hurlbert recently listed an 80-acre site at Bailey and Silica roads in North Jackson tucked between interstates 80 and 76. About half the site is ready for construction. It’s listed at $2 million.

“There are some challenges with topography to get sewer out to the rest of it, but it’s a great spot for distribution,” Crouse says.

He’s talked to a half-dozen companies looking for sites in the area so they can take advantage of the area’s location as a transportation center, with proximity to the Ohio and Pennsylvania turnpikes and other heavily traveled highways.

Pictured at top: Chase Tower is the only unsold property on Warren’s Courthouse Square, says Routh-Hurlbert’s Dan Crouse.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.