Landino Proposes Housing-Athletics Center Near Penn State Shenango

SHARON, Pa. – The prospective developer of a proposed student housing and multipurpose event center near Penn State University Shenango predicts the site would be transformative for the campus and the downtown Sharon area.

JCL Development wants to repurpose the 48,000-square-foot building it owns at 297 Shenango Ave., across from the Penn State Shenango campus, as The Flats Center. The building proposed by owner Jim Landino is a mixed-use facility that would provide affordable apartments and an athletic event center to serve Penn State Shenango.   

“The domino effect of this project is the largest we have approached since beginning our revitalization process in 2013. It would trip the trigger for so much more to come along with more campus adjacent student housing,” he said.

“The campus is adding more and more sports programs which will raise the enrollment,” he continued. “We feel the campus is a hidden gem within blocks of an ever-evolving downtown Sharon environment that we have been working to improve, revitalize and transform for many years.”

The building now houses two other Landino-owned companies: Spray Formations and JCL Energy. The businesses would relocate to accommodate the project, he said. 

Last week, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-7 Mercer, reported that JCL Development received tax credit funding of $400,000 to support the redevelopment project. While Penn State Shenango has traditionally been a commuter campus, its recently established athletic teams have helped attract more students from outside the area. 

“Downtown Sharon is seeing seeds of renewal, thanks to a dedicated redevelopment plan and the development of new retail and dining opportunities in the corridor,” Longietti said. “A new student housing and event center for Penn State’s Shenango campus would build on that trend by bringing students, staff and visitors – a natural consumer base – to a campus that has been a community anchor for more than 50 years.”

The proposal shows a new gymnasium, locker rooms and a common area, as well as up to 10 student apartments. 

“The gym could and would be used for a variety of events that we hope will bring more and more daytime and overnight visitors to downtown Sharon thus helping to attract more retail and restaurant interest,” Landino said.

According to Longietti, JCL would rent apartments directly to Penn State students, while leasing the athletic portion to the university. Currently, the Penn State Shenango teams – men’s basketball and women’s basketball and volleyball – play at Buhl Recreation Center.

Landino, who has purchased and redeveloped several downtown Sharon buildings in recent years, said the scope of his proposed project is large, likely in the range of $5 million to $6 million. 

The project could receive additional financing from a combination of private investments and state funding, Longietti said. Landino applied for $2.5 million in grant funding from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. 

“If awarded this project would commence very quickly with the help of a truly first-rate development partner that has signed on board with us,” Landino said.  

Pictured: Developer Jim Landino has proposed converting the building at 297 Shenango Ave. to an apartment complex and athletic center to serve Penn State Shenango.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.