HomeGoods Division distribution center

TJX Eases Some Concerns, Gathers Feedback from Residents

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – After last week’s raucous meeting with representatives from TJX Companies Inc., residents near the proposed site of a $160-million HomeGoods Division distribution center met with them again, this time with more amicable results.

“They were much more personable. They answered every question we had,” said Cuba Adams, who attended one of two meetings with TJX executives Tuesday evening. “I was here last week and it bothered me that they didn’t want to answer everyone’s questions all in one group. But they were nice enough to come back.”

Adams’ home, she said, is on one of the front lots on Imperial Drive that runs parallel to Ellsworth Bailey Road. The TJX site would be directly across the street from her home.

“They did ease some of my issues. They’re putting in a lot of trees and embankments, trying to make sure it’s covered,” she continued. “They say it’s a fantastic-looking building. My issue was that there were other commercially zoned areas they could have put it in.”

The first meeting last night, which Adams and about 15 others took part in, was for residents of the Imperial mobile home park, while the latter was for those living on other properties adjacent to the site.

Sarah Boyarko, vice president of economic development for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said officials were expecting a total of about 75 people to attend the meeting. The chamber rented the administration building for the evening so the private meeting could be held.

“It’s a no-brainer to me. They [residents] all want their white picket fences and slag roads,” said Ted Radtka, whose family owns the some of the land TJX would be building on.

“It took 60 years for businesses to look at Lordstown,” Radtka continued, saying that when he grew up in the village, the town mainly had the B&O rail line and a few trucks coming through from the steel industry in neighboring communities. General Motors, he noted, arrived in the 60s, which brought supporting businesses. Most recently, the Lordstown Energy Center began construction in 2016.

Meeting with residents were Joe Dubord, HomeGoods’ vice president of distribution, and Mark Walker, vice president of real estate, as well as director of corporate communications Erika Tower. The meetings were invitation-only and reporters were not allowed in. The discussion could not be heard from the lobby of the Lordstown Administration Building, laughter broke through a few times.

Information from the sessions will be used to improve plans that will be presented to the village of Lordstown’s planning commission March 26. Earlier on Tuesday, Boyarko said TJX had already some adjustments to the plan presented at a town hall March 12.

“We have some ideas. Nothing is set in stone. We’ll talk about those tonight to make sure they’re the type of things that might help address some of the concerns,” Tower said. “We want to listen, too. We want to hear what people have to say and make sure that we’re not just making changes to make changes.”

TJX’s plan, Tower said, is to have the site operational by 2020, ‘but obviously we have to work through the process.” The site is expected to employ up to 1,000, including 150 front-office jobs.

The decision to invite only residents nearest the proposed site – invitations were mailed last week – was made to allow TJX to focus on the concerns of those who be most directly affected by the project, Tower said.

“We really wanted to hone in on those types of concerns. They’re the ones with the biggest impact right now,” she said. “The meeting on Monday is the planning board meeting about the site itself, so our top concern is thinking about what those changes might be. Addressing their needs is critical.”

After last week’s general meeting and the response from the community, other municipalities, including Warren, said they would be open to having TJX build there.

“We appreciate that, but we’re optimistic about this property and excited about the project,” Tower said. “We’re here to continue working on this one.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.