Economic Development

Warren CIC Awaits RG Steel Building’s Tax Status

WARREN, Ohio – The Community Improvement Corporation of Warren and Trumbull County is still waiting for a decision from the state of Ohio on its application for tax-exempt status for the former RG Steel building.

The review covers the 2015, 2016 and 2017 tax years, as well as this year. If the application for tax-exempt status is denied, the CIC would be responsible for approximately $120,000 in accrued taxes for the property.

The CIC held its annual meeting Thursday at the RG Steel building, which it acquired earlier this year.

“We were getting some very strong favorable vibes, and the review with the supervisor caused another question,” said Tom Humphries, who manages the CIC under its contract with the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. “But it seems like we’re near the last question.”

Angela Neely, part of the CIC’s management team under its contract with the chamber, informed the board that Tuesday she emailed the person in the Ohio Department of Taxation responsible for reviewing the application for an update.

In response, he requested information regarding a grant the department believed was awarded to the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center, which held the building previously, Neely reported.

After checking with TBEIC chief operating officer Rick Stockburger and board chairman John Pogue, she learned that TBEIC was never part of the grant in question and reported that to the state taxation official, she said. On Wednesday the tax official said his supervisor gave him additional comments and was going to respond to them as soon as possible so the review could be completed.

“So we’re still waiting. I don’t know anything else to tell you [as to] why it’s taking so long,” Neely said.

In late 2014, BDM Steel Holdings, which acquired the assets of the former RG Steel, donated the 57,000-square-foot office building on the property to TBEIC. TBEIC in turn leased the property to the CIC, which has operated, leased and marketed the property. The CIC is leasing a portion of the building back to BDM for $25,000 annually.

At its meeting in March, the CIC announced it would explore options for the building over the next six months, including a direct sale or auction of the building or partnering on the property with the Western Reserve Port Authority.

To date, the Pine Avenue building has generated few inquiries. The Trumbull County Educational Service Center had expressed interest in the building but its existing lease isn’t up for another eight years, said board member Chuck Joseph, a commercial/industrial real estate broker with Routh-Hurlbert Real Estate.

Humphries reported he connected an interested party from California with Joseph.

“They were supposed to be in town in April and they didn’t get here,” Humphries said. “They’ve been in our market before so they know the market.”

The CIC reduced the asking price of the property from $1.1 million to $750,000.

The board approved iofficers at the meeting. They are Phil O’Hara, senior director with HBK, chairman; Kevin Reilly, executive vice president of Builders’ Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, vice chairman; Stan Feret, chief lending officer and senior vice president with Cortland Bank, treasurer; and James Dignan, president/CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, secretary.

Dignan’s role with the CIC will increase as Humphries, his predecessor at the chamber, transitions out. “It’s open-ended but our target is the end of the year,” Humphries said.

In addition, the board approved establishing an executive committee and the creation of a vice-chairman position to be filled by a representative of a public-sector entity. By the next meeting or the one following that, Humphries said, he hopes to have a draft of the powers the board is delegating to the executive committee.

Pictured: The RG Steel building in Warren. 

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.