Port Authority Advances 4 Development Projects

BOARDMAN, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority is assisting four economic development projects in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, including the proposed Auto Parkit LLC headquarters and plant in Warren.

“We’re not having any trouble keeping busy now,” said Anthony Trevena, WRPA’s director of economic development. The port authority’s economic development division recently was rebranded as the Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority.

The port authority approved accepting $199,478 from the state’s JobsOhio program to perform Phase II environmental assessments on the former Delphi Packard buildings on Dana Street. Christopher Alan, Auto Parkit’s founder and a Warren native, has proposed establishing his company’s headquarters and manufacturing operations in the former Delphi properties and is conducting due diligence on the project.

The port authority would initially pay for the environmental study and be reimbursed with the state funds, Trevena said. The environmental study, which will involve quarterly sampling of the property, will take at least 50 weeks, he said.

“Nobody is going to move in until we get this cleaned up,” he added. “Whoever moves into Delphi, this has to be done.”

Concurrent with the study, the port authority will be retrofitting one of the two buildings so Alan “can get his administrative staff up and running,” said Sarah Lown, senior manager for economic development.

“He’s still in the option phase but he’s kind of ramping it up,” she said. “We’re hoping that Jobs Ohio is going to help him with the abatement/renovation. If we do those in tandem, then he’s in.”

Added Trevena, “He’s spending money. He’s invested significant resources into the due diligence.”

The port authority board also approved moving ahead with preliminary planning for capital lease agreements on three projects in Youngstown: the proposed Doubletree by Hilton hotel in the Stambaugh Building downtown; Marian Commons, a 40-unit property providing permanent supportive housing for individuals with special needs; and the Enclave, a 163-unit student housing complex serving Youngstown State University.

The board actions authorize engaging contractors including bond counsel to begin work, and any agreements would have to come back before the board, Trevena assured board members. “You’re not authorizing anyone to receive any certificates,” he said.

“As you can see, we’ve been very busy these last four months,” John Moliterno, the port authority’s executive director, remarked.

According to NYO Property Group, which is developing the hotel, financing for the project should be in place by summer, Trevena said.

During the meeting, Dan Dickten, director of aviation at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, which the port authority operates, provided an update on the impending official announcement by Aerodynamics Inc. that it will provide service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. An event is planned for Tuesday at the airport to announce the service.

ADI has finalized interline agreements with four major carriers – American, United, Delta and JetBlue, Dickten reported.

Following an executive session, the board voted to authorize WRPA’s attorney, Dan Keating, to finalize a new two-year contract with Dickten.

The proposed 2-year contract offers Dickten a 3% raise, increasing his annual salary to $95,481, Keating said. It ncludes a provision, similar to the contracts for Trevena and Moliterno, which gives either Dickten or the board the ability to vacate the contract with 30 days notice.

“He has done an incredible job at the airport,” Ron Klingle, WRPA board chairman, said, praising both his efforts to bring the upcoming daily service to Chicago and improvements to the airport itself.

Dickten had applied for positions elsewhere in recent months, which was “probably a result of not knowing what the board’s intentions were,” Klingle said.

“I hope that with the board entering into this new agreement that he knows that he is being supported by the port authority.”

Wednesday’s meeting was the first with the port authority board’s newest member, Kathy Dillon Kennedy. Kennedy, a loan officer with the Home Savings and Loan Co., was appointed last week by the Mahoning County Board of Commissioners.

Kennedy replaces John Boccieri, who stepped down last year when he was appointed as state representative.

Kennedy, who has been in banking since 1981 and with Home Savings since 2002, said Wednesday her main interest in the port authority is its economic development role. “They’re doing a great job. I’d like to be a part of that,” she said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.