WRPA OKs Deal for Dunkin Donuts at Bank Site

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A Dunkin Donuts restaurant could be operating on the site of the former First Federal bank building during the first half of 2021.

The board of directors of the Western Reserve Port Authority, which owns the building at 3900 Market St., voted at its monthly meeting Wednesday to enter into a lease agreement with local Dunkin Donuts franchisee BK Coffee Inc. and to negotiate financing for redevelopment of the site.

TCF Bank, which owned the boat-themed building, announced last year it would donate the property to the port authority for economic development purposes. The port authority officially accepted the keys to the property yesterday.

Numerous vehicles pass through the Market Street-Midlothian Boulevard intersection every day, said Caleb Watters, vice president of operations for BK Coffee, Canfield, which operates 11 Dunkin Donuts restaurants in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

“We needed to find a location that could service a good drive-thru and people in the restaurant,” he said. “It’s a Grade A site for traffic and residential.”

Construction of the 2,200-square-foot restaurant is the second of three phases of the site’s redevelopment, which began with installation of a PNC Bank automated teller machine, said Anthony Trevena, the port authority’s economic development director. Construction bids for the building should go out next week.

“We want to open bids no later than Oct. 16,” Trevena said. A site plan review meeting in Boardman is scheduled for later today.

“We’re very excited about the project in general. This is going to be a phenomenal project for the township and the area,” said Krista Beniston, Boardman Township director of zoning and development.

“They want to get the footers in before winter,” said Randy Partika, port authority project manager and development engineer. The port authority is now doing asbestos abatement in the building, which should take about two weeks, and demolition will take four weeks, he said.

The restaurant will be the latest Dunkin Donuts store model, with ordering kiosks, up-front doughnut displays and a focus on mobile ordering via drive-thru or walk-in traffic, Watters said.

Business has “come back strong” since state mandated shutdowns to combat the coronavirus were eased and people want the convenience of a “drive-thru, low-touch, safe way” to get coffee and breakfast, he said. Initial employment will be 40 positions, but that could increase seasonally.

“We’re encouraged by what we’re seeing,” he said. “It goes right to the point of why we want to open another one.”

The port authority also will develop a 1,200-square-foot box on the site and is seeking potential tenants for that site, Trevena said. The location would be good for a carry-out and delivery pizza shop, which the immediate area doesn’t have, but the port authority would consider all options for the property.

The port authority explored restoring the building rather than demolishing it but the structure needed more than $1 million in renovations, which would have been “pretty much impossible,” Trevena said.

A Youngstown Kitchens set in the building was donated to the Trumbull County Historical Society for installation in its new education building in Warren, a project the port authority facilitated. Youngstown Kitchens started in Warren, Trevena noted.

Also during the meeting, the port authority board approved purchasing an Austintown building and selling it to Mahoning County, and awarding contracts for the Mahoning Valley Campus of Care.

The port authority was the successful bidder at an auction for 50 Westchester Place, which houses the Mahoning County District Board of Health, the county building inspection department and other county offices.

The building’s owner chose to sell it at auction and government rules prevented the county from being a bidder, so the port authority was enlisted to bid on it, said Sarah Lown, the port authority’s public finance manager.

The port authority board authorized paying $1,115,400 plus costs for the building, and selling the building to the county for the same price.

Now money that the county would have paid in rent will go into public health programming, Lown said.

The board approved a $111,422 contract with Anchor Plumbing & Drain Service, Canfield, for plumbing upgrades at the Campus of Care property, and a $429,000 contract with Declan Construction, Brookfield, for upgrades to the campus’ central training building.

“We’ll hold and manage it for three years,” she said. An Oct. 2 ribbon cutting is planned for the Mineral Ridge campus.

Additionally, Trevena updated board members on two properties the port authority acquired on Mahoning Avenue in Youngstown earlier this year.

Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. cleaned out 1588 Mahoning Ave. The 1586 Mahoning Building is “a little more complicated,” with significant problems that need to be addressed, Trevena said.

“We’re talking to several different parties” about both properties, he said.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.