WRPA Brings $52 Million In Investment to Region

By Sarah Lown, Public finance manager, WRPA
New development projects, property management prospects and management opportunities made for an active 2017 for the Western Reserve Port Authority, a trend that is likely to accelerate in 2018.

The year brought three major developments, three property management prospects, two management projects and many new partnerships. Additionally, the agency’s development and finance division opened an office in Warren to increase its regional presence. All these activities brought more than $52 million in new investment and economic
promise to transform the local landscape.

The port authority helped finance three major projects that located in the heart of downtown Youngstown.

The Enclave – a retail and student housing project on the corner of Wick and Lincoln avenues just off the Youngstown State University campus – is under construction.

Second, the University Edge student housing complex opened its second phase with the development of a Barnes & Noble bookstore. The lower corridor of Fifth Avenue near YSU is adorned with new housing, retail and landscaping, making the campus even more attractive for student life.

And third, work nears completion on the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel project in the Stambaugh Building, which promises to become an enduring Youngstown landmark. The port authority, the city, the state of Ohio and private investors came together to create a unique financing stack that preserves the historic character of the building while keeping costs competitive. The port authority provided $11.5 million in bond financing for the project.

The hotel’s unique offering of large gathering space, restaurant and retail amenities make it special to the city, the university and the Mahoning Valley. Many more business, academic and recreational events can now happen in our region because of the Stambaugh project.

The port authority added property management to its financing, agency management, and public incentive services. Our Northeast Ohio Development Finance Authority brought a professional engineer on board to facilitate public-private investment in real estate and infrastructure.

Already, this has resulted in a cooperative agreement for the purchase and transfer of under used property in Warren to the port authority. Ultimately, the property will be offered to private investors for new development. Port authorities possess powers to make such transactions seamless and cost-effective.

Further, the Castlo Community Improvement Corp. is in the second year of port authority management. In December, Aqua Ohio opened its new regional headquarters at the Castlo Industrial Park. With Aqua, IPS, Penn Ohio, Flying J and other tenants, the industrial park is stabilized and poised for more growth.

The Board of Mahoning County Commissioners conferred management of the Mahoning County Community Improvement Corp. to the port authority’s development and finance division.This lead enabled financing for the Canfield water tower in partnership with the county and Aqua Ohio.

In addition to economic development, the port authority manages projects that promote partnerships and community engagement. For example, the International Economic Development Council honored the Mahoning River Corridor Mayors’ Association with a silver award for cross-border collaboration, recognizing the group’s advocacy efforts.

The Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority, WRPA’s economic development arm, sponsored three events that draw more than 215 economic development professionals and businessmen from the Valley.

The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport hosted destination flights offered by Allegiant until the end of December.

With a refurbished terminal, new runway maintenance equipment, an improved airfield taxiway and plans to improve lighting, signage and the main runway, the airport is as competitive a place as any to offer daily, destination, charter and private flights.

Editor’s Note: This story was submitted for publication in The Business Journal’s Growth Report 2018. The 144-page edition features growth reports from more than 200 local businesses and organizations. It was published this week. If you are not a subscriber, CLICK HERE to purchase a copy or call Eileen Lovell at 330 744 5023 Ext. 1008.

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