WRPA Financing Advances Hotel, YSU Housing Projects

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Construction should get under way in July on the project to convert the Stambaugh Building into a downtown hotel, a project assisted by the Western Reserve Port Authority.

The project’s developer, NYO Property Group, has secured a senior lender, Sarah Lown, public finance manager for the Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority, reported to WRPA board members Wednesday.

The Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority is the newly rebranded economic development arm of the port authority.

Last month the board approved a capital lease deal with NYO, and agreed to issue property-assessed clean energy – or PACE – bonds to finance energy efficiency improvements to the building, which NYO officials announced in 2014 it planned to convert into a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel.

“They’ve got everything they need in the capital stack, which means now they can close with the historic tax credits and so forth,” Lown said. “They hope to be breaking ground in July.”

The project received state and federal historic preservation tax credits, which must now be sold as the financing package is finalized, she explained.

Youngstown City Council also must approve creation of an energy special-improvement district for the PACE bonds.

Lown said Christopher Alan, founder and CEO of Auto Parkit LLC, has submitted financial information to JobsOhio, the state’s economic development arm. Alan, a Warren native, has proposed a project that would turn the former Delphi Packard buildings on Dana Street in Warren into a headquarters and plant for his company.

JobsOhio already has agreed to reimburse the port authority for Phase I and Phase II environmental assessments at the site, and the port authority and Alan are seeking help for remediation costs, she said.

Lown also reported that the University Edge student housing project near Youngstown State University, for which the port authority provided bond financing, is nearing completion and has a tenant waiting list.

“We’re also in conversation with University Enclave,” a 162-bed housing project with retail proposed near the university,” she said. “Because we know the student housing market seems to be almost unlimited right now, we feel pretty confident this project will go forward.”

During the meeting, George Farris, CEO of Farris Marketing, Boardman, walked the port authority board members through the new website for the development and finance authority. The port authority contracted with Farris Marketing to rebrand the economic development division and create the new website.

The website outlines services the economic development division offers, showcases past and current projects, and provides contact information and links to other community resources. “It’s pretty comprehensive but it’s easy to read,” Farris said.

Board members also discussed the prospect of activity at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport because of this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The Vienna Township airport, which the port authority operates, is one of two gateway airports where aircraft flying into Cleveland will be required to land first for screenings.

The airport will realize additional revenue from landing fees, as well as from fuel sold or maintenance provided by Winner Aviation, the airport’s fixed-base operator, said Dan Dickten, director of aviation. RNC officials have projected 50 to 70 additional aircraft will be flying into the regional airport for the event, he reported.

“We don’t have any idea how many people are going to stay in this area and go to the convention, which helps the area in general,” noted John Moliterno, WRPA’s executive director.

The large number of corporate jets that will be exposed to the airport “will be worth something as well,” Ron Klingle, board chairman, said.

Moliterno also noted recent media attention being given to long lines for Transportation Security Agency screenings in cities such as Chicago. “All that does is allow further talk about our airport” and the ease of getting through lines here, he said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.