WRPA in Talks with Developers for More YSU Housing

WARREN, Ohio – More student housing to serve Youngstown State University could be on its way.

Anthony Trevena, economic development director for the Western Reserve Port Authority, said Wednesday that he is in contact with developers who are interested in providing more student housing at YSU. 

The port authority’s board of directors at its board meeting Wednesday approved issuing a revenue bond of up to $10 million to Hallmark Student Housing Youngstown LLC to support the third phase of housing at its University Edge project on Fifth Avenue. Earth work is being completed at the project site, with a scheduled August 2020 completion date for the 163-bed apartment building. 

Already under construction is Campus Lofts LLC’s four-story complex at the corner of Wick and Rayen avenues, for which the port authority also is providing financing.

According to YSU spokesman Ron Cole, the university now has 2,131 beds for students: 929 beds in university-run buildings, 408 that are university-owned but not managed beds and 794 beds in housing that is neither owned nor managed by YSU. 

“Student housing at YSU is literally booming,” Trevena told the port authority board at the meeting. “If there’s another student housing project, we’ll present it to the board for consideration.” 

In other action, the board members approved accepting $75,000 from Mahoning County to reimburse the port authority for assessments the port authority is conducting for the former Youngstown Developmental Center and to authorize the execution of a term sheet and preliminary agreement to assist with the renovation of Southern Park Mall.  

Two weeks ago, the Mahoning County Board of Commissioners approved the $75,000 for the assessment of the Austintown campus. The port authority is partnering with the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board to develop the campus, where community partners would provide wraparound services for underserved populations in the region.

Over time, the campus could serve thousands of people, port authority board member Sam Covelli said. 

The port authority would serve as property manager, as it does for the Castlo Industrial Park, according to Trevena. 

The campus could create 50 to 70 jobs, said Randy Partika, development engineer for the port authority. The port authority is seeking bids for the assessments, which would be completed by Jan. 1. 

The assessment of the buildings and property is needed before the port authority can approach the state of Ohio for funding. “For us to be able to approach the state, we need an assessment like this to understand what the costs are going forward,” Trevena said. 

Last month, Washington Prime Group, which owns Southern Park Mall, announced plans to renovate the Boardman retail center, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. 

Washington Prime officials have “very strongly committed their dedication to this asset in the community,” Trevena said.   

The estimated cost of the project, which includes demolition of the former Sears department store and auto center to make way for greenspace and recreational areas, is $30 million, he said. How much financing the port authority would provide is still being determined.  

During his report, Executive Director John Moliterno told the board that he recently received the title work on the building that now houses Chemical Bank’s branch at 3900 Market St. The port authority announced it was acquiring the property in June.

“We’re ready to close,” he said. 

As yet there is no tenant for the site, Trevena said. 

“We’re considering all options for the property. We’re in the negotiating phase of what the future of that site will look like,” he said. 

“You’re going to be amazed when you see everything that’s going to take place,” Moliterno said.  

The port authority is also working with Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics to find additional classroom space, Moliterno said. In 2017, PIA opened an 8,500-square-foot addition to its campus at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, which the port authority manages. PIA trains aircraft maintenance technicians, which are in high demand. 

“They just need space, so we’re doing our best to try to find them some space,” Moliterno said. “We have plenty of land, but I’d like to be able to find them some space they would use right now.” 

Pictured: Ground work is underway for an expansion of the University Edge apartment complex.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.