WRPA OKs Land Agreement with Youngstown Schools

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority entered into an agreement Wednesday morning with the Youngstown City School District to acquire and market unused properties the district owns.

The agreement, which the port authority’s board of directors voted to approve during its monthly meeting at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, currently covers seven properties, a mixture of shuttered school buildings and vacant land.

The agreement is similar to ones the port authority has with the city of Warren, Warren City Schools and the city of Youngstown to acquire properties and work directly with prospective developers to put the sites back into productive use.

“We see these being future development sites, either through adaptive reuse or fresh builds within neighborhoods,” said Nick Chretien, WRPA regional planning and development manager. Youngstown’s population is about 60,000, down from 170,000 at its peak, so the school system has “overbuilt infrastructure and buildings” that it needs to dispose of.

“Our goal is always to be a good neighbor in the community,” said Bryan Schiraldi, Youngstown Schools treasurer. Some of the buildings, many of which have been vacant for some time, might just need to be demolished, while others still could be used, he said. 

Projects resulting from the agreements since the port authority entered into the first with the city of Warren include the West Warren Industrial Park now under construction; Voyager Specialty Coffee & Teas’ relocation of its production and warehousing operation and the opening of Trex Coffee House on Mahoning Avenue in Youngstown; redevelopment of the former Mickey’s Army-Navy plaza in Warren; and the conversion of the former Warren Scope Senior Center into a wine bar on the banks of the Mahoning River.

The port authority would coordinate with the district on potential end users, said Anthony Trevena, WRPA’s executive director.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the port authority board approved the sale of 10.5 acres of the former Republic Steel/BDM Steel site in Howland Township to the Trumbull county Board of Commissioners for $65,000. The county is acquiring the approximately 1.5-mile stretch of land along the eastern edge of the 1,000-acre site on behalf of Trumbull County MetroParks, which plans to connect the Trumbull County Greenway in Niles and Warren using the property.

The port authority was approached about selling land for the bike path about 18 months ago, but the property requested would have bisected the megasite being proposed for the property – 560 acres of which ended up being sold to Kimberly Clark Corp. for $9.9 million – so the proposed path was rerouted.

“Kimberly-Clark was involved with this all along. This was already carved out of the sale of the land,” said Randy Partika, WRPA project manager and development engineer.

The company, which plans to build a manufacturing plant on the site, “cooperated completely with us,” Trevena said. “We asked them first if they had any issues with the bike trail. They were fine.”

Pictured at top: The former Rutherford B. Hayes Junior High School building in Youngstown.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.