WRPA to Acquire Chemical Bank Building in Boardman

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority is poised to acquire the Chemical Bank building and its accompanying three-acre plot on Market Street in Boardman, the agency announced Wednesday.

Anthony Trevena, economic development director for the Port Authority, told board members during their quarterly meeting that Chemical Bank intends to donate the property at 3900 Market St. to WRPA so it could be earmarked for future development.

“This is the first of its kind for us in terms of a public-private partnership,” Trevena said.  

Chemical Bank intends to move out of its offices to a new location once occupied by PNC Bank, Trevena said. The building is located in the Newport neighborhood at the corner of West Midlothian Boulevard and Market, which borders the city of Youngstown.

The landmark building has a distinct architectural style, resembling a pleasure boat rather than a financial institution. 

It’s important that the WRPA take possession of the property so it could be prepared for future development, Trevena said. The Port Authority and Boardman Township are working to help improve commercial corridors in the region – especially the stretch along Market Street between Midlothian and Shields Road.

“The first part is to get control of the property, because you can’t make plans for something you don’t have control of,” he said.

A Phase I environmental assessment is already finished, while a Phase II assessment will likely be funded through the state of Ohio. 

Trevena said there are no immediate plans to redevelop the property. “We have to look at all the environmental assessments, the economics of that and then evaluate what the potential is. Once we’ve gone through all those iterations we’ll make decisions.”

The WRPA board approved a resolution to accept the donated property at its meeting June 19. 

“We’re thrilled to be a partner, and this could be a catalyst for that whole area,” said Krista Beniston, director of zoning and development for Boardman Township. 

Beniston said the corridor between Midlothian and Shields presents and opportunity to develop more neighborhood retail, which is trending elsewhere in the country. “That area is different than 224, and we’re doing everything we can to encourage investment there,” she said. “This is a key location.”

Trevena said WRPA is also working with agencies such as the Mahoning County Land Bank to improve commercial corridors in the region.

Debora Flora, executive director of the Mahoning County Land Bank, said that the goal is to create a commercial property revitalization program, or CPR, that would target blighted commercial properties in major corridors in the county.

The land bank and its various partners have been successful in demolishing or rehabilitating blighted properties in neighborhoods – mostly in the cities.

“We are looking for funding opportunities,” she told the board. “The need to remediate commercial properties around the state exists in a very, very strong way.”

Flora said just about every project the land bank works on involves partnerships and the WRPA is an excellent fit for this initiative. “We’re very excited about the possibilities here,” Flora said. “I think there’s a great deal of potential

In other economic development matters, Trevena said Eastern Gateway Community College has leased the second floor of the WRPA-owned Harshman building on South Champion Street in Youngstown. That building is now 100% occupied by the community college.

The board also learned at its June 19 meeting that Winner Aviation is in the process of selling its fixed-base operator business to Jets FBO.

Jets FBO CEO Mike Hillman, who once worked at Winner, said his company plans to make additional investments in infrastructure to support general aviation at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna. “We’re looking forward to growing the general aviation aspects at the airport,” he told board members.

Fixed-base operators conduct business at airports and provide services such as fueling and hangar space for clients. Jets FBO will occupy hangars 1 and 2N at the airport.

Winner Aviation plans to continue its maintenance services at the airport, said Marleah Campbell, Winner’s director of humans resources. The transaction allows Winner to expand its maintenance and avionics division to accommodate the needs of more complex aircraft. 

“Winner Aviation is still committed to its relationship with the WRPA,” she said. “We’re looking forward to further growth and development.”

Winner will keep its offices on the second floor at the airport’s terminal.  The company owns Hangar 7, and will continue to lease hangars 4, 5 and 6.

John Moliterno, WRPA’s executive director, said the transaction is a positive deal for the future of the airport. “We’re excited about this because we see this a win all around,” he said.

The Port Authority board on Wednesday approved the issuance of $10 million in revenue bonds to TrailStar Realty LLC, which is building a new operation in North Jackson. The board also approved a temporary sales tax exemption certificate to Campus Lofts LLC, which is constructing a $12 million student housing complex at the corner of Wick Avenue and Wood Street in Youngstown.

Moliterno also reminded the board of an upcoming attraction at the airport. From June 26 through June 30, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport will host the CAF Airpower History Tour.

The event will feature World War II aircraft such as the B-29 Superfortress bomber “Fifi,” a T-6 Texan trainer and a PT-13 Stearman biplane.

The aircraft are open for tours on the tarmac. The B-29 will fly at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. June 29 and 30. The cost for a flight on the B-29 ranges in price from $570 to $1,500. Price of admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children age 10 through 17. Children nine years old and under are admitted free of charge. 

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