Economic Development

WRPA, Youngstown Consider Property Agreement

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city of Youngstown could soon enter into an agreement with the Western Reserve Port Authority to acquire and market properties for the city, similar to an agreement the agency has with the city of Warren.

Port authority representatives recently met with city officials to discuss the potential agreement, WRPA Executive Director John Moliterno told members of the port authority’s board of directors Wednesday. 

In 2017, the port authority and Warren entered into an agreement through which the city transfers specific properties to the port authority for economic development purposes. 

“The city of Youngstown liked that idea and wanted to talk to us,” Moliterno said. A recent meeting with port authority representatives included several members of Mayor Jamael Tito Brown’s cabinet.

Three properties already have been transferred and developed under the agreement: the former Warren Scope Center, where CharBenay’s Wine on the River opened this summer; the Owen Morgan house, which the Trumbull County Historical Society is preparing to convert for classroom, conference, exhibit and research space and archival storage; and property on Niles Road where the St. Vincent de Paul Society opened a new thrift store last month.

The port authority provided a copy of its agreement with Warren to Youngstown’s law department.  

“Right now, we’re back and forth in negotiations,” Nikki Posterli, Brown’s chief of staff and director of the city’s department of community planning and economic development, said. 

Before the city moves forward on an agreement, she is working on setting up a meeting with WRPA representatives to do a presentation to members of City Council to provide members more information about how the city could benefit from such a program. 

“We’re trying to schedule that with them before the end of the year,” Posterli said. After that meeting, the city potentially would move forward with drafting legislation.

Such an agreement would give the city “ultimate flexibility” to address properties that are in disrepair or have been in disuse for years and provides an opportunity to work with the port authority to develop them, Moliterno said. 

“That’s what we want to do. It’s not about accumulating property. We have land banks to do that,” he continued. “It’s about developing property and turning an empty building into jobs.” 

Also during the meeting, Michael Hripko, associate vice president of external affairs, government relations and economic development at Youngstown State University, reported on various university initiatives and projects. Among the items he discussed was progress on the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center, which has been delayed due to the project being rebid.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.