Mercy Health looks at Eastwood site

NILES — A public notice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reveals the Cafaro Company has applied for permission to clear out an area of its sprawling Eastwood Mall Complex to make way for new development.

According to the notice, the company is looking to fill in portions of wetlands to make way for further construction, while taking steps to lessen the impact of new development on the area’s aquatic resources. The purpose of the development, according to the notice, is to construct a medical office building, a medical education center, an assisted living and memory care facility, an office building, a mid-rise apartment building, a doctor’s office building, and an additional building for Mercy Health’s St. Joseph Warren Hospital.

Mercy Health has been in talks with the Cafaro Company for nearly two years about placing a facility on the Cafaro Company complex. Despite the length of the talks, a spokesman for Mercy Health said discussions remain preliminary.

“It’s so early at this stage,” said Jonathon Fauvie, spokesman for Mercy Health. “It could be. It could not be.”

The land in question covers 103 acres, according to Cafaro Company spokesman Joe Bell. The possible site is located behind Regal Cinemas and Eastwood Field and continues north to extend to state Route 46. It is possible only half of that land would be used for construction, with the remaining portions being designated as wetlands and left undisturbed, Bell said.

At least four other local business entities have expressed interest in locating on the property, according to Bell.

While Fauvie said it is too early to consider what a Mercy Health facility at the Eastwood complex would look like in terms of size and services provided, he said local needs are always taken into account.

“We are constantly evaluating different ways to respond to the community,” said Fauvie, citing Mercy Health’s acquisition of Prima Health Care last month as an example of expansion of services to meet community needs — in that case, Columbiana County.

Fauvie said the company is in an expansion phase and has no interest in closing existing locations if a site on the Cafaro Company property materializes.

“We will continue to serve Trumbull County as we do now,” said Fauvie.

Bell said the site is attractive for any prospective tenant.

“It’s an excellent location because it is so close to U.S. Route 422, state Route 46 and state Route 82,” he said.

Bell said Mercy Health would not move forward until all necessary government regulatory agencies are satisfied, including the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. However, he said he is “optimistic” that the project could begin moving forward next year.

Interested parties may state objections to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

While current talks focus on possible Mercy Health developments outside the Eastwood Mall itself, Mercy Health still operates the St. Joe’s at the Mall site inside the shopping center, which offers free health screenings, education programs and fitness classes.