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Port Authority plans $25M project on airport land

VIENNA — The Western Reserve Port Authority has an ambitious plan to develop land south of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport to house aviation-related companies, including potentially some international entities.

“The entities we are talking to right now about occupying those buildings, we really can’t say their names because they have not made the final commitment to be here, but it’s a very exciting project,” said John Moliterno, the port authority’s executive director. “We are working very closely with JobsOhio on this project.”

JobsOhio is the state’s private, nonprofit economic development agency. The port authority has talked with JobsOhio’s aviation arm about an access road from state Route 193 to the site that would cost $1.5 million to $2 million.

The port authority also is in talks regarding the project with Cleveland-based Team NEO, a business development organization for northeast Ohio, regarding the structures — 30,000-, 60,000- and 90,000-square-foot buildings.

“We’re talking about a minimum of 250 jobs being created with quite a few more coming on top of that,” Moliterno said.

The south side development, Moliterno said, has been on the port authority’s wish list with the Federal Aviation Administration for about 10 years. Construction of the access road also would include installing utility lines.

“We finally have entities that are willing to come into there, and that is really important to us because now there are some things we can do there,” Moliterno said.

He updated the board at its meeting Wednesday on the status of the $25 million to $30 million project.

On the north side of the airport, cement has been laid, and steel framing was expected to start Wednesday on a building to keep the airport’s maintenance equipment. FAA funding has been secured for the building.

“The project we have on the south side is not just a building that helps support airport equipment. We’re talking about something that is much more far- reaching than that; we’re talking about something that brings in companies,” Moliterno said. “These are international companies that are interested in the site.”

“Not only will they help create jobs as they come in, but they will incentivize other entities to come here to also look at land,” Moliterno said.

Also Wednesday, the board accepted a the donation of 231 Main Ave. SW, Warren — a 1.05-acre piece of land and strip mall-type building at the corner of South Street — from STORE Capital, a real estate investment trust based in Scottsdale, Ariz., that owns multiple facilities in the educational sector.

The building previously housed Eastern Gateway Community College’s former Warren campus and before that, Mickey’s Army / Navy store. It contains a Subway restaurant and another beauty-related business.

STORE Capital affiliate, Store Master Funding VI LLC, is shown as the owner on the Trumbull County Auditor’s office website. Store Master bought it in October 2014 for $510,000. The property is valued at $498,600.

Anthony Trevena, the port authority’s economic development director, said STORE got to know the port authority through its dealings with EGCC and Warren. It approached the port authority regarding the donation because of the success the authority had in redeveloping the former Chemical Bank building property in Boardman.

“I think this is really a sign of what the community is seeing the port staff doing with these assets,” he said. “This is not the only entity looking at donating property to the port authority for future development. It’s starting to become a more common conversation.”

Trevena said the port authority plans to work with Warren Mayor Doug Franklin and his staff on the best way to redevelop the location.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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