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Warren council extends Dana St. closure

Member lauds ‘slow’ progress made at Auto Parkit facility

WARREN — City council voted 7-3 on Wednesday to continue the closure of Dana Street for another 90 days.

The street has been blocked from near the corner of North Park Avenue to Paige Avenue NE since 2017 at the request of Christopher Alan, who is developing what eventually will be the headquarters, manufacturing and test facility of Auto Parkit, which builds automated parking systems.

Alan, founder of the Los Angeles-based company, announced in 2015 he wanted to move the company’s headquarters, manufacturing and testing facilities to his hometown.

When he made the initial announcement about opening facilities in Warren, Alan projected the company would create between 250 and 300 jobs in Warren over the course of the next three years.

The company since has had several roadblocks thrown its way, including a lawsuit in U.S. Bankruptcy Court by the former owner of the Delphi facility that later was resolved.

Alan’s companies, Dorian Capital Investments Inc. and Raider Trading Limited LLC, took ownership of 650 Griswold Ave., the former Delphi plant, and 480 Dana St., the former Packard Electric plant, in 2018.

The companies later had issues with paying property taxes acquired in the transfers of ownership. But the Trumbull County Treasurer’s Office said Thursday the property tax payments now are up to date.

Councilman Greg Greathouse, chairman of council’s traffic committee, during Wednesday’s meeting asked for approval of the street closure extension because the current extension is scheduled to expire.

A council resolution to extend the closure is needed every 90 days.

“I toured the facility about eight months ago, and I was impressed by what has been done,” he said. “He is making progress, albeit very slowly.”

Greathouse is attempting to set up a tour of the facility for other council members in October.

He provided a memorandum sent by an Auto Parkit representative to all city council members. It describes progress being made on the Dana Street properties.

The company, in the memorandum, listed some of the items being done, or already done, on the Auto Parkit site, including:

• The recommissioning of the Packard substation by FirstEnergy, which will give the company the necessary power to go into full production;

• Completion of its electric-vehicle testing site;

• Building of the company’s truck entrance from Dana Street. The building columns are up and stonework for the entrance is expected to be completed this month;

• Electrical infrastructure is being installed in the former Packard building;

• Lobby and office space renovations are expected to be completed by the end of the month;

• Power to Plant 8 at the corner of Paige and Griswold is being re-established;

• Some fabrication and assembly work has been moved into the Packard plant building;

• The company is continuing to hire engineers, laborers and a full-time carpenter, as well as project managers.

Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd Ward, said he would not support extending the road closure until Alan explains what he plans to do with the Hughes mansion on North Park Avenue. Novak told council Alan did not respond to his requests for information.

In 2016, Alan volunteered to stabilize the former mansion, 634 N. Park Ave., for Trumbull County Land Reutilization Corp. after AMG Foundation, a nonprofit organization, failed to turn the 5,561-square-foot building into a veterans home. But Alan fell in love with the potential of the mansion and decided to make it his home when he works in the city.

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