YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – At Friday’s ceremony marking the start of construction on Youngstown State University’s newest student housing complex, Jim Tressel confessed dissatisfaction.
“Full disclosure, I’m a little bit disappointed it’s not done,” he said as contractors, just yards away, continued to prepare the site at the intersection of Wick and Lincoln avenues.
“But I’ll give you another six months,” he joked.
LRC Realty Inc. and its subsidiary, Youngstown Campus Associates, have targeted an August 2018 completion date — in time for the start of next year’s fall semester — for completion of The Enclave, which will offer 194 student beds and 11,000 square feet of retail space.
“It’s surreal, it’s humbling and it’s a real honor and a privilege to work with President Tressel and Youngstown State to create a project here that will continue to transform the landscape of our campus,” said Frank Licata, president and CEO of LCR Realty, and a 1999 YSU graduate.
The business case for the project had a lot to do with the university’s trajectory and the path it’s on under Tressel, “which shows a lot of opportunity” with potential growth of the student body, Licata said, and activity in downtown Youngstown.
“We believe that the university and downtown work together and we wanted to create a project that connected the university with downtown,” he said.
Lexi Rager, a junior and student member of the YSU Board of Trustees, affirmed the growing interest in on-campus housing. “Our population of students living on campus is growing exponentially,” said Rager. “When you live on campus, it makes YSU no longer just your school.”
“A lot of people come to us that want to be involved with things around the university,” Tressel said. “We like it when they come with emotion.”
Tressel said when he met Licata and saw the look in his eye, it was apparent that the project was business but also “more part of his heart, something he wanted to see for his school.”
Mayor John McNally challenged him four years ago to accelerate the “many great things” already going on in the city, Tressel continued. Credit is due collaborators on the project: the city, YSU and the Western Reserve Port Authority, which worked with Chemical Bank to provide $15 million in financing.
“Like anything else great that happens, a whole bunch of people are a part of it. Nothing great happens unless you have collaboration,” he said
John Moliterno, executive director of the port authority, pointed out that the Enclave project is LRC’s first here. “But we doubt very much that this is the last,” he said.
Among the individuals Licata credited was businesswoman Denise DeBartolo York. “She was very helpful in guiding us as to creating this project,” he said.
DeBartolo York noted that Gary O’Nesti, special projects director with LRC Realty, came to work for her father, developer Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., 30 years ago today and was one of his “star pupils” at the company.
“I just listened to him and verified what he was thinking and gave him a couple of ideas of my own,” she said.
No tenants have been confirmed for the retail space, which includes the building that house the former Campus Book and Supply, which may or may not be demolished depending on tenant need, Licata said. “We have several that are interested and we’re working to bring what I would consider first-class retailers to this project.”
Potential tenants could be food, phone or shipping services, he said. At the University of Akron, where LRC developed a similar project, the company did one of the first deals with Amazon on a college campus.
“We think those types of uses will be similar here at Youngstown State,” Licata said.
Pictured at top: Frank Licata of LRC Realty, YSU President Jim Tressel, Bob Kempe, senior vice president and commercial group manager at Chemical Bank, and John Moliterno, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority.
Copyright: The Business Journal, August 18, 2017, By George Nelson