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Port Authorities Team Up for Construction Project in Columbiana

LISBON, Ohio – During a brief telephone conference call meeting Monday, the Columbiana County Port Authority Board of Directors passed a resolution agreeing to join forces with the Western Reserve Port Authority on construction of a new assisted living facility in Columbiana.

With member Tad Herold opposed, the board voted in favor of the resolution, which will pave the way for construction of the 69,400-square-foot facility at 43171 County Line Road.

According to WRPA Director Anthony Trevena, the facility will consist of 79 units, with at least 25 units also dedicated to a memory care center. It will employ 50 workers.

Trevena said the WRPA board will authorize the issuance of bonds not to exceed $17 million toward the construction cost of the new facility, which is being developed by EDM Management Inc. It will be operated by Briarfield Health Care under the name Inn at Old Saybrook.

Footers are already being poured for the facility, with construction expected to begin this month and be completed by June 2024, according to Trevena.

“It’s a great company that builds great facilities. We’re happy to be working with them,” Trevena said of EDM.

Trevena also said he is “especially excited to be partnering with the Columbiana County Port Authority to facilitate developing our counties.”

When contacted after the meeting about his opposing vote, Herold said, “I have every confidence this will be a successful project for both Mahoning and Columbiana counties. I’m sure it will be a positive project.”

He added that CCPA Executive Director Penny Traina and CCPA attorney Tim Brookes had “worked hard with WRPA” on forging the agreement, but he declined to comment further on his opposition.

According to Traina, the agreement came about after the CCPA was contacted by the WRPA about working collectively on the project. She said the WRPA has been working with this group, building such facilities elsewhere.

“The company was ready to build, and Anthony asked if we were interested in entering [the agreement],” Traina said after the meeting.

While the CCPA will have no financial investment in the project, Traina said the WRPA does need its cooperation in building in Columbiana County and taking advantage of savings on sales tax.

The CCPA will, however, be entitled to a fee amounting to 50% of the total transaction costs negotiated by the WRPA as part of the project, according to Traina.

She told the board the project will create jobs and employment and improve housing opportunities in Columbiana County.

Pictured at top : The construction site of the new assisted living facility in Columbiana.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio. Tuesday, August 15, 2023 Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert 

No longer just the regional airport’s operator, WRPA improves real estate

YOUNGSTOWN — The Western Reserve Port Authority has evolved over the past 15 years from being mostly the operator of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport into also being a big driver of economic development.“We went from running the airport, to creating the economic development arm that mostly did incentive programs, to growing it into a brick-and-mortar approach and improving real estate,” said Anthony Trevena, port authority executive director.Trevena was hired as economic development director in 2015, replacing Rose Ann DeLeon, who was hired in 2009 and remained director through 2014.

Former U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland convinced local leaders in 2008 to fund the position first filled by DeLeon, saying the Mahoning Valley needed to take advantage of the tools available to Ohio port authorities to acquire, lease, develop and sell property, issue bonds and save developers money.

The first funding was $375,000 per year for three years from the Mahoning and Trumbull County commissioners and the cities of Youngstown, Warren and Niles, Howland Township and the Western Reserve Building Trades Council. In about 2012, additional bed taxes were added to stabilize funding.

In the early years after DeLeon was hired, many of the projects involved a tool called a capital lease, which encouraged developers to come to the Valley by offering an exemption on sales taxes on construction materials.

Projects such as the Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Valley Race Course in 2013 and privately developed student apartments near Youngstown State University in 2016 benefited from the capital lease tool. It was also used 2019, when the port authority provided a capital lease to the TJX Warehouse project in Lordstown.

But the economic development team of Trevena and Sarah Lown, the port authority’s public finance manager, started to focus on real estate projects around 2017 following a meeting with Warren Mayor Doug Franklin about properties Warren owned. The idea continued in Mahoning County.

The first Mahoning County project involved the Harshman building at 101 E. Boardman St. in downtown Youngstown. The port authority bought the building in 2017, renovated it in 2018, and Eastern Gateway Community College has been using it as its health and workforce building for several years.

When the port authority takes over a piece of property, improves it and turns it over to company that can turn into a productive enterprise, it creates a positive ripple effect on the other properties nearby, Trevena said.

“We want to improve a critical asset so that those ripples going out improve values,” he said.

“We’ve seen that already,” Trevena said. “Where we tore down the (Chemical) bank building (on Market Street in Youngstown), since then the Taco Bell was redone, you’re seeing more people investing in that area. When we invest in a neighborhood through a commercial property, you will see others in that area do the same.”



The start of the port authority’s work on real estate projects was in Warren with the signing of a cooperative agreement in 2018 whereby the city turned over nine properties to the port authority, which has improved and sold a number of them.

An Ohio port authority has the ability to buy and sell property without some of the requirements of a city — such as going out to bid, selling to the lowest bidder and selling it at the appraised price, Trevena said.

One of the first properties in Warren was the former SCOPE senior center on West Market Street just west of Courthouse Square. The port authority worked with developer Mark Marvin, who developed it into the CharBenay’s on the River winery.

Other early projects included property near the St. Vincent DePaul food kitchen on Niles Road that the organization acquired for expansion.

More recently, the port authority acquired idle land on Warren’s southwest side to create the 81-acre Warren West Industrial Park. Lots of parcels were combined to create the industrial park, including Deemer Park, the former Warren Western Reserve High School site and the former Westlawn neighborhood.

Ground is expected to be broken as soon as this spring on the first speculative building at the former Westlawn site, said Wiley Runnestrand, managing partner with West Warren Development LLC, which plans for the suite to be suitable for mid-sized modern manufacturing, warehouse / distribution and research / development.

“There were over 100 parcels in there,” so it would have been difficult for a developer to work through the details to combine them, Trevena said. The city owned part of the land, and the Warren City Schools owned the former school property.

“We did the site work to survey it, platted it, put it all into a parcel,” Trevena said. “At a recent port authority board meeting, all of the parcels were given to the port authority and we sold it to this developer,” Trevena said.

On this project, the developer paid the appraised value for the land, and the port authority is distributing the money to the city and school district.

The port authority also acquired the former Mickey’s Army-Navy building on Main Avenue downtown in November of 2020 and sold it to Marvin.

The port authority later received a donation of about 1,000 acres of former RG Steel / Republic Steel property through a donation by Chuck Betters of BDM Warren Steel Holdings.

“We are the steward of that property. There’s about 200 acres that we are doing a Phase 2 (environmental study) to see what remediation needs to be done,” Trevena said. “The other 800 has what is called a covenant not to sue, so it can be developed. We’re working with other interested parties to potentially develop it into a large opportunity like manufacturing. We’ve been showing the property to (companies) looking for large plots of land for development. We’re hopeful to restore that to productive use and see jobs on that site again soon.”

The port authority also helped the Trumbull County Historical Society secure a building on Mahoning Avenue in Warren in 2019 the organization will use to expand its programs.



The port authority’s real estate development story in Youngstown unfolded in a more personal way, when the port authority found itself needing to move its own offices from a building called Penguin Place on Champion Street because Penguin Place was going to be demolished for a student-housing project.

“We knew (Penguin Place) was going to be torn down for student housing,” Trevena said. “We knew we would need a place (for our offices), so we looked for a building. We thought why don’t we buy the Harshman Building? We had plotted out where our offices were going to be, who we were going to rent it to.”

The port authority thought it was going to rent parts of the building to Eastern Gateway, but the community college ended up turning it into its health and workforce building, and the port authority moved into another space.

“And the rest is history,” Trevena said. “We realized this type of redevelopment was a real critical need for the community.”

“We have an engineer, Randy Partika, on staff, who oversaw the construction. The next thing you know we are creating jobs, as well as a place for students in workforce development, so we’re looking for those niche opportunities,” he said.

In January of 2020, the port authority acquired the former Chemical Bank building at the corner of Midlothian Boulevard and Market Street in Boardman at the border with Youngstown. The cost was $1.

“The bank was demolished, and a Dunkin’ Donuts and ATM are there now,” Trevena said.



In recent months, the port authority has done multiple commercial-property revitalizations in the Mahoning Avenue corridor on Youngstown’s West Side. But it’s also focused on Market Street on the city’s South Side and Belmont Avenue on the North Side because downtown buildings are not readily available, Trevena said.

The port authority looked at several buildings along Mahoning Avenue in Youngstown in 2022 before deciding to acquire the building at 1586 and 1588 Mahoning Ave. that was once Dave’s Auto Parts. There was a tax delinquency on the buildings, so the Mahoning County Land Bank acquired it and donated it to the port authority.

“We put new roofs on them, and then we had them abated from any hazardous materials, a little asbestos and paint, had them cleaned and prepared for sale,” Trevena said.

“And now Voyager Coffee is in renovation to put their retail coffee shop in there. Their (coffee) roasters will use the other building there, so that building is back in productive use.”

The port authority also acquired the former Clark Bar in 2022 through the land bank.

“Apartments are being renovated upstairs, and the lower level will be prepared for whatever business would like to obtain it. Part of the work is bringing the building up to code,” he said. “Were looking for the right entrepreneur who will put a productive business in there.”

In late February, an open house was held at the former Sweet Arrangements store at 1528 Mahoning Ave., which the port authority acquired at the urging of Youngstown Councilman Mike Ray to help stabilize the neighborhood.

“What was unique about that one is that our team has been such great stewards of these types of properties that Councilman Ray came forward and gave us $200,000,” Trevena said. The money was Ray’s allocation of American Recovery Plan funds for the city’s Fourth Ward. Trevena said the building will probably be ready for purchase and occupancy in about five months.

Former Fifth Ward Youngstown councilwoman Lauren McNally, now a state representative, also allocated $300,000 of her wards’ s ARPA funds for property acquisitions, renovations or vacant property clean up in her ward, he noted.

“So that is a half a million dollars toward the efforts we were already doing,” Trevena said. Investment in the Mahoning Avenue corridor has reached $1.25 million so far.

The port authority also bought the 23-acre former McGuffey Plaza Site on McGuffey Road on the East Side in 2022. Recently, Youngstown Councilman Jimmy Hughes said he would sponsor legislation to use $250,000 of the city’s American Rescue Plan funds toward cleanup of the site and make it shovel ready for potential developers.



The port authority has added staff in recent years.

Nick Chretien, executive director of the nonprofit Economic Action Group, also now works for the port authority. Chretien and his staff share office space with the port authority in the City Centre One building on East Federal Street downtown.

Another recent hire is Krista Beniston, former Boardman zoning inspector, who was hired after the port authority acquired the former RG Steel / Republic Steel property.

She is overseeing a $324,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration aviation grant that addresses “what we can do with our property at the airport,” Trevena said, as well as another grant for Air Heritage Park, also in Vienna.

She is also able to assist the port authority on zoning related matters for the RG Steel / Republic Steel project because the property is in several political subdivisions, Trevena said.

The port authority also now employs Eric Sussman, who worked for the former owner of the RG Steel / Republic Steel site. Susman oversaw the demolitions and cleanup at the site. Sussman is now superintendent of the port authority properties, including the airport.

Trevena said the port authority had to “shift gears” when it started to take on properties such as the steel mill site. With Beniston and Sussman on staff, the port authority can “self perform a lot of work in-house,” Trevena said.

Lown, who has done economic development in the Youngstown area for decades, said the port authority struggled in its earliest economic development efforts because of the economic downtown at about the time DeLeon was hired and because of the newness of the concept.

“Our board was not really ready to think about economic development at the time,” she said. “They were oriented around the airport.”

“When Anthony came on board, he brought so much more experience — national and statewide experience,” said Lown.

Lown also serves as executive director of the CASTLO Industrial Park in Struthers and is director of the Mahoning County Community Improvement Corp. She also managed the port authority’s work starting in 2020 to renovate former Youngstown Developmental Center on Countyline Road in Mineral Ridge.

After $3.5 million of investment, the facility is now the Campus of Care, which provides social services to the community’s most vulnerable populations through a number of organizations.

“As the father of a special needs child and having many, many friends with children with those challenges, to see that work is one of the greatest things I’ve ever been a part of,” Trevena said of the Campus of Care.

“Sarah, Randy (Partika), the county commissioners, the (Mahoning County) Mental Health and Recovery Board — what a true collaboration. I wish everybody in the community could see it. It would everybody so proud,” Trevena said of the Campus of Care.



As executive director, Trevena also has responsibility for the airport, which the port authority owns and operates. The focus is on securing daily air service again. It carried out a study of possible opportunities to do that.

“We believe Youngstown is absolutely in position to return to service, and we continue to have those discussions,” he said.

He said a pilot shortage makes it difficult for smaller airports to get daily air service from a commercial airline. “The airlines are very judicious where they go,” Trevena said. The local airport’s most likely service will be to leisure destinations like Florida — the type of flights Allegiant Air operated until it stopped service in 2018.

He said continued education of the public about the importance of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, which uses the airport’s runways, is important because the reserve station has more than 2,000 employees, making it the biggest employer in Trumbull County and second largest employer in the Mahoning Valley.

“We fight every day to keep our air base here. It’s a big economic driver,” he said.

The other type of aviation at the airport — private, corporate air travel — is “rapidly growing,” Trevena said.

“When you’ve got Foxconn, TJ Maxx and Ultium Cells and the other corporations here — AVI is one of the largest vending companies in the nation. You’ve got the Cafaro Company. You’ve got the owner of the (San Francisco) 49ers here,” he said of John and Denise York and their family.

The airport is also home to a campus of the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, which graduates 120 to 130 students learning to be aviation mechanics each year, Trevena said.


Significant events since 2008

2008: Former U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan urges Mahoning Valley communities to invest in economic development by creating an economic development arm of the Western Reserve Port Authority, operator of the Youngstown:Warren Regional Airport.

2009: Rose Ann DeLeon hired as the port authority’s first economic development director.

2013: Provides capital lease to Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Valley Race Course through powers granted to port authorities to save companies the cost of sales taxes on construction materials.

2015: Anthony Trevena hired as economic development.

2016: Provides incentives to assist development of private student housing near Youngstown State University.

2017: Begins to focus on projects to improve commercial real estate to increase property values and neighborhoods, including the Harshman Building in downtown Youngstown.

2018: Expands focus on real estate projects into Warren with a cooperative agreement with the city. Leads to the redevelopment of the former SCOPE Center downtown into a winery.

2018: Daily flights at the airport through Allegiant Air end.

2019: Helps the Trumbull County Historical Society secure a building on Mahoning Avenue in Warren to use for expansion of services.

2019: Provides capital lease to assist in the development of the TJX warehouse in Lordstown.

2020: Acquires the former Mickey’s Army-Navy store on Main Avenue in Warren and sells it to Warren developer Mark Marvin.

2020: Acquires the former Chemical Bank at Midlothian Boulevard and Market Street in Boardman, demolishes it, making room for a Dunkin’.

2020: Begins management of project to oversee upgrades needed to turn the former Youngstown Developmental Center on Countyline Road in Mineral Ridge into the Campus of Care.

2021: Acquires the former RG Steel / Republic Steel property south of Warren, carries out an environmental study and markets it for redevelopment.

2022: Acquires several commercial properties in Youngstown, improves them and markets them for redevelopment.


SOURCE: Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator archives

MAY 14, 2023    ED RUNYAN

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Last year was a transformational for the Western Reserve Port Authority with significant momentum gained in community revitalization, property management, airport development and greater staff capacity.

WRPA is a key partner in community and economic development in the Mahoning Valley and 2022 brought new projects and new leadership. Established to operate the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, the port authority expanded to become a dynamic, multifaceted agency dedicated to promoting growth and economic opportunity.

In February 2022, WRPA bade farewell to long-time executive director John Moliterno as he retired and welcomed Anthony Trevena in this role. Under Trevena’s leadership, the port authority has increased organizational capacity to drive growth through its economic development division and to expand facilities at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

“Anthony’s vision and experience are a tremendous asset to the Valley,” says Martin Loney, board president. “The port authority has thrived under his leadership and this is only the beginning of what we can accomplish.”

One of the port authority’s key initiatives is the redevelopment of vacant and blighted properties through financing, property acquisition, management and redevelopment. This includes the Warren megasite BDM Steel, one of the largest brownfield redevelopment sites in Ohio, according to Trevena.

The city of Youngstown deployed American Rescue Plan Act funds though the port authority to continue revitalization efforts on the Mahoning Avenue corridor. Multiple properties are set to be renovated in 2023 and returned to productive use, Trevena says. In 2022, WRPA also acquired the former McGuffey Mall site in Youngstown, representing a significant redevelopment opportunity.

The port authority played a key role in the transformation of the Mahoning Valley Campus of Care, a 35-acre campus that serves special-needs individuals. After extensive renovations, the campus is nearing full occupancy, with $3.8 million in capital investment since 2019, 110 temporary construction jobs created, and 344 permanent on-site jobs created within the health and human services industry.

The port authority also manages the Mahoning County and Castlo Community Improvement corporations and the Mahoning River Corridor Mayors’ Association.

“These initiatives along with our economic development partners are helping to spur river redevelopment, downtown improvements and property reclamation,” Trevena says.

The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport is planning its future by using a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant of $335,264 to create a development strategy. This effort will examine aviation industry trends to develop and diversify airport assets. The airport runway will also be resurfaced, thanks to former U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan securing a $5 million grant, Trevena says.

In addition, the airport continues to foster community engagement by hosting popular events such as the Wings and Wheels Fly-In and Car Show. These events bring together nearly 100 airplanes and 1,000 vintage cars.

Nick Chretien, regional development manager, and Krista Beniston, planning manager, joined the staff to assist in economic development, regional planning and project management. Both bring valuable experience in real estate development, property rehabilitation, acquisition, community planning, zoning, land use and transportation.

“The WRPA is grateful for the support and collaboration of our regional partners, including the Regional Chamber, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, the Youngstown Foundation, Valley Partners and other regional partners,” Trevena says. “ Economic development in the region requires solid partners and the WRPA’s successes are a testament to the collaborative efforts of everyone in the Valley.”


Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority is assembling property just west of downtown Warren on behalf of a potential developer.

WRPA’s board of directors voted Wednesday morning on several agreements to accept a total of just over 81 acres off West Market Street from the city of Warren and the Warren City School District for the potential project.

The board approved entering into an agreement to acquire 94 parcels totaling just over 48 acres from the city under its recently renewed cooperative agreement with the city during its monthly meeting, held at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. The property includes the now-vacant site of the former Westlawn apartments.

The board also entered into a separate property transfer agreement, modeled on its existing agreements with Warren and Youngstown, with the Warren school district as well as a resolution to acquire another five parcels totaling just over 33 acres adjacent to the property it is acquiring from the city.

Both transactions with the school district must also be approved by the school board, and all 99 parcels will be purchased from the city and school district for their appraised value, said Anthony Trevena, port authority executive director.

That appraised value is $195,000, said Mike Keys, Warren’s director of community and economic development.

City officials also have approved a zone change to accommodate the proposed development, said Nick Chretien, regional planning and development manager for the port authority.

“We’re not at liberty at this time to discuss the end developer,” but city officials “want us to be able to tee up the ability to receive these parcels that will then be sold to an end user for the creation of jobs,” he said. The company is looking at a groundbreaking as soon as spring, he said.

“The developer is ready to start as soon as we’re able to get the properties transferred,” Keys said.

The agreements were among several property-related items the WRPA board acted on during the meeting, including the execution of final lease documents with Clean Energy Future Trumbull LLC for the Trumbull Energy Center project in Lordstown.

Clean Energy Future Trumbull is constructing a natural gas-fueled combined-cycle energy plant on land next to a similar-size operation called the Lordstown Energy Center, which Clean Energy Future LLC helped develop in 2018. The entity closed on financing for the $1.2 billion project and on the site for the project last year.

The agreement approved Wednesday includes authorizing execution and delivery of a ground lease agreement and construction manager at risk agreement, as well as issuance of a sales tax exemption certificate.

Clean Energy Future Trumbull already has begun clearing the site, said Martin Loney, port authority chairman. In excess of 2.5 million man-hours are estimated for completion of the project.

Additionally, the board approved agreements to acquire a building and land at 900 Pine Ave. SE in Warren from North Park Properties for $100,000, and 22.87 acres of land at 1979 Youngstown-Kingsville Road in Vienna from James and Nancy Alderman for $205,830.

The Warren property is adjacent to the former BDM Steel site, which the port authority acquired last year and is marketing for potential development.

“We just don’t want this to end up in hands that would not necessarily fit with what our future plans are,” Trevena said.

WRPA purchased the Vienna property for a possible public access park that would showcase the history of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station. Features could include models of the aircraft that have been based at the airbase throughout its history and potentially an observation deck, said Col. Jeff Van Dootingh, commander of the 910th Airlift Wing.

The port authority received $500,000 in state capital funds for the project, Trevena said.

At the beginning of the meeting, the board voted unanimously to retain its current slate of officers, headed by Loney as chairman, Sam Covelli as vice chairman and Rich Edwards as secretary.

All three have served in their respective roles since 2017.

“Everything seems to be going so smooth right now with the leadership that we have,” said Covelli, who chairs the economic development committee. “I don’t think this is the time to change anything.”

Additionally, Edwards will continue to chair the aviation committee, and Kathleen Kennedy will chair the finance committee.


Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio. George Nelson. January 19, 2023.

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority approved extending its partnership with the city of Warren to move city properties back into productive use and entered into a similar agreement with Mahoning County.

Members of WRPA’s board of directors approved the agreements, under which the city and county can transfer properties to the port authority to market for economic development purposes, at their final scheduled meeting of 2022 on Wednesday morning.

The board’s action authorized Anthony Trevena, WRPA’s executive director, to enter into another cooperative agreement with the city of Warren. The two entities entered into their initial agreement in 2017.

Political subdivisions that directly dispose of properties are required to put those out for bid rather than sell them directly, while port authorities have “a little more liberty” with property transfers, Trevena said.

Since the initial agreement with Warren, the port authority has transferred four properties that have been successfully redeveloped, including the former Warren Scope Center and the former Mickey’s Army-Navy plaza.

The Mahoning County Board of Commissioners approved entering into a memorandum of understanding with the port authority last week.

“This is a blanket agreement,” Sarah Lown, public finance manager for the port authority, said. Under the MOU, should Mahoning County have a piece of property that needs to be acquired and improved, the port authority would act as the agent to undertake those activities on the county’s behalf.

In other business, the port authority approved accepting $300,000 in American Rescue Plan funds from the city of Youngstown to manage capital improvement projects in the city’s 5th Ward. The agreement is modeled on a similar one the port authority entered into with the city to accept $200,000 in ARP funds to manage projects in the 4th Ward.

City Council will vote on the funding request at its meeting Wednesday evening.

The agreements build on work WRPA has done over the past few years on Mahoning Avenue, said Nick Chretien, WRPA regional planning and development manager and executive director of Economic Action Group.

Last year, the port authority, under a property transfer agreement with Youngstown, transferred a pair of buildings along the corridor to Voyager Specialty Coffees and Teas, which is relocating its manufacturing and distribution operation from Canfield and opening a coffee house.

Fifth Ward Councilwoman Lauren McNally, who proposed allocating the ARP funds for her ward, said the ARP agreements with the port authority build on a vision she and 4th Ward Councilman Mike Ray had for Mahoning Avenue several years ago that began with a small, grassroots group.

Other recent investments along the corridor include the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County’s $4 million Michael Kusalaba branch, which has helped anchor that area, as well as others including Westside Bowl.

“To have a partner like the port authority willing to take on a big chunk of what’s needed is amazing,” McNally said. In addition, the city is going to spend about $3.3 million on infrastructure, she said.

The work will take several years before the complete fruits of their collective labors will be seen, “but once it’s done, it’ll be really cool,” she added. Hopefully it will provide a “blueprint” for what can be done in other parts of the city, she said.

WRPA board member Ed Muransky applauded the kinds of “generational” investments being made with the ARP funds.

“What you’re doing is investing in something that your child and their children will enjoy,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting also was the first for WRPA’s newest employee, planning manager Krista Beniston, former Boardman Township zoning and development director. She currently is focused on implementing a strategic planning and development analysis for Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, which the port authority operates.

The goal is to craft a development or strategic plan for the airport, as well as to look at how to position the airport for its current tenants and to attract future tenants, Beniston said. The current timeline calls for the study to be completed next fall.


Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio. George Nelson. December 21, 2022.

WRPA Seeks Funds to Study Former McGuffey Mall Site

WARREN, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority will seek grant funds to conduct a Phase II environmental review of the former McGuffey Mall property in Youngstown.

The port authority, which took title to the property in early April, recently competed a Phase I review of the site, Anthony Trevena, WRPA’s executive director, said.

The 20-acre property was among several port authority-owned sites that were discussed during Wednesday’s meeting of the WRPA board of directors.

“We’re just in the process of applying for it now,” Trevena said. “We knew all along that there was a gas station and a dry cleaner there.”

All the buildings on the site already have been demolished, except for one that the port authority discovered after the acquisition was part of the site.

The port authority is continuing to salvage recyclable materials at another property it owns, the former BDM Steel property in Warren, Trevena said. Sales of the materials have helped pay for equipment that the port authority needs for its sites, including an excavator.

The approximately 1,000-acre site is being marketed as a “mega site” by entities such as JobsOhio potentially for use by a single user. Though it also could be broken up for individual use, there aren’t many sites of that size in the state of Ohio that are “contiguous and shovel ready,” he said.
The site has come in “close consideration” for projects on a couple occasions.

“That site, to our understanding, has some of the largest amount of available electricity in northeast Ohio. You also have access to the river for cooling water,” he added. “It’s just a resource that’s got incredible amenities for a large project.”

Board member Ed Muransky said he would like to see a three- or five-year plan for how the port authority is addressing site improvements to get the property ready for development.

“We’ve only owned this for four months so we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” Trevena said. “I think we’re getting a lot better handle on this.”

Trevena also reported that the port authority is still cleaning out the former Clark Bar building in Youngstown that it acquired in March from Mahoning County Land Bank.

The property already has received five inquiries from business owners interested in utilizing the first level, with apartments being contemplated for the upper level, he reported.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio. May 19, 2022. George Nelson.

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority approved issuing a revenue bond of up to $15 million Wednesday morning to support an expansion project by Youngstown Orthopaedic Center.

The port authority expects to officially close April 27 on the agreement with Mane Health Realty LLC, a real estate firm headquartered in Youngstown, WRPA’s executive director, Anthony Trevena, said.

The resolution, approved by WRPA’s board of directors at its monthly meeting, also authorizes the port authority to enter into a partial easement or ground lease agreement and enter into a construction services agreement with Main Health Realty.

The medical practice plans to build a 36,725-square-foot medical office building on an approximately 8.6-acre site in Boardman according to the resolution. The building will house physical therapy, occupational therapy and radiology, as well as operations and administrative staff and up to 12 physicians.

The project is expected to maintain 100 jobs and add up to 12 new positions. Jude Nohra, an attorney representing the companies, said in February. Construction will take up to two years.

“They can start anytime,” Trevena said.

Trevena also reported that the port authority worked with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to provide approximately 56,000 net tons of slag from the former BDM steel property to fill in lagoons at the former Copperweld Steel property.

The port authority sold the slag from the industrial site, which the port authority recently acquired, for aproximatley $120,000, Kevin Kern, the port authority’s chief financial officer, told the board. The income helps offset expenses the port authority has incurred from acquiring the approximately 1,000-acre site, including the purchase of an $18,000 water pump and a $165,000 excavator.

Also during the meeting, which was held at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, Trevena announced that the airport would host a traveling exhibit dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen, the group of primarily Black fighter pilots and airmen who flew during World War II.

Warren Heritage Center has been working since before the COVID-19 pandemic to bring the exhibit here, Jim Valesky, president of the center, said. The exhibit, which will run Oct. 18 though 23, will include an 53-foot tractor-trailer with expandable sides that turns into a theater, and a restored P-51C Mustang aircraft.

With luck, the event also will include a display dedicated to the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio. April 20, 2022. George Nelson.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, and Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, introduced legislation Thursday that would lead to the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport (YNG) and Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS) being designated as a primary airport.

The legislation seeks to designate any airport in use by an air reserve station as a “primary airport,” according to a press release. Currently, YNG is the only commercial airport in the country with an air reserve station that doesn’t have commercial air service.

Upon losing commercial air service in 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration significantly reduced the annual maintenance funding at the airfield. As a result, YNG faces significant and increasing challenges to maintain its infrastructure for current users, including the 910th Airlift Wing, corporate, charter and general aviation users.

“The Youngstown Warren Regional Airport is an economic driver here in the Mahoning Valley. This designation would bolster the important role it serves in our region and further protect our airbase while ensuring the men and women who work and serve there have access to the infrastructure necessary to do their jobs efficiently and safely,” Ryan said in a statement. “I’m grateful to partner with Congressman Johnson on this important legislation that would accelerate economic growth in the Valley and improve Ohioans’ quality of life.”

The legislation would amend title 49, United States Code, to direct the FAA to include a public airport in use by an air reserve station as a primary airport, Johnson said.

“The Western Reserve Port Authority and local officials have been working as hard as ever to both maintain the airport, bring back commercial traffic, and support the mission of the 910th Airlift Wing,” Johnson said. “Designation as a primary airport will go a long way in helping with these goals, and this new approach, if successful, would greatly benefit the airport and region.”

“The Western Reserve Port Authority is grateful for the efforts of Congressmen Johnson and Ryan in recognizing the vital role Youngstown Warren Regional Airport plays as a partner in United States military readiness efforts,” added Anthony Trevena, executive director of the port authority. “This critical amendment insures YNG will have the financial resources necessary for long term sustainability of our runways and other infrastructure needs.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio. Thursday, March 31, 2022.

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority will soon officially take possession of the former Republic Steel property along Pine Avenue in Warren, officials announced at a meeting of WRPA’s board of directors Wednesday morning.

Port authority officials signed documents last week accepting the donation of about 1,000 acres of land from BDM Warren Steel Holdings, and Trumbull County is in the process of transferring the property, WRPA CEO John Moliterno said.

The port authority has been in discussions with BDM on accepting approximately 800 acres of the former Trumbull County steel mill site since August 2020. A few months ago, BDM proposed donating an additional 200 acres at the west side of the property.

The property touches five Trumbull County political subdivisions: Warren, Warren Township, Howland, Lordstown and Weathersfield Township.

The port authority directly accepted the originally proposed site, which was given a clean bill of health by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency following remediation effort. The 200-acre addition, which only has undergone a Phase I environmental survey, was placed into a separate 501(c)3 the port authority controls.

“We’re just getting a proposal on what the cost is for Phase II,” Moliterno said. That study likely will be conducted in 2022, he added.

The additional site provides the property access to major transportation routes to the west, said Anthony Trevena, the port authority’s chief operating officer.

“Eastgate [Regional Council of governments] already has done some preliminary studies to look at routes that could be utilized,” Trevena said.

The port authority regularly receives inquiries regarding the property, Moliterno said. The site is one of multiple topics he expects to discuss with Terry Slaybaugh, vice president of sites and infrastructure for JobsOhio, during a dinner meeting this evening, he said.

“JobsOhio has been a great partner with this community. They have consistently come to the table when we have needed them to come to provide assistance on projects,” he said.

Also during the meeting, the port authority board voted to accept another donation of land, this one a 16-acre site adjacent to the former Kmart distribution center in Bazetta Township, from the Warren-Trumbull County Community Improvement Corp.

The CIC is in the process of winding down its operations, Moliterno said.

“Part of why they’re giving it to us is because they have seen the success we have had with other properties that have been donated to the port authority over the last four or five years,” Moliterno said.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio. November 17, 2021. George Nelson.

WARREN — The Western Reserve Port Authority plans to accept 200 or so acres BDM Warren Steel Holdings LLC wants to give away adjacent to the legacy Republic Steel site, but not without having a degree of environmental comfort.

The land is ideal for its potential to connect the site to 825 more acres BDM intends to donate to the port authority to points west, including industrial development and a transportation corridor in Lordstown.

The carve out, however, is the 200 new acres must first clear an initial environmental assessment.

That assessment is happening now, said John Moliterno, port authority CEO, and should be complete within a few weeks.

The land owned is west of the Mahoning River adjacent to the former ArcelorMittal coke plant, now owned by Cleveland-Cliffs.

It creates the opportunity to access state Route 45 and the industrial development in the corridor, the Ohio Turnpike and Interstate 76. Although some surface streets exist, an access road would likely need built.

“By acquiring that site as well, it gives us the access to get to the roads that we need to get to the main arteries, which means that becomes a major access road and a route to the turnpike, to the GM / LG Chem facility and to TJX, and to everything that is out on that site,” Board member Ed Muransky said.

Muransky pushed hardest for the environmental review being tied to acceptance to mitigate the risk to the port if environmental liabilities exist. “Other than a major smoking gun, I don’t think there is anyone in the room that disagrees with it being a great opportunity for our Valley,” Muranksy said. “I want them to know we approve it. I think it, subject to a smoking gun coming up in phase one that could (lead) to a discussion, that’s all.”

The port authority earlier this year agreed to accept 825 acres from BDM with the intent to redevelop the prime industrial land. Running along Pine Avenue SE, it stretches nearly 2 miles and touches five communities: Warren, Lordstown and Warren, Howland and Weathersfield townships.

It has not legally taken possession of the property yet, but it’s expected by the end of the quarter.

Also earlier this year, an affiliate of Megojoule Ventures, an energy storage and energy storage sector investment company that is part of BRITE Energy Innovators in Warren, purchased the former Republic Steel office building at 999 Pine Ave. SE for $750,000.

Megajoule is redeveloping the building for product development and additional space for other companies affiliated with BRITE, Megajoule President Herb Crowther has said publicly.

The office building is immediately adjacent to the former steelmaking site the port authority will control that for more than 100 years churned out steel.

BDM was the last owner. It bought the mill in 2012 and started looking for a new buyer after RG Steel, which acquired the facility just one year prior, went bankrupt. But with no buyers in sight, BDM auctioned parts of the mill in spring 2013 and began tearing down buildings and started to market the land.

The blast furnace, the last remaining blast furnace in Trumbull and Mahoning counties, was torn down in 2017.


Copyright 2021 The Tribune Chronicle, Warren, Ohio. September 15, 2021. Ron Selak.