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BELMONT AVENUE Cafaro considers moving offices



Published: Tue, August 24, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



One official said the move would benefit workers, mall-area merchants.

By CYNTHIA VINARSKY

VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Cafaro Co. is considering a move out of its 1960s-era headquarters on Belmont Avenue into a new office building somewhere in or adjacent to the Eastwood Mall in Niles.

Anthony Cafaro Sr., president of the family-owned shopping center development company, said officials from Trumbull County and the City of Niles are putting together a package of incentives designed to persuade the company to move.

"Our discussions are in the very preliminary stages and certainly no decision has been made," he said, adding that Trumbull government officials expect to have a package ready in a few weeks.

Moving the company's 200-person staff from Youngstown's North Side to a location near the mall would create a synergy, Cafaro said, which would benefit both the employers and the Eastwood retailers.

The work force at Cafaro's headquarters -- a staff of architects, engineers, accountants, real estate representatives, attorneys and general office workers -- would have a wide variety of stores and restaurants to choose from during their lunch breaks and after hours.

Eastwood complex businesses would, in turn, benefit from the added customer base, he explained.

Reaction in Youngstown

Youngstown Mayor George McKelvey said he was surprised to learn Cafaro officials were looking into a move. He said the city would fight to keep the company's headquarters here.

"If this is a situation where they are being made an economic development offer, we will of course request the opportunity to review that offer so that we can make a counteroffer," McKelvey said.

"I think you'll find that Cafaro Co. pays a significant amount of income tax to the city. Very strongly stated, we do not want to lose the Cafaro Co.'s presence in the city of Youngstown," McKelvey said.

A spokeswoman in the city's finance office said Monday she could not divulge how much municipal income tax Cafaro headquarters employees pay annually.

Mahoning County Commissioner Ed Reese said losing Cafaro Co. would be "a hindrance" to the city and the county.

"It's one of our largest corporations, and just the existence of Cafaro Co. brings a certain amount of prestige to the city and the county," he said.

County officials will want to work with the city to put together a competing offer to encourage Cafaro Co. not to move, Reese said. "We would try to give them some kind of incentive to stay," he said.

Bigger building

If the company decides to move, Cafaro said, plans are to erect a three- or four-story office building large enough to house its own headquarters and with additional space to lease to other businesses. He said the company would not consider taking space and renovating it.

Its Belmont Avenue building is about 45,000 square feet, he said, but the new headquarters would likely be 60,000 square feet or larger.

Cafaro said officials have not yet homed in on a specific location, except that it would have to be "in direct proximity" to Eastwood Mall.

Cafaro said he grew up in a house at the corner of Wilson Avenue and Shehy Street in Youngstown and has "mixed emotions" about moving the corporate offices out of the city. "I'm a Youngstowner myself, so it's a difficult decision," he said.

Founded in the 1940s by William M. Cafaro, the Cafaro Co. is one of the nation's largest privately held shopping center developers, operating about 34 million square feet of commercial real estate in 13 states.

vinarsky@vindy.com




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