Four proposals for relocating the Job & amp; Family Services/Child Support Enforcement are being studied.
WARREN -- Land off Youngstown Road, behind the former El Rio Restaurant/Soul 77 building, is the front-runner for relocating Trumbull County's large Job & amp; Family Services/Child Support Enforcement operation.
These departments are merging this year. Both are now in downtown Warren, with about 250 employees and their clients. Two of the four sites to be reviewed by Trumbull County commissioners are downtown but they are not the front-runners.
"We're going to evaluate the report and look at the sites," Commissioner Daniel Polivka said of the report prepared by Phillips/Sekanick Architects. The architect's task was to make recommendations for leasing; the county may also look to purchase or build, Polivka said.
Narrowing the choices
In May, the county received nine proposals from building or property owners. The list was trimmed with input from county officials, community representatives and several boards.
The two proposals the architect says should receive highest consideration are the Youngstown road site, then Covelli Properties' Village Center Plaza in Niles.
Potentially acceptable are the Gibson Building on East Market Street downtown (third), and Kleese Development Associates on South Park Avenue downtown (fourth), J & amp;FS' current landlord.
The sites were ranked for technical compliance, not location. Sought is an office structure of about 76,000 square feet. Cost is estimated at $8.9 million, paid for with federal dollars, with an estimated $1.6 million for parking, lighting and landscaping; there would be 350 parking spaces. Required land would be 5 to 5.5 acres.
Thomas Mahoney, J & amp;FS director, said he is happy with the top recommendation from Eastgate Technology Park Ltd., which he sees as most cost-effective. There is a 6-acre wooded lot, he said. It's contiguous with Time Warner Cable's complex, and adjacent to a hotel.
"This is, clear the lot and build it -- that's why it is most efficient," he said. Keeping the departments in Warren, if not downtown, allows the city to continue to collect its income tax from the staff, he said.
Eastgate Technology Park Ltd. is at 9495 Harvard Blvd., Poland; its managing member is Daniel J. Zarlenga, documents show.
"This project indicates new construction that should make accommodation of the departments' needs easier to execute," the analysis says.
The annual rent proposed is $925,000 for 74,000 square feet. The proposed structure is a single-story building with more than 350 parking spaces.
Mahoney and other county officials said they expect the site selection process to take several more weeks.
The Covelli property is the former ValuCity Furniture/Delphi Packard Electric at Village Center Plaza. It's 76,264 square feet at annual rent of $934,234. The walkout basement level is occupied by the county's Fairhaven Program; the two upper floors are proposed.
Downtown business owners have expressed concern about what will happen if J & amp;FS and CSEA leave the city center.
Gibson Real Estate Management proposes 75,000 square feet at an annual rent of $1.09 million. This three-story building in the downtown was vacated last year by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. "The submitted plans indicate area for expansion," the report said; additional parking is a concern.
The Workplace Policy Board, however, noted: "The positives of this structure included the location within the downtown area of the community and the fact that it was on a transportation route. The concerns that were expressed were related to the availability of parking and the higher price of the building."
Kleese proposes 88,056 square feet at $1.1 million annual rent. This would make use of the city's parking deck and its 486 spaces, but the building needs "significant changes" to meet the county's specifications: toilets, heating and cooling, elevators, mechanical, plumbing and electrical, the report says.
The current lease with Kleese Development for Job & amp; Family Services offices at 150 S. Park Ave. and 147 W. Market St. expires this year. Kleese Development's Nick Perod has offered to give the county the buildings if it makes a five-year commitment to stay.
The county's Child Support Enforcement Agency, meanwhile, is now at 106 High St. N.W. in the county-owned Stone Building.