By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Two permits issued Thursday moved the township zoning office to its highest valuation for development in 11 years.
The $16.95 million new middle school on South Raccoon Road and a $7.6 million Home Depot store on Mahoning Avenue moved the total valuation for construction so far this year to nearly $37 million.
Michael P. Kurilla Jr., township zoning inspector, said that the township's highest year between 1994 and 2004 had been 1998 at $32.8 million.
"We've been working on the school project for probably a year and a half with the planners, the developers and the various county and state agencies,"he said. "Home Depot has been in the works for about a year and due to circumstance, we issued them both the same day."
Last year marked a record year for commercial development in the township with $15.9 million. The $7.6 million Home Depot bumps this year's business valuation to about $9.5 million.
About the two buildings
The new middle school will replace the aging Austintown Middle School building on Mahoning Avenue which will close when the new school opens.
The school board met last month and awarded contracts for the project. Bids were about 23 percent under budget.
Hively Construction Co. Inc. of Canfield is the general contractor for the project.
The three-floor, 174,668-square-foot school will house pupils in grades six to eight and have 44 classrooms, about 900 square feet each.
Construction is expected to take 16 to 20 months to complete.
The school board borrowed the money to build the school through a 2.9-mill bond issue approved by voters in November 2003.
Home Depot will locate between Regal Cinema and St. Elizabeth Emergency and Diagnostic Center.
The main store will be 102,513 square feet and the garden center will be 28,086 square feet, making it the largest retail building constructed in the township since 1994 when Wal-Mart opened on Mahoning Avenue.