By Sean Barron
The Mahoning County Planning Commission has approved an assembly of parcels, clearing the final hurdle to build a thoroughbred racetrack and casino that could mean close to 2,000 jobs.
It is hoped site-preparation for The Hollywood Slots at Mahoning Valley Race Course racino, to be on nearly 194 acres between state Routes 46 and 11 near Interstate 80, will begin next month, with a targeted completion of spring 2014, Norm Nelms said after Tuesday’s planning-commission meeting.
Nelms, vice president of design and construction for Wyomissing, Pa.-based Penn National Gaming Inc., said the business is relocating the racino from Beulah Park, a facility it owns in Grove City, Ohio, near Columbus, to the Centerpointe property in Austintown.
Last April, Penn National paid about $4.6 million for the land and is spending roughly $250 million to relocate the racino. That includes a $50 million licensing fee, he noted.
The facility will have three shifts and employ 800 to 1,000 full-time workers; in addition, 800 to 900 construction jobs will be created, Nelms said.
The building will be about 100,000 square feet and also feature a 50,000-square-foot gaming area. Also included will be about 150 indoor seats as well as a food-court area and sports bar on a mezzanine level that will overlook the 1-mile track and gaming floor, Nelms explained.
“We’re glad to bring this project to the Mahoning Valley area,” added Matthew E. Ferris, president of Columbus-based E.P. Ferris and Associates Inc., which is providing civil engineering for onsite and offsite improvements.
Earlier Tuesday, Mahoning County commissioners viewed the site, which will have a new, slightly angled right-of-way to the racino on nearly 1 acre the county bought. That road eventually will align with Silica Road to the west, but should not affect Route 46 traffic, explained Michael M. Stipetich, construction- design engineer with the Mahoning County Engineer’s office.
The right-of-way likely will be about 100 feet wide, he added.
During their meeting Tuesday, commissioners passed a resolution to vacate and/or alter more than 3,000 feet of nearby Lanterman Road, which was never built and exists on paper.
Commissioners also had a public hearing to gauge people’s reactions to the road vacation and racino.
Supporting the project were Darren Crivelli, Austintown Township zoning inspector, and county Commissioner-elect David Ditzler. Crivelli noted that Lanterman Road will be renamed.
Expressing opposition was a woman who lives near the racino location, who said she was concerned the facility and related work might negatively impact the nearby water table and flood plain, and that the area is too congested for a racino.