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Liberty anticipating economic growth from abatements

Published: Sat, March 16, 2013 @ 12:07 a.m.

By danny restivo



Township officials said businesses are showing interest in the area along Belmont Avenue now that the Ohio Department of Development has approved the township’s Community Reinvestment Program.

Patrick J. Ungaro, township administrator, said he believes business activity in the area from Gypsy Lane to Tibbetts-Wick Road will create an opportunity to cultivate economic growth throughout the area. Ungaro said he’s been marketing the area to several investors but did not disclose who.

“I’m already having a lot of dialogue with several business who are intrigued by what we’re doing,” he said.

The resolution allows the township to offer tax incentives to businesses along Belmont Avenue, from Gypsy Lane to Tibbetts-Wick Road. The incentives include 50-percent tax abatements for 10 years on commercial and residential properties with remodeling costs of $5,000 or more.

Ungaro said some retailers are looking at the old Kmart location, Liberty Plaza and the former Antone’s Restaurant.

“From Goldie Road to Tibbetts-Wick, we are seeing strong activity,” said Ungaro. who envisions a home- improvement store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot moving into the area.

Ungaro said the area is appealing to commerce because of its proximity to Interstate 80. This, along with sewer and water infrastructure, makes the township a prime location for prospective investors, he added.

The community reinvestment area, which was approved by the department of development Feb. 28, is an economic-development tool administered by county governments that allows for property-tax exemptions to business investing in Ohio.

In August, the township hired MS Consultants, a multifaceted consulting firm in Youngstown, to research a proposed community reinvestment area. The company surveyed the economic and housing conditions along Belmont Avenue and compared them to the rest of the area.

MS Consultants concluded “the township is seeing a decrease in population, housing units, and an increase in vacancy at greater rates than the surrounding community.”

Ungaro said the findings were a prime factor in the township’s pushing for the reinvestment area.

The development department website lists community reinvestment areas in Lordstown, Brookfield, Niles, Warren, McDonald and Youngstown.

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