By Ed Runyan
The Western Reserve Port Authority has authorized its executive director to finalize terms of a project that will help Southern Park Mall acquire up to $4 million for roofing and lighting improvements.
The purpose of the federal Property Assessed Clean Energy bond project is to provide businesses and homeowners with a way to acquire and repay funds used to become more energy efficient.
The mall and Boardman Township are expected to complete the financing part of the project by the end of the year. Simon Properties would repay the money through assessments on its property taxes over about 15 years.
It requires the township to approve the creation of an Energy Special Improvement District, and that is expected to happen sometime in November, said Rose Ann DeLeon, executive director of the port authority.
Pam Ferguson, general manager of Southern Park Mall, said Simon Properties will use about $3 million to replace the roof over the common area of the mall with one that is better insulated. That work is likely to begin in the spring.
Additional funds will be used to upgrade interior lighting fixtures with more energy-efficient LED units.
The mall, which employs about 3,000 people plus seasonal workers, has made about $8 million worth of upgrades over the past three years, Ferguson said.
The 43-year-old mall also may get updated heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units in the coming years with PACE funds.
One of the reasons the PACE program is attractive is that it allows the user to finance 100 percent of the project rather than use part cash and because of the repayment terms, DeLeon said.
The port authority board also approved a resolution allowing DeLeon to complete the lease of new office space at 236 North Champion Street in Youngstown for DeLeon’s economic development unit.
She and her assistant, Sarah Lown, currently have about 250 square feet of space in the Youngstown Business Incubator, but the incubator needs the space for other entities, DeLeon said.
The new space is on the first floor, about 2,000 square feet and near the main branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. It has its own parking, a conference room, and space out front for a sign.
The incubator space is on an upper floor and costs $145 per month. The new space will cost $833 per month.
Dan Mamula with the Mahoning Valley River Corridor Initiative, the port’s brownfield partner, will have an office there, and the port authority will be able to have meetings and events there, DeLeon said.
Rick Schiraldi, a port authority board member, recused himself from voting on the lease because of business dealings with the company that owns the building.
The port authority expects to move into the new offices by the end of the year.