Ohio company acquires Shenango Valley Mall

HERMITAGE, Pa. — A Cleveland-area property development company has acquired the Shenango Valley Mall, the shopping center in the heart of Hermitage, Pa.’s central business district that figures to play a key role in the city’s town center project.

The deal between Butterfli Holdings 011 LLC, an affiliate of Pepper Pike-based Flicore LLC, and GMF 23 LLC finalized Aug. 5, but terms were not disclosed.

GMF 23 LLC is a company that’s comprised of the descendants of George F. McConnell, who purchased the land in 1945, said attorney William G. McConnell Jr., who represented the company.

“The mall property that we sold consists of 50 acres, but when he bought it in 1945, he bought a farm that consisted of 220 acres and comprised what is most of the present-day city center of the city of Hermitage,” McConnell said Thursday.

In 1966, George McConnell signed a long-term ground lease with a developer who built the mall and in 2019, the family acquired the building, reuniting it with the land under the family ownership, McConnell Jr. said.

In 2017 the mall lost two anchor tenants — Sears and Macy’s — leaving only JC Penney as the large retail presence. JC Penney and GMF 23 LLC have been engaged in a lengthy legal battle over development rights that’s now in an appeal after a judge ruled against the retailer earlier this year.

“What we have been doing is essentially carrying the property in hopes of selling it to a responsible developer that would be able to do something,” McConnell Jr. said .

An official with Flicore LLC could not be reached Thursday.

The company’s website states it acquires, develops and curates “high-quality real estate assets” in North America. The company has developed more than 290 properties and more than 14 million square feet for companies such as Starbucks, SportClips, Raising Cane’s, Sheetz, Aldi, Auto Zone and Chipotle.

The site lists among Flicore’s projects a retail center at Wick and East Rayen avenues that’s part of the Enclave student housing at Youngstown State University.

Flicore’s other Mahoning Valley projects include a Condado Tacos in Boardman, Starbucks stores in Boardman and Canfield and GetGo, SportClips and Chipotle in Canfield.

McConnell said one of the principals with Flicore is Frank Licata, formerly of Akron-based LRC Realty, which had an agreement in 2019 to purchase the mall property, but it fell through. McConnell said Licata also has played a role in other development in Hermitage, including the Walmart on state Route 18 and a Kohl’s department store.

“It’s really a unique opportunity for the city and Shenango Valley to still have this 50-acre parcel in place, and it’s a great location to be able to implement the city’s mixed-use town center plan,” McConnell said.

Gary Gulla, Hermitage’s assistant city manager, said the mall at the busy intersection of state Routes 18 and 62 is prime for upgrades. He said city officials don’t yet know what Flicore has planned for the site but have asked to meet.

A release from the city states the investment in the property is critical to the future of Hermitage. The property, as it is today, “is an underutilized, deteriorating site” that has in its decline with empty storefronts resulted in multiple reappraisals that resulted in more than $240,000 in lost real estate taxes.

The site is at the core of a town center proposal to create a walkable city center with mixed uses and entertainment.

Gulla said Hermitage has secured $3.5 million from the state that can be used for improvements at the mall site and $2 million more, also from Pennsylvania, that can be used toward transportation improvements in the town center area.



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