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Port works to acquire old RG Steel property

WARREN — BDM Warren Steel Holdings LLC, which owns the land where the old Republic Steel plant once sat, wants to donate it to the Western Reserve Port Authority.

“We just need to be comfortable with how much property is involved. We need to be comfortable that we are able to take care of whatever potential liabilities that could come up with this,” port authority CEO John Moliterno said.

“We’re not sure if there are any yet, but that is what we are working on right now,” he said.

On Wednesday, the port authority board authorized Moliterno to negotiate an agreement with BDM for the port authority to accept the nearly 1,000-acre plot that stretches nearly 2 miles along Pine Avenue SE and includes portions of Warren, Niles, Howland and Warren Township.

“We only see good things that could potentially happen at that site,” Moliterno said. “JobsOhio is extremely excited about it being one of the larger potential developable sites in the state of Ohio.”

“I think it’s an opportunity for the community to turn an old steel site into developable property and jobs,” Moliterno said.

JobsOhio is the state’s private, nonprofit economic development agency.

Charles J. Betters of C.J. Betters Enterprises, who headed the group that purchased the mill in 2012, did not return a message seeking comment.

Earlier this year, an affiliate of Megojoule Ventures, an energy storage and energy storage sector investment company that is part of BRITE Energy Innovators in Warren, purchased the former Republic Steel office building at 999 Pine Ave. SE for $750,000.

Megajoule is redeveloping the building for product development and additional space for other companies affiliated with BRITE, Megajoule President Herb Crowther has said publicly.

The office building is immediately adjacent to the former steelmaking site the port authority will control that for more than 100 years churned out steel, starting with Trumbull Steel Co.

Republic Steel assumed the name of the mill in 1930 and merged with LTV in 1984, but two years later, the company filed bankruptcy. The Renco Group Inc. bought the mill and renamed it Warren Consolidated Industries Inc., or WCI.

Over the coming years, WCI filed bankruptcy, from which it emerged in 2003, and sold the mill to OAO Severstal in 2008.

RG Steel LLC, a new entity of the Renco Group, bought the mill in 2011. In September 2012, RG Steel declared bankruptcy, leaving 1,200 employees out of work. BDM Warren Steel Holdings bought the mill later that year and started looking for a new buyer, but with no buyers in sight, it auctioned parts of the mill in spring 2013 and began tearing down buildings and started to market the land.

The blast furnace, the last remaining blast furnace in Trumbull and Mahoning counties, was torn down in 2017.

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