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Port seeks to acquire more steel property

WARREN — The Western Reserve Port Authority plans to accept 200 or so acres BDM Warren Steel Holdings LLC wants to give away adjacent to the legacy Republic Steel site, but not without having a degree of environmental comfort.

The land is ideal for its potential to connect the site to 825 more acres BDM intends to donate to the port authority to points west, including industrial development and a transportation corridor in Lordstown.

The carve out, however, is the 200 new acres must first clear an initial environmental assessment.

That assessment is happening now, said John Moliterno, port authority CEO, and should be complete within a few weeks.

The land owned is west of the Mahoning River adjacent to the former ArcelorMittal coke plant, now owned by Cleveland-Cliffs.

It creates the opportunity to access state Route 45 and the industrial development in the corridor, the Ohio Turnpike and Interstate 76. Although some surface streets exist, an access road would likely need built.

“By acquiring that site as well, it gives us the access to get to the roads that we need to get to the main arteries, which means that becomes a major access road and a route to the turnpike, to the GM / LG Chem facility and to TJX, and to everything that is out on that site,” Board member Ed Muransky said.

Muransky pushed hardest for the environmental review being tied to acceptance to mitigate the risk to the port if environmental liabilities exist.

“Other than a major smoking gun, I don’t think there is anyone in the room that disagrees with it being a great opportunity for our Valley,” Muranksy said. “I want them to know we approve it. I think it, subject to a smoking gun coming up in phase one that could (lead) to a discussion, that’s all.”

The port authority earlier this year agreed to accept 825 acres from BDM with the intent to redevelop the prime industrial land. Running along Pine Avenue SE, it stretches nearly 2 miles and touches five communities: Warren, Lordstown and Warren, Howland and Weathersfield townships.

It has not legally taken possession of the property yet, but it’s expected by the end of the quarter.

Also 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.

BDM was the last owner. It bought the mill in 2012 and started looking for a new buyer after RG Steel, which acquired the facility just one year prior, went bankrupt. But with no buyers in sight, BDM 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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