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Shipyard eyes Lordstown for support site

Plan is to build service, equipment depot in village

A Broadview Heights company is proposing Lordstown’s Ohio Commerce Center as the site for a 1 million-square-foot naval supply, equipment and service depot to support a new shipyard it wants to locate in Lorain.

The 476-acre manufacturing and warehouse complex on Tod Avenue, because of its closeness to the Ohio Turnpike and Interstates 76 and 80 and its access to rail, is ideal for what is being called the American Naval Depot, which according to project developer Bartlett Maritime Corporation, would also eventually come to service other U.S. naval operations.

The center contains a spur to the CSX National Rail Gateway, which connects Baltimore to Chicago and then points west, as well as a local spur to the Norfolk Southern Rail Network.

“The equipment that will be serviced in Lordstown will be components, parts, assemblies, pumps, valves, hydraulic power plants, electronic controlled systems, you name it, and other components like, for instance, propeller shafts,” said Ed Bartlett, founder, president and CEO of Bartlett Maritime and a former U.S. Navy captain.

Bartlett said Friday the Lordstown site would create about 1,000 permanent jobs while the proposed American Naval Shipyard in Lorain, according to project documents, would have two drydocks and employ 2,000 to 3,000.

Lordstown would be designed with growth in mind, Bartlett said, to eventually service the other of the Navy’s public shipyards and Lorain.

“Each of these shipyards bring in nuclear-powered ships, aircraft carriers and submarines to do overhauls and when the ship is brought in, major items of equipment are removed from the ship and separately those items or systems are overhauled at some central location or in the back shops at the existing shipyard or at vendors, and the idea for the Lordstown facility is to create a geographically central, thereabouts, relatively geographically central location within the United States where we can do all that work for all five naval shipyards.”

Bartlett Maritime’s proposal would need approval from the Navy. The plan would include a public / private partnership through existing legislation that allows for capital financing to build the facilities, Bartlett said.

The Navy would lease from Bartlett Maritime and own the facilities after 30 years. Goldman Sachs has been brought on as financial adviser.

Bartlett said the program is ready to start immediately and if the Navy greenlights phase one, which is a six-month planning and detailed preparation phase, a ceremonial groundbreaking would be ready for both sites in October.

The Lordstown site could be operational in two years and Lorain, where four locations along the Black River are being considered, would be three to four years, Bartlett said.

Dan Crouse, who specializes in commercial and industrial real estate for Platz Realty, confirmed discussions between commerce center operators and Bartlett. He would not discuss details around those talks.

“Have we had discussions? Yes. Would we be happy to have them? Yes. But what exactly we can do, that we can’t talk about,” Crouse said.

“We have the land available to him, we have the rail that will work for him. Could he break ground in the fall, I supposed he could,” Crouse said.

On Thursday, the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO and Bartlett Maritime signed a cooperation agreement supporting the implementation of the Bartlett Maritime plan.

The partnership will provide the company with support to promote the proposal and to ramp up hiring and training the new workforce at the company’s Lorain shipyard.

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