Boardman School Board sends CRA contract to county commissioners for approval

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If commissioners approve the contract for a Community Reinvestment Area, a new entertainment section of the Southern Park Mall could become property tax free

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Boardman School Board voted to approve the contract language to create a community reinvestment area (CRA) for the new, designated entertainment section of the Southern Park Mall that could eventually lead to a tax abatement for the project only, and not the entire mall.

The area is occupied by the now-demolished Sears store. It would come with no property taxes for no longer than 15 years.

Before the board voted Monday night, two men spoke, urging them to vote no.

“To forgo 15 years of real estate taxes for a private developer that should be able to stand on its own? If it’s a viable project it should not have public funding, that’s crony capitalism,” said Boardman resident Carl Rafoth.

Boardman resident Roger Mirallia said downtown Youngstown already has an entertainment district and wondered if Mahoning County could support another.

“Why do they think they’re going to bring something up here that can basically compete with that? Even with that downtown, they’re not making tons of money down there over it, so why should we basically make a mistake in doing that?” Mirallia said.

When it came time to vote on the reinvestment area, there was no discussion among the board.

The board unanimously passed the language, sending it to the Mahoning County commissioners for approval.

After the meeting, Boardman School Board President Jeff Barone spoke for the board, saying tax abatements these days are the cost of doing business.

“Let’s face it. Companies like this are not putting $30 million into malls, enclosed malls. This is an opportunity to create a community center and for that reason, we’re very excited,” Barone said.

The final decision on the reinvestment area rests with the Mahoning County commissioners, who are expected to vote before year’s end.

The Southern Park Mall is owned by the Columbus-based Washington Prime Group, which is in the process of building a series of bars, restaurants and entertainment facilities at the southern end of the mall.

It’ll be called the DeBartolo Commons and is expected to be open by the fall of next year.

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