2 suitors for Army Reserve Center share their visions

Members of the public and Southeastern Ohio Port Authority on Tuesday heard presentations from two businesses on proposed development of the 17-acre former Washington County U.S. Army Reserve Center property along Ohio 7 in Reno.

“The GSA (U.S. General Services Administration) has declared the Reserve center as excess property,” explained Tom Webster, president of the SEOPA, adding that the declaration opened the property for use by other government agencies.

“Only two public entities were interested in the property-the Washington County commissioners, and the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority,” he said.

Webster said the commissioners had originally considered the site as a potential location for the county’s new Emergency Operations Center, but that project is now underway at the Childrens Services Building on Davis Avenue in Marietta, which left the reserve center in SEOPA’s hands.

The property includes the main reserve center building which contains office and meeting space, a kitchen area, and an indoor firing range. Webster said the main building is in relatively good shape, but other smaller structures behind the main facility were not in as good condition.

The reserve property extends from Ohio 7 to the Ohio River and is adjacent to the East Lawn Memorial Park and Valley Cemetery.

Webster said the authority has no money to purchase the property, so the board members determined a public/private partnership would be needed to move forward with any development, and a request for proposals from private entities was advertised.

Two business entities-Mondo Building and Excavating of Reno, and MPR Alliance, a joint venture between MPR Supply Chain Solutions of Bellaire, and Promanco Inc. of Marietta-presented proposals for development of the property Tuesday.

Local businessman Greg Smith worked with Mondo owner Mark Mondo on his development proposal, which includes renovation of the property into office and light manufacturing space as well as a veterans memorial park on the northern half of the property.

Smith noted the property includes a primary upper section where the current reserve center buildings are located, and a secondary lower area that’s situated within the flood plain.

He said the primary section could be developed immediately into business park facilities, as well as the veterans memorial, but the secondary area would be more of a long-term development to be completed in conjunction with the SEOPA and local community’s input.

Mondo said no public monies would be used for the development and 10 percent of proceeds realized from the property development and future revenues would go to help support the port authority’s efforts.

No price has been set for the property by GSA at this time, but in his presentation for Mondo Smith tossed out a rough estimate of around $400,000. He added that the SEOPA could realize $900,000 in potential revenues from the development, and the community could benefit to the tune of $2.8 million from the SEOPA and Mondo partnership.

Smith said the development could result in the creation of 80 to 100 jobs.

The MPR Alliance proposal was presented by MPR Supply Chain Solutions President and CEO Rick Frio and Rick Coley with Promanco.

Frio said the companies proposed to develop a transload facility along a former lock wall on the Ohio River at the lower end of the property. He said MPR already has an operation in Bellaire that provides support for the growing oil and natural gas shale industry.

He said barges carrying stone, slag and other aggregate materials needed to construct oil and gas wellpads are unloaded at the Bellaire facility and trucked to well sites in Ohio and West Virginia.

Frio and Coley envision similar facilities that would be located on the reserve center property in Reno, where barges carrying aggregates, pipe and other materials could be loaded for transport south, or off-loaded onto trucks for transport to drilling sites and other facilities in the north.

“It’s all about location,” Frio said. “We want to take advantage of the limited riverfront space that’s available in this area.”

He said the business would not only create jobs, but also value for the community.

Coley said an added benefit is that Promanco would have plenty of storage space available for transload facility customers at the former Kardex complex located across Ohio 7 from the reserve center property.

MPR Alliance would pay for the property development with private funds and would possibly consider applying for grant funding if any is available.

“The reserve center property has been vacant for a decade or two now, so we knew it was available and is an opportunity for use by the community, so the board made the decision to get involved,” said Terry Tamburini, executive director of SEOPA.

He noted the authority already has a presence in the Reno area with the $2.2 million Ingenuity Center business incubator facility under construction along Ohio 7 in the Seven North Business Park.

Tamburini said it’s hoped that development of the reserve center property will create jobs and be a complement to the Ingenuity Center, but also preserve the integrity of the Reno community.

Following Tuesday’s presentations, he said the SEOPA board would make a decision on which business the authority wants to partner with in the proposed development.

Webster said the SEOPA is currently awaiting an appraisal of the property and an acceptable price from the GSA. He said once a suitable price is agreed upon, the purchase will have to be approved by the U.S. Congress.

Tamburini expects the entire process could take three or four months.