Plans on track for reserve center project

There’s been some delay due to the federal government shutdown in October, but plans are still on track for development of the former U.S. Army Reserve Center property in Reno into offices and light manufacturing space as well as a veterans memorial park.

“There’s still a process that the GSA (Government Services Agency) in Washington, D.C., has to go through in order to turn the property over to the (Southeastern Ohio) Port Authority, but we’ll definitely be seeing some movement on that property this year,” said local businessman Greg Smith, who’s working with Mark A. Mondo and Companies on the development.

David Haas, secretary-treasurer for the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority, said the proposal is currently working its way through the GSA and Congress.

“We’re waiting on final approval from the GSA,” he said. “When we went to the GSA office in Washington last month and explained the proposal, they were interested and wanted to move it along quickly.”

He said once GSA’s approval is secured, the proposal moves through Congress for a final OK before the reserve center property can be deeded to the port authority, which will then work with Mondo on development of the Reno facility.

“We’re hoping to be able to start that work later this year,” Haas said.

The GSA had declared the reserve center excess property more than a year ago, making the site available to other local governmental agencies, but there were no takers. So the quasi-governmental port authority, working with the GSA, began seeking a private sector partnership to purchase and develop the property.

“The port authority had no money to purchase property, that’s why we needed a partner to get this accomplished,” said Tom Webster, president of the port authority.

Last June the port authority heard proposals from two entities interested in developing the reserve center property, including Mondo and MPR Alliance, a joint venture between MPR Supply Chain Solutions of Bellaire, and Promanco Inc. of Marietta.

MPR Alliance proposed developing a transload facility along a former lock wall on the Ohio River at the lower end of the reserve property which is located in Reno between Ohio 7 and the river.

Barges carrying aggregate materials and pipe needed to construct oil and gas wellpads would be unloaded and placed on trucks at the Reno site for transport to drilling sites north of this area.

In July the port authority decided to partner with Mondo who planned to renovate the U.S. Army Reserve building for use as office or light manufacturing space, with job creation as one of the goals, Webster said.

The plans also included community use of the renovated building, as well as development of a public veterans memorial area near the river side of the property.

Webster said Mondo’s cost for the property is $550,000, and a 10 percent down payment has already been made, with the balance due at closing with the GSA.

“Once the deed comes through, for the next three years there will be a ‘blackout period’ which means we can’t lease, sell, or do anything that would generate more than $550,000 in revenue without the GSA’s approval,” he said. “After that the property becomes totally locally controlled.”

But work on the property can begin as soon as the port authority receives the deed, Webster said.

“We’ll start as soon as possible. The first plan of business will be to renovate the old reserve center building,” he said. “And work on the veterans memorial site could begin this spring.”

Webster said the port authority is conservatively estimating work on the property will be able to start in March of this year, although GSA officials have indicated the deed could be in the SEOPA’s hands as early as February.

In addition to the reserve center property renovation, Mondo is also working on another yet-to-be-announced project along the Ohio River in Boaz, W.Va.

Details on that project are expected to be released in about a month, Smith said.