The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 6, 2013

Real estate firm wants to market industrial park

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — The city of Conneaut may seek expert help in marketing its East Conneaut Industrial Park.

Gary Pape, of Howard Hanna real estate company, attended Monday night’s City Council finance/ordinance committee meeting to offer his services. Council learned City Manager Tim Eggleston — who was absent — wants to gauge their interest in an agent such as Pape to promote the 60 acres-plus park bisected by East Main Road.

Howard Hanna already represents several commercial properties in town, including the Cleveland Hotel, Pape said. The company could feature the industrial park on any number of website and Internet locations, he said.

Finance Director John Williams said there has been some “cursory interest in the property locally,” but a national real estate firm touting the land could be “beneficial for the city.”

Howard Hanna would not charge the city anything to list the industrial park, but would expect a 10 percent brokerage fee upon sale, Pape said. The company would prefer a two-year contract, but would settle for one year, he said. The company would need about a month to gear up its campaign, which would include signs placed prominently along highways, Pape said.

Ward 3 Councilman Richard McBride asked if the city would need to bid out any deal for real estate marketing services. Law Director David Schroeder said he would research the issue.

Last year, the city completed a $1.1 million upgrade to the park that included utility expansions and the creation of an access road, Innovation Parkway. Federal development money helped finance the work.

In other development news, council was leery of an offer to feature Conneaut on a national “communities of distinction” video. The city would pay upwards of $20,000 to participate in the program, officials have said.Some council members said they saw the value in such national exposure, but indicated the price tag was just too high for the cash-strapped city.

“The timing is bad for this community,” McBride said. “I just don’t see the return (for the investment).”

Ward 1 Councilman Doug Hedrick, chairman of council’s economic development committee, said the city must expect to pay for promotion. “The stark reality is marketing costs money,” he said.