Summit DD plans expansion as part of relocation to Cuyahoga Falls
A total of 130 jobs expected to come to Second Street site by 2022
CUYAHOGA FALLS — As part of its upcoming relocation from Tallmadge to Cuyahoga Falls, the Summit County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Summit DD) is now planning a building expansion that will bring another 30 jobs to the city.
The expansion comes a year after City Council approved a development agreement with Summit DD in conjunction with the county board's plan to move its headquarters from Howe Road in Tallmadge to its building in Cuyahoga Falls at 2355 Second St. That relocation is expected to bring about 100 jobs to Cuyahoga Falls, according to the city's Community Development Director, Diana Colavecchio.
Summit DD is now planning to construct a 7,000 square foot addition to its existing 15,800-square-foot building on Second Street, a move that will bring in 30 more jobs, Colavecchio told city council during its community development committee meeting on Monday.
She added the project is “super exciting for our city.”
John Trunk, superintendent of Summit DD, said his organization is planning to start construction in spring of 2021 and hopes to have all 130 employees relocated from the Howe Road site in Tallmadge to the Cuyahoga Falls building by spring of 2022.
Overall, a total of 130 new jobs and $8.1 million in added payroll will come to Cuyahoga Falls when the project is finished. The city will receive about $163,000 in annual new income taxes from the additional jobs, according to Colavecchio.
Trunk said Summit DD's Second Street building in Cuyahoga Falls has been in existence for about a dozen years.
"That building … has gone through a lot of changes, a lot of mandates at the federal and state level that have resulted in that building being almost vacant," said Trunk.
He noted he and his staff anticipated those changes about four to five years ago and began working on a strategic plan that included repurposing the Falls building. Part of this process involved speaking with city leaders, which has led to the expansion plan at the Second Street site.
Trunk said his agency has hired an architect to work on the re-design of the existing building and the design of the new structure.
For the plan to move forward, council must approve authorizing the mayor to enter an amended economic development and lease agreement with Summit DD. The deal calls for the mayor to transfer property at 2361 Second St. to Summit DD, enter a purchase agreement with Anthony Mandato for his property at 2365 Second St., and grant a future access easement to Summit DD that will be used for added expansion, construction, parking, ingress and egress.
Council is scheduled to vote on the amended deal with Summit DD on Monday, Sept. 28.
Colavecchio said the city will buy the house at 2365 Second St. from Mandato for $155,000 and transfer ownership of 2361 Second St. to Summit DD. 2361 Second St. is “immediately adjacent” to the Summit DD building, said Colavecchio. She added both of these actions are needed “to accommodate [Summit DD's] addition.”
Council member Meika Marie Penta (D-3) said expanding the facility will help the businesses downtown.
"I'm very happy to see that the growth is even beyond what was initially brought to us before," said Penta.
Along with bringing in 130 new jobs, a new parking lot will be built that will provide parking to Summit DD employees during the day on weekdays and to the public on evenings and weekends.
When council approved the initial development agreement with Summit DD last year, Colavecchio said the city, "purchased several parcels, primarily consisting of the Fred Amir Auto World property on Front Street, which included two rental properties that Mr. Amir owned on Wadsworth [Avenue]. We also purchased a house …at 2361 Second St. and our intention is to [demolish] all of those buildings …and construct a public parking lot for …our Summit DD employees …[to] use during work hours, but then …would be used by our patrons for our downtown businesses during the evenings and on weekends.”
Colavecchio said the city is hoping to have the 155-space parking lot completed by late spring or early summer in 2021.
Council member Russ Balthis (D-At Large) said he felt the project was "so great for the city on so many levels."
"The economic impact and the jobs for our community are very, very meaningful," said Balthis. "…The additional parking I can tell you as someone who lives [downtown] is incredibly needed to support our businesses."
He added that Summit DD is an "amazing" and an "incredible" organization that provides "important services" to people throughout the county.
Council member Jeff Iula (R-At Large) said it was "great" for Summit DD to bring more than 100 employees to the downtown.
"We are going to make Front Street so great again," said Iula. "I think it's so super to have the whole thing down there."
Summit DD's leader echoed the excitement of the council members.
"We are really excited about expanding our presence in Cuyahoga Falls," said Trunk. "You have been a great neighbor of ours and have welcomed not only us as a board, but you are a very welcoming community to all the citizens that live there that have developmental disabilities, and they're very proud to call it home."
Future of Tallmadge location
There are currently 275 employees who are assigned to Summit DD's Tallmadge location on Howe Road, according to Russell DuPlain, director of information technology and facilities at Summit DD. He emphasized that most of those employees meet with people served by the organization at community locations and do not actually work in the building.
"At minimum, we know there will be 130 [full-time employees] assigned to the Cuyahoga Falls location and the rest will be distributed between the Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton locations as our design plans are more finalized," stated DuPlain.
Once the relocation of employees is finished, Summit DD will no longer operate from the Tallmadge site, said DuPlain, who added that a sale of the property is being eyed.
"We continue to work with the county and city of Tallmadge for our Tallmadge campus," said DuPlain. "It is our plan to sell the Tallmadge campus and [we] are exploring options to divide it into four parcels. It's too early to speculate on what will happen with those parcels, but …the county has expressed an interest in two of the four parcels."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.