|By Karl Henkel, Vindicator, Youngstown,
OhioMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 01, 2012--NILES -- Eastwood Mall, at more than 3 million square feet, already is the largest shopping complex in America.
Those 432 million square inches may soon feel a little more crowded.
The Cafaro Co., owners of the mall, said Tuesday that preliminary discussions are under way to build an 85,000-square-foot, four-story, 100-suite, nationally branded hotel at the mall at 5555 Youngstown-Warren Road.
The proposed facility would be near Dillard's.
An adjacent 24,000-square-foot banquet and conference center would accommodate meetings and social events.
"This is large enough that we could accommodate up to 1,000 people," said Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for Cafaro. "It really is something that other facilities nearby just don't have."
Local business leaders applauded the hotel proposal.
"The level of hotel being planned will be a significant asset to businesses and the community at large," said Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.
"The size of the conference center fills a long-sought need in the county, and having the whole complex next to a shopping center is certainly a plus for everyone as well."
Bell said that contract negotiations are not yet finalized -- there are a couple of technical and financial issues to "iron out," he said -- but that the facility has an anticipated opening of early 2013.
"We hope it will happen very shortly," he said. "It could happen in a matter of weeks."
Bell said the cost of the hotel and conference center is not yet known.
The hotel would be the 28th in Trumbull County, according to the county auditor's office.
The Trumbull County Convention & Visitors Bureau said there are between 1,700 and 1,900 hotel rooms in the county and that the hotel, in conjunction with the conference center, will be a much needed addition.
Cafaro is seeking an operator for the banquet and conference center.
It said it would prefer a Mahoning Valley-based company.
Each guest room will have a kitchen that includes full-size appliances -- conveniences the company says are revered by extended-stay business travelers and families traveling with children.
The proposed hotel will feature a full breakfast buffet, indoor swimming pool and an exercise facility, the company said.
Eastwood Mall is considered the largest shopping center in America, according to the Directory of Major Malls.
In addition to the enclosed mall with about 130 te nants, the Eastwood complex includes five other centers with an additional 14 anchor stores, 20 theater screens, more than 30 eateries, an Expo Center, a hotel and a minor-league baseball stadium.
(c)2012 Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio)
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