Developer talks about changes for Steubenville

GUEST OF ROTARY — Frank Carapellotti, outparcel developer at Franciscan Square in Steubenville, was the guest speaker at Friday’s Steubenville Rotarian meeting. He spoke about recent changes for the square.

STEUBENVILLE — Franco Carapellotti wouldn’t say it was easy convincing big name franchises more concerned about median income and traffic counts than seizing opportunities to locate in Franciscan Square.

“Any franchise we could think of we talked to them,” Carapellotti joked Friday, speaking to Steubenville Rotarians. “I got told no by more restaurants than girls … for dates.”

Carapellotti, outparcel developer at Franciscan Square, said they’d narrowed their list to three potential restaurants before ultimately choosing Bennigan’s, a 40-year-old franchise, as their retail anchor.

“It’s been very exciting to have everything open and operating and see the community’s response,” Carapellotti said. “The community has really rallied behind it.”

The family-owned Fraspada Management Inc. purchased the rights to bring Bennigan’s to Steubenville, as well as to Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The Carapellotti family also operates Brooklyn Bagel on the Square. Several other businesses, including Ruby’s, have settled there as well.

Bennigan’s “was very excited about coming into a small market like ours,” he told Rotarians, adding Franciscan University of Steubenville is driving the project. “I’m in discussions with them now about what their long-term plans are.”

Carapellotti said his focus “is on growing, doing as much as I can to develop things and grow business.”

“We’re in conversations with the University now about what to do up there next, there are a lot of options on the table,” he said. “Long term, you could have office spaces, more retail and, potentially, a meeting center …

“It’s all university driven, but I think the ultimate goal is to see the entire (site) developed.”

He also applauded the community’s support for events like Fridays on Fourth and Nutcracker Village, as well as new businesses including the ones at Franciscan Square.

“Tons of people are committed to this community and want to see it grow,” he added, pointing out Steubenville is being “reinvigorated, re-energized” by young people choosing to live and work in the city.

“The environment that’s being created now is family friendly. People are drawn here to raise kids — our cost of living helps a lot, it’s very affordable here. Now with the square, events downtown, businesses popping up … it’s more appealing.”

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