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YOUNGSTOWN 5-year plan for downtown beginning to take shape



Published: Fri, June 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The proposed downtown plan must pass through several layers of bureaucracy before it's final.

By ROGER G. SMITH

CITY HALL REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- If most elements in the proposed five-year downtown plan sound familiar, they should.

In fact, the document was designed that way.

A draft emerging Thursday from a committee of downtown's redevelopment agency doesn't contain any shocking ideas or projects that observers haven't heard about before.

The five-page outline largely draws on the many studies done and ideas floated the past few years concerning downtown, said Jim Miller. He guided the plan's development as a member of the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp.'s property committee.

"It was a lot of effort by a lot of people," he said.

The document outlines 10 aspects of downtown that CIC wants to address.

Future of buildings: The future of about two dozen CIC-owned buildings takes up nearly half the report. The plan essentially follows the ideas that have been talked about for at least a year.

That means securing a few of the empty buildings and saving them for development. The rest would be demolished.

Other parts of the plan focus on bringing more arts and entertainment venues to downtown, such as events and restaurants. Another element is working with Youngstown State University, including evaluating whether residential housing for students and others is feasible.

Steady work: The base for the plan originated under a previous CIC director in 1999 and stalled when he left, said Alden Chevlen, executive director. The agency has been working steadily on the latest plan for about nine months, he said.

Now is the right time to settle on a plan, Chevlen said, because downtown's immediate future is coming into focus.

The future includes demolishing many CIC buildings, a new city municipal court, space for the 7th District Court of Appeals and possibly moving county agencies downtown, such as children services and the board of elections, he said.

Funding question: Chevlen and many others acknowledge, however, that funding for all those potential projects remains a huge question mark.

The draft approved Thursday goes to the agency's full board, which could vote on the plan next week.

If the CIC board gives approval, the plan must go to a pubic hearing and get the city planning board's approval, said Bill D'Avignon, deputy director of planning. The plan also would go before the city Design Review Committee, he said.

Finally, city council would need a public hearing and vote on adopting the plan, D'Avignon said.

rgsmith@vindy.com




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