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City hires firms to tie downtown area to YSU



Published: Fri, June 24, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The plans should be done in eight to 12 weeks.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The city hired two firms Thursday to develop urban renewal plans for two key sections of Youngstown that will help tie the downtown area to Youngstown State University.

The board of control approved a contract, with the cost not to exceed $48,500, with D.B. Hartt Inc. of Cleveland and MS Consultants of Youngstown to have the firms develop plans for the area on and near Lincoln and Rayen avenues and Wood Street, and the Wick District-Smoky Hollow area. Hartt and MS prepared the community development plan for the city's convocation center.

The firms will evaluate the two areas -- including buildings, parking lots, landscaping, signs, fences, guardrails, roads and driveways -- to determine where there is blight and deteriorated conditions, and provide comprehensive recommendations to take care of those problems. The firms will also suggest potential uses for property in the two areas.

The plans should be finished in eight to 12 weeks.

The city is working in cooperation with YSU and Wick Neighbors Inc., a nonprofit organization working to redevelop the Wick District-Smoky Hollow area.

Because the city wants to continue fostering cooperation with YSU, it will fully fund the plans, Mayor George M. McKelvey said. These plans are part of the Youngstown 2010 Land Use Plan, the city's guiding document for development.

Involvement of the city benefits all parties, said city Finance Director David Bozanich, because the municipality can buy property and provide tax-exempt financing to those interested in developing in the two areas.

Business school

The recommendations given by the two companies will help bring YSU and the city's downtown closer together, McKelvey said. YSU plans to build its new Williamson College of Business Administration in the Lincoln/Rayen/Wood area.

McKelvey envisions a stepway to the west of the Erie Terminal that would permit easy access to and from downtown and YSU.

"You want to break down the barrier between the" city and YSU, he said. "The stepway would be an entryway to the downtown. There is still a barrier, perceived or real, for students to link YSU to downtown. We're moving from the conceptual phase and making this a reality."

A new state-of-the-art Williamson College of Business will attract business students to YSU, Bozanich said. Having the college on the edge of the city's downtown will entice companies to come to Youngstown to partner with the university, Bozanich said.

The proposals won't be implemented overnight, city officials say, but having a plan is a vital step in moving along the development process.

Once the plans are finished, the firms will have as many as four meetings with the city's planning commission and/or city council to discuss the recommendations.




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