Youngstown redevelopment must take many forms
The ongoing hubbub of redevelopment in Youngstown -- the likes of which has not been seen in many decades -- continues to advance in many forms. To wit:
In downtown, next month's opening of the $45 million Youngstown Convocation Center will serve as a centerpiece for myriad other redevelopment projects that have included the reopening of Central Square, construction and renovation of office, arts and office buildings and the opening of several new restaurants and nightclubs.
The private non-profit WIck Neighbors group, in concert with the city, continues planning for a $250 million project to reshape and re-energize the Smoky Hollow-Wick Avenue district on the North Side. On the drawing board are 500 townhouses, condominiums, single-family homes and apartments; commercial and retail space; senior citizen housing; and office space. Officials look for construction to begin next year.
The broad-based community developed road map for improvements throughout the city -- Youngstown 2010 -- continues to evolve. The plan seeks to decrease the city's heavy industrial areas, create more green space and improve neighborhoods in all wards of the city.
Such large-scale projects as these are critical because they provide a bedrock foundation for revitalization that reaches every sector of the community. But the overall renewal of Youngstown cannot hinge exclusively on such mega-projects. That's why it is encouraging to see smaller, private groups take the reins to clean up and fix up their own segments of the city.
A fitting example of such enterprise is the group of business owners seeking a renaissance for Andrews Avenue. Owners of Fireline at 300, Dutch Auto Body, City Machine Technologies and Connell. are spearheading the Andrews Avenue Industrial Parkway project.
Lest you think this once-mighty industrial thoroughfare had lost all of its lustre, think again. Company owners on the targeted portion of the street employ 700 people and pay $500,000 in property taxes and $500,000 in payroll taxes each year. Some of the businesses show strong growth potential.
Despite such success, Andrews Avenue has long shown disturbing signs of the general industrial decline of the city that is visible in its abandoned dilapidated buildings, overgrown brush and other eyesores.
Companies in this private partnership rightly believe that appearances do count if their hoped for growth is to gain steam. That's why they've taken it upon themselves to improve landscaping, plant trees and make other physical improvements, such as installing new siding to businesses. They also hope to improve the appearances of vacant structures in the neighborhood.
Their initiatives fall in line with advice urban planners have long given on rejuvenating urban areas: Successful redevelopment rests with aggressive, concrete efforts by both public and private sectors. The good works of the Andrews Avenue group not only complement larger redevelopment projects by other public and publicly funded groups, they also serve as models and incentives for other businesses and individcuals in every quadrant of the city.