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Smoky Hollow rebirth

Published: Thu, June 3, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.

An ODNR grant will help pay for the development of Harrison Commons




Mayor Jay Williams spoke on the importance of the proposed Harrison Commons park to the city, Youngstown State University and the Smoky Hollow neighborhood.


Ground was broken on a $400,000 Harrison Commons project at the site of Harrison Field in Smoky Hollow. The new park will feature a plaza and an arbor for plays and concerts.


Ian and Avery Bandy Zalatoris, age 3 and 4 respectively, have some fun at Harrison Field on North Walnut Street in Youngstown before a groundbreaking ceremony at the field marking the start of the construction of Harrison Commons, which will be a focal point of the Smoky Hollow revitalization project.


Harrison Field was the center stage of the Smoky Hollow neighborhood for decades, so it is perhaps only appropriate the development of Harrison Commons on that same site will be the first project in Smoky Hollow’s rebirth.

Ground was broken on the project Wednesday on North Walnut Street just across from the Youngstown State University parking deck.

The park will feature a brick-paved plaza, an arbor for events such as plays and concerts, and a large historic map of Smoky Hollow. A $396,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will pay for the project, which will be completed in October.

The concept came from Wick Neighbors Inc. in conjunction with YSU and the city of Youngstown as part of a larger plan to revitalize Smoky Hollow into a new residential development.

This is really the start for the work to be done here over the next several years, said Paul Olivier, chairman of Wick Neighbors, addressing about 100 people who turned out for the event.

“It’s a pleasure, after a number of years, to begin this great project,” said David C. Sweet, YSU president. “We had dreamed the impossible dream that today we make possible.”

As the neighborhood looks to the future, it can’t forget what Smoky Hollow was — a close-knit, melting pot community that got its start 100 years ago, said Margaret Murphy, former executive director of Wick Neighbors.

The Rev. John Horner, former pastor of St. John’s Episcopal Church and the founding chairman of Wick Neighbors, said the group formed with a “divine mission,” and that Harrison Commons is “the right project” to launch Smoky Hollow’s revitalization.

It was St. John’s that rallied all the stakeholders to get the movement started, Murphy added.

In 2002, YSU and the religious and cultural institutions along Wick Avenue created Wick Neighbors to develop a plan to revitalize Smoky Hollow.

That plan calls for new streets, sidewalks, curbs and pedestrian pathways, new townhouses, condominiums and homes, commercial and retail space and 10 acres of public green space.

The project has secured $4 million in grants and city assistance to put in new infrastructure to support that development.

Engineering work on that phase is being done now, and construction could begin in about a year.

That will be followed by a phase one housing component that will see 25 housing units built around Harrison Commons, with traditional financing through borrowed funds.

Wick Neighbors is serving as the overall project developer.


1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for the memories. Smokey Hallow is where my grandparents bought their first house after coming here from Europe to work in the steel mills. Unfortunately, they would die again if they were brought back to see what has happened to the Youngstown they knew and loved. How long do you think it will take for the Y-town gangstas to destroy this new project once it's completed? Within weeks it will be destryed.

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2ANTIYOUNGSTOWN(247 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Complete an utter waste of money! Who in their right mind is going to move back to Smokey Hollow?!?!

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3WarrenRicheyKid(167 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

With the addition of the planned townhouses, apartments, condo, and dorms, my grandparents' old neighborhood will be reborn. Save me a condo (or maybe an assisted-living apartment!)! I'm ready as soon as it gets built.

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4goYtown(13 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Wonderful project! Thank you to all the individuals who work so tirelessly to preserve and enrich our community.

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5TylerDurden(367 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

In 99% of the country neighborhoods are created and retail space supported because there is an "economy of scale" present that is growing. The employees create a tax base that sustains the housing and retail markets.

In Youngstown they build the homes and retail space before the leading factors are present, and then wonder aimlessly why the area is subpar.

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6ANTIYOUNGSTOWN(247 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Ok, someone needs to explain to me why anyone in their right mind sees this as a positive step forward. The plan to rebuild Smokey Hollow involves building condos, townhouses, and residences that will sell for $150-250 thousand dollars correct? Who do they plan on buying these properties when the median income of a Youngstown resident is $40,000? Does anybody really think someone is going to move from the "burbs" to the "Hollow"? Where would the kids go to school? East? Chaney? Where would anybody shop? The closest grocery store is in Liberty or up Market Street.

For the amount of money someone could buy a house in Smokey Hollow they could easily buy one in Poland, Boardman, Austintown, or Canfield, and have a safe environment to live, go to school, and shop.

Shouldn't`t Youngstown spend it`s money on schools, razing abandoned properties, streets, anything but a pipe dream of resurrecting a neighborhood that is beyond repair?

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7marilyn99(20 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

I spent many a summer growing up in Smokey Hollow. Then YSU turned it into a football field for it's football players. Now, it's going to be a pavillion. Okay. That sweet old neighborhood can be white washed all you want, it still is surrounded by a exceptionally high crime area no one wants to live near; even the residents in the high crime area want out. Smokey Hollow residents would know no peace or quiet... sirens blare throughout the night up and down Wick Ave,. everynight, police rushing off to another crime. Why Youngstown City officials think building a fancy building without cleaning the streets of the famous criminal activities in that area,is going to benefit the North Side, beats me. It probly bafffles everyone.

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8Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

I bet Josh Buck could kick himself for throwing the dirt to high to cover his face. lol

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9Millie(192 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Future luxury section 8 housing

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10mlamar(12 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Wow...Revitaliztion....Forty years too late.....But I for one would cherish the opportunity to reinvigorate an historic in town neighborhood. Gotta start somewhere. Growing up, the city did not think enough of this neighborhood, or its residents to even pave the basketball court in this park. So if it rained, it was 1-3 days before we could play again. Even the so called projects had paved courts. I am still scarred, but hey..... Hate to see so many people discouraged about any attempts to jump start a bad situation. I think what has kept the Valley strong is the never quit attitude of the survivors. A groovy new place with verve, to live, shop, and party among like-minded people. Near an ever expanding place of higher learning, whose enrollment numbers are climbing each year. ......Could work...........

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11southsidedave(5117 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

fascinating urban renewal plan, stay tuned...

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