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Adorning Idora: Block now a model of success

Published: Tue, November 27, 2012 @ 12:09 a.m.

Development corporation focuses on renovating Lanterman Avenue homes


Mike Sackela replaces siding after blowing insulation into a wall during renovations at 867 Lanterman Ave., the last house being rehabilitated in the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.’s Lanterman Model Block project in the Idora Neighborhood.

By Peter H. Milliken



The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. wants to showcase a model block in a historic South Side neighborhood.

In a concentrated neighborhood improvement strategy, it now is renovating the last of a series of homes in its Lanterman Model Block project on Lanterman Avenue in Youngstown’s Idora Neighborhood.

Over the past 21/2 years, the nonprofit corporation has spent about $500,000 on demolitions of two houses and on renovations or repairs to 11 single-family dwellings on the one-block street.

That street is in the shadows of Mill Creek Park’s restored 1845 vintage Lanterman’s Mill at Lanterman’s Falls.

Seven of those dwellings were vacant houses bought and fully rehabilitated by YNDC.

“We wanted to start our rehab efforts on streets that had issues but also had potential and where we could be successful,” said Ian Beniston, deputy director of the local urban development organization.

“If you take a strategic and a planned approach to this type of housing work, you can actually make an impact,” he observed.

“It’s very close to Mill Creek Park and Lanterman’s Mill. It’s a marketable area. It wasn’t too far gone in terms of [housing] vacancy rates,” Dominic Marchionda, YNDC’s housing program coordinator, said of Lanterman Avenue.

The corporation’s effort is being paid for by federal funds obtained through the city’s Community Development Agency and by contributions from the Raymond John Wean Foundation, Home Savings and PNC, Chase and Huntington banks.

Renovations on the last of the homes, a vacant former rental property at 867 Lanterman Ave., began two weeks ago and will be completed about a month from now.

Mahoning County Auditor’s Office records show that YNDC bought the six-room, two-story, 1926 vintage, single-family house from an out-of-town landlord for $9,500 in September.

YNDC expects to spend about $90,000 to renovate the house, including giving it a new roof, a new high-efficiency electric furnace, insulation, new energy-efficient windows, all new doors, new plumbing fixtures and kitchen cabinets, refinished yellow pine floors, a waterproofed basement, restored siding, exterior painting, a new garage and a repaved driveway and sidewalk.

“Basically, what we’re doing to this house is making it a brand-new house again. ... If you put it in that context, $90,000 is actually much cheaper than it would cost to build a house of this quality,” Beniston said. “This house will last another 80 years when we get done with it.”

“We try to make these homes as sustainable as possible in terms of energy use” and keep their utility bills affordable for their residents, Beniston said.

“I live in Youngstown. I grew up here. These homes have been going downhill. It’s nice to see them built back up,” said John Potkay, foreman with the renovation contractor, American Pinnacle Construction Co. of Youngstown.

“Neighbors get involved, too, and they want to fix up their own homes. It kind of helps the whole block out” when YNDC renovates homes, he said.

YNDC favors city-based and minority-owned contractors to perform the work, Beniston said.

Once the renovations are complete, YNDC plans to sell 867 Lanterman for about $40,000, Beniston said.

“They’re all single-family dwellings, and they’re all sold for homeownership. We don’t do rental properties at this point. We do have a homeownership training program” and mortgage loan fund for the potential homeowners, he said.

Beniston said the investment is worthwhile in an effort to stabilize the neighborhood around the former Idora Park, an amusement park that operated from 1899 and 1984.

Another aspect of the model block is a landscaped lot with a split-rail fence around it at Lanterman and Billingsgate avenues, where YNDC demolished two dilapidated and vacant houses.

The model block is adjacent to YNDC’s Iron Roots Urban Farm at 820 Canfield Road, which trains city residents in agriculture while growing produce for sale in local farmers markets.

The urban development organization would like to restore a tree-lined center island to Billingsgate Avenue, which was once the main entrance from Canfield Road to Idora Park, and redevelop the 30-acre former amusement-park site.


1elmendorf87(3 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

LOL...you gotta love the comment from "UticaShale". This person is a very typical "Sarah-Palin-Tea Party-Only Care About The 47% - Senile Clint Eastwood Empty Chair Talkin' - Mitt Romney Loser". Please spare the B.S. about what is sinking America. Remember...Ronald "I'm Losing My Mind Reagan" is the idiot that started sinking America!!!!!

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2nanana(15 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

The negativity is not desirable. If we keep a lid on this unsubstantiated information it will be as if it never happened.

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3redeye1(5539 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

UticaShale This is how this county & city operates, waste other people moneies on useless projects like this to make themselves look good. I give this area two maybe three years before its back to where it was. When people get stuff for free or next to free they don't take care of it. Just take a look around at the various housing projects for the welfare rats. Already they are starting to look run down. enough said! `.

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4redeye1(5539 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Is any body wondering Why the federal Gov't is broke. Its deals like this to help the entitlement crew. But if this is how the city runs its business too. You can now see, why they also don't have any money.

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5mudduck(31 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

LOL...you gotta love the ignorance that elmendorf87 has. This is not about politics its simple math. Would you buy something for $9k then spend $90K to sell for $40K. What a bunch of idiots. I don't care if it beautifies this dump or not that makes NO sense but with a "wo is me" attitude like you bashing what others point out as true no wonder the area is in the shape it is in. .... that is a waste of $59K!!! what a joke.

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6city_resident(528 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

On average, YNDC has spent about $45k per house, according to the article. (2 demos +/- $5k ea., leaving $490k to renovate the 11 houses) But that doesn't mean that they didn't spend $10k on some, and $80k on others. In the end, they still break even, the neighborhood remains intact, and become more desirable. What's the problem?

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7brownies4545(1 comment)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

@mudduck- If you are capable, which it doesn't appear to be so, look past the numbers. You are restoring neighborhoods that are near assets. Re-Read the article. The approach that this development group is strategic. Not just "sinking money" as @Utica put it. These neighborhoods can and will come back if there a strategic plan is implemented and executed. The math does work, because of the subsidy. The article states that is the only way it does work. Read the article and digest it. Put your personal economic and political beliefs aside, and take the time to read and understand that if you don't start saving the neighborhoods that still do have a chance, the plague of chronic abandonment that has devastated this area for 30 years will keep spreading, and likely as far into the neighborhoods you might live in.

zz3@ more desirable doesn't sound like a stretch. It is more desirable than what it was. If you knew what it was, then maybe you wouldn't have such an ignorant outlook as your counterparts I've already mentioned.

Be a part of the solution people, not another part of the evident problem.

When you have something negative to say about a certain effort, try to come up with a better solution before jumping the gun...in all seriousness- maybe you have a better idea that this town could sure use.

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8mudduck(31 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

@brownies.. ok here is a solution use the money to tear down the junk that is around the Idora area. Just because honesty isn't what is "hip" in your world makes everyone else a nay sayer or "problem. or being negative. The effort is frutile. The area is too long gone. Yes everyone is waiting in lines to buy the referb house next to what? the fosters? the deserted park inn? the crack houses? oh yea there is a new bottom dollar. wow now thats a reason to throw good money after bad. You can call all the "realist" negative problems but the problem is past saving. Get over your history and move on. Use the money to save areas that still can be saved.

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9Cancer0723(4 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Negativity is never desirable-however touched a nerve either way

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10redeye1(5539 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

@brownie What assets are near to this neighborhood? Mill Creek park where people are afraid to walk in the evening. Come on now this neigborhood is GONE its time to face it!! They could use this money to do something besides helping certain people keep their jobs. How much is Marchionda pocketing from this adventure? Any one know?

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11city_resident(528 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

@mudduck, who made you the arbiter of what's "too long gone?" Obviously, many of the people living in the neighborhood, the people renovating the houses, and the people buying the renovated houses disagree with you.

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12candyo65(6 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm so glad to hear that they are restoring some Y-town neighborhoods. My cousin lived on Lanterman growing up and it was a great street, nestled between Idora Park and Mill Creek..It would be a great place for hipsters to move...low property taxes, a short walk to the Mill. I own a house in Handel's neighborhood..the people are great, they love where they live..people need to stop being afraid of the city and take it back..no room for naysayers!

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13Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

""YNDC favors city-based and minority-owned contractors to perform the work, Beniston said. """

Love what there doing to the area, but is this fair to all the other contractors looking for work? I can understand looking for city based contractors, but minority owned? Sounds like discrimination to me.

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