By Ed Runyan
The list of 12 projects unveiled this week by a group of public and private Warren advocates has a familiar ring to it because some of the ideas have been discussed in the past.
They include marketing the city, improving the old Robins Theater and renewing the old Packard apartment building on North Park Avenue to its former glory.
But but what may turn out to be different is the conviction that this time the results will be more certain because the people working on the projects will be holding each other and the city accountable.
“This plan should also include a requirement that the responsible parties report in writing to the mayor, the council and the community, at least every quarter to outline progress,” wrote George Piscsalko, planning and zoning coordinator for the nonprofit Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership.
Piscsalko is the head of a Warren economic-development committee that has its roots in the city’s 2009 Strategic Plan.
The Resident Advisory Committee gave Mayor Doug Franklin a copy of the list of projects earlier, and the mayor already has helped assign the city officials and volunteers who will be responsible for carrying them out.
Some work already has been done, Piscsalko said.
For example, one project is to find a buyer for the 5,000-square-foot Saker Mansion at 634 North Park Ave., and the committee has shown it already to a couple of individuals, Piscsalko said.
The home has an in-ground swimming pool and is in surprisingly good condition, he said. It could be apartments or a bed and breakfast.
The Packard apartment building not far south of there, which a Canton contractor bought a couple of years ago, could be 16 luxury apartments, he said. Another project is focused on the area about four blocks long from ValleyCare Trumbull Memorial Hospital west along Market Street to the railroad tracks that could be an Eds and Meds District, meaning educational and medical facilities.
The Riverfront Peninsula area along West Market Street where the Diane Sauer Chevrolet dealership once was includes three pieces of city-owned property that could be exciting townhouses and cafes with access to the canoeing and other riverfront activities, he said.
The committee also thinks the river has potential for “river condos” on Mahoning Avenue near Summit Street, where a Best Value Inn and restaurant are located but not being fully utilized.
There is a river walk there now, but it could be extended to the west side of the river near the cleaned-up Mahoningside property, the committee said.
The committee is proposing a Farmer’s Market for Courthouse Square on Fridays during the Noon In The Park performances to take advantage of the upcoming walkway to be built downtown that will link the Franklin Street Parking Deck to Courthouse Square.
Retired marketing executive Dennis Blank and Warren Data Processing Manager Jim Black are in charge of the marketing campaign, which will let potential investors know through Internet and printed materials of the incentives the city can offer.
Some of that work already is done, Piscsalko said.
Piscsalko is assigned the Saker project, while TNP’s director, Matt Martin, will be handling the farmer’s market.
“It creates a good accountability process,” Piscsalko said of individuals being assigned to each project.