By Danny Restivo
Several local agencies are combining efforts to revitalize an industrial corridor.
The Trumbull County Planning Commission, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber are working with city officials to study growth potential along U.S. Route 422 between Girard and Youngstown.
“We want to create an economic gateway off Interstate 80 that will complement V&M,” said Tom Humphries, CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. “We want to see other capital investments and other capital businesses.”
The chamber, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and the Trumbull County Planning Commission have been charged with administering an economic study.
The area has experienced significant growth since V&M Star recently completed its $1.1 billion pipe-making facility. The company produced its first steel pipe from the new facility in October.
A U.S. Route 422 Redevelopment Plan by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and the planning commission characterized the area as a “largely industrial landscape adjacent to distressed neighborhoods with vacant lots, blighted housing and high rates of poverty.” The 422 corridor between Girard and Youngstown traditionally has been an area of industry and manufacturing, the plan said.
Officials said they are in discussions with Interface Studio LLC, a full-service planning and urban-design practice based in Philadelphia, about doing a study of the corridor area. Humphries said a contract with Interface Studio has not been finalized but he’s hoping a contract can be signed and the study begins in November.
Eight agencies already have donated $112,500 for the study, including $25,000 from Youngstown and $20,000 from Girard.
Girard Mayor James Melfi said the city has taken great strides in improving the area, including a U.S. 422 widening project near Interstate 80 and an I-80 bridge-improvement project that runs over Route 422.
Melfi said the city’s proximity to the interstate and V&M Star makes it a prime area for economic growth and he’s curious to see what the study reveals.
“What I’m looking for is guidance and how parcels of land can be put together to complement V&M and other oil and gas businesses that might want to come to the area,” Melfi said.
Humphries said he’s hoping to attract the same type of businesses.
“We think there will be interest from businesses in the oil and gas industry at large,” said Humphries.
According to the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. Redevelopment Plan, the study boundaries are Liberty Street in Girard to the Madison Avenue Expressway in Youngstown, and Meridian Road to Wirt Street and the 711 Connector.
“The focus of the study area is on the properties having frontage along U.S. Route 422 and adjacent residential neighborhoods,” the plan said. It also will look at land use, zoning, housing stock, environmental and corridor resources, as well as transportation.
In a January interview with The Vindicator, Joel Mastervich, V&M Star president and chief operating officer, said the company was committed to helping the area grow. A V&M spokesman said the company had pledged $11,500 for beautification efforts along the road.
Mastervich said projects such as this are important because people from all over the world travel to see the new state-of-the-art pipe-rolling facility.
“When people see blight, it’s a big deterrent,” he said. “People come from all over and they look around, and the impression we want them to take away is very important to the area.”
Vallourec, the parent company of V&M, is a French-based company that has 51 production mills in 20 countries, according to its website.
Humphries believes tapping into V&M’s resources would create a positive result for the surrounding area.
“A billion dollars has just been invested in that area,” said Humphries. “There is plenty of growth potential in that market.”