The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and a Philadelphia-based consulting firm on Friday outlined the early steps in launching a comprehensive plan to revitalize the U.S. Route 422 corridor that has been considered for years now.
The chamber, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and the Trumbull County Planning Commission are spearheading an effort to remake the corridor, once a hotbed of economic activity before a population exodus and economic decline left it idled and underused.
More than a dozen nonprofit organizations, local governments and businesses helped fund a $150,000 contract with Interface Studio, an urban design and planning firm with experience in launching similar redevelopment plans in cities including Detroit, Rochester, Pittsburgh and Louisville.
The master-plan study is expected to be complete in January, said Scott Page, a principal at Interface, who joined local officials to unveil the first steps.
“We have a good perspective on what cities are looking for in terms of job growth. You have something here that other cities are clamoring for — momentum,” Page said. “There’s real opportunity to look at expanding job growth and improving the quality of life here.”
In the coming months, Interface will gather troves of data, examine land patterns, mobility and infrastructure and have public events for input. The master plan it produces will then be presented to a steering committee, project fundraisers and political leaders so they can use it to implement strategies, find funding sources and develop the best possible economic opportunities and redevelop the most worthwhile properties.
“This is the geographic intersection of Trumbull and Mahoning counties, as well as Youngstown and Girard,” said John Rossi, a local attorney retained by the chamber to help attract a consultant and gather the stakeholders necessary to get the project off the ground. “But it’s also the intersection of past prosperity and present potential.”
The U.S. Route 422 corridor selected for study and redevelopment encompasses 3,500 acres, 220 businesses and 8,500 residents. It stretches from Liberty Street in Girard, down to state Route 193 (Belmont Avenue), over to Meridian Road and across to state Route 711.
The plan will identify opportunities that can be implemented within the first year of its existence as well as those that can be achieved within 10 years or more, Page said.
Talk of redevelopment in the corridor has been building since 2010 when Vallourec Star announced it would construct a pipe mill along the route. Since then, the company has invested more than $1.2 billion on its property. The plan is meant to leverage that success, attract new employers and market an area of Ohio that has close proximity to heavily traveled roads.
Tom Humphries, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer, said if the plan is done right, it could attract private and public money, while also serving as a model for other communities that badly need redevelopment, such as Struthers and Campbell.