YNDC buys Foster theater, will shut it down
Foster theater to be shuttered
YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. purchased the Foster Art Theatre primarily to close the pornographic movie venue.
“Our purpose was to remove the XXX theater along the Glenwood (Avenue) corridor,” said Tiffany Sokol, YNDC’s housing director. “We wanted it gone. We also want to preserve the structure. We don’t have a specific plan yet, but it’s our goal to repurpose the building.”
YNDC purchased the theater at 2504 Glenwood Ave. from Dee Barber, the owner since 1994, for $99,999, she said.
The theater was built in 1938 and showed mainstream films for years. The theater, with about 800 seats, began showing art house films in the 1960s and then switched to pornographic movies in the 1970s. In recent years, it also sold XXX videos.
The Foster has been closed since mid-March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced all movie theaters to shut down and it never reopened, Sokol said.
“The neighborhoods have wanted for decades to have a better use for the Foster Theatre,” she said.
Councilwoman Lauren McNally, D-5th Ward, who represents that section of Glenwood Avenue, said: “I was excited to find out YNDC bought it. To clean it up and clean it out so it can be put into use as a productive part of the community is exciting.”
Buying the theater is part of the YNDC’s ongoing plan to improve the Glenwood Avenue corridor, Sokol said.
“There are so many neighborhoods surrounding the Glenwood corridor,” she said. “It’s densely populated. We’re having a substantial impact on residents in the corridor. Each of these projects are a small piece of the bigger picture of improving the quality of life in the neighborhoods of Youngstown.”
It purchased a vacant strip plaza at 2915 Glenwood Ave. earlier this year for $175,000.
The brightly-colored building was last used about five years ago with tenants including a day care facility and a restaurant. It was damaged in a fire in 2016.
YNDC has been raising money to renovate the building, receiving a $100,000 grant from the Finance Fund last month.
The agency will start renovating the property “fairly soon,” Sokol said.
YNDC wants to use the strip plaza to offer space to businesses, particularly minority owned, that can offer serves to the nearby residents, she said.
Also on the agenda for today’s Youngstown council meeting is an agreement for the city to purchase 900 Old Furnace Road for $1 from Mill Creek MetroParks and transfer ownership to YNDC.
The property served as the home of the Mill Creek superintendent until about 20 years ago.
The park has used it for storage and office space in the past, Sokol said.
“The plan is to renovate the property,” she said. “We’re still looking to see the best use. We want to do right by the community and we’re taking our time with the property. The plan is preservation. We want to save and improve it.”
YNDC is a citywide neighborhood planning and development organization that provides housing and neighborhood stabilization services in Youngstown.