YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The renaissance of downtown Youngstown, how it fell apart and was put back together again, has been well documented.
Recently, the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corporation put together a pictorial presentation comparing downtown at is low point with where it is today.The offices of the Community Improvement Corporation are in the George Voinovich Building, overlooking the Museum of Industry and Labor and St. Columba Cathedral. Formed in 1988, the CIC promotes downtown Youngstown.
Regional Chamber of Commerce President Tom Humphries oversees the corporation and credits its start to former Youngstown Mayor Pat Ungaro.
“So he started taking those buildings that were boarded up, or roofs falling in, he took those properties and he put them in a portfolio,” Humphries said.
That portfolio started with 80 parcels and 50 buildings, all but one of which have been dealt with. To tout its accomplishments, the CIC compiled before and after pictures and showed off the presentation.
The old McKelvey’s block is now occupied by the Voinovich Building and Mahoning County Children’s Services. Then there is the back of five buildings on West Federal Street, the front of which later became the 7th District Court of Appeals.
Half of another rundown parcel is now occupied by the Draught House. And Stone’s Grille later became the First Educator’s Investment Corporation. What was once McCrory’s department store later became the Oh Wow! Children’s Center for Science and Technology.
Several store fronts on West Federal Street would be cleared to become the Taft Technology Center. And the Semple Building next door was refurbished to become part of the Youngstown Business Incubator.
Some lots were expanded for parking, such as behind Powers Auditorium. And what used to be a parking lot next to Powers became the Ford Family Recital Hall.
Of those original 80 parcels and 50 buildings, only one remains. It is now known as the hole, where the old State Theater once stood. Everything else has been dealt with.
“That is outstanding. I don’t know another community that has moved as aggressively as this community has,” Humphries said.
Even though the CIC was formed 27 years ago, most of the work downtown has taken place just within the past 12 years. It took a long time to get organized, but once the redevelopment started, it moved along quickly.