YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Since 2014, the City of Youngstown has made a concerted effort to get rid of abandoned properties and the numbers show the situation is getting better.
That year, there were 4,095 vacant structures in Youngstown. As of today, there were 1,841 — that’s a decrease of 55% in six years.
So far this year, 451 structures have been demolished, which is down from 646 last year.
Mike Durkin, who runs Youngstown’s demolition program, showed us adjacent properties on Lexington Avenue near St. Elizabeth Hospital. One was demolished last week and one should have been demolished — if not for the 300 tires found inside.
“That’s why there’s a hole in the side of the house,” Durkin said. “We had to empty it of all the tires and everything first.”
When asked how the city’s demolition program was going, he said, in his opinion, it’s going really well. But with 1,800 vacant structures remaining, work still needs to be done.
Over the next year, Durkin would like to see a building at the corner of Market and Indianola demolished, along with the old McDonald’s on Mahoning Avenue.
“What we’re going to try to do — the mayor’s wishes — is try to attack many of our main corridors and a lot of our opportunity zones,” he said.
Then there are several vacant schools, like Adams School at the corner of Indianola and Cooper. They all need to come down but it won’t happen anytime soon because of the cost.
Demolishing a school could be $500,000 compared to $9,000 for a vacant house.
“Those are well-built buildings,” Durkin said. “Those, you just don’t tear down with a simple excavator. They do require a lot of money to get those down.”
On Lexington, Diane Williams and her son, Edrick Davis, are two people who will benefit most from the house being torn down and the one to come.
“We were just afraid that the house was going to catch on fire, drug activities, you name it,” Williams said.
“A lot of demolition that needs to be done. Two next to my house, like you said, two down the street, some on the south side. There’s a lot of vacant houses around here,” Davis said.
Durkin said there are two kinds of demolitions. Twenty-five percent are the emergency kind, initiated by the fire chief, that must be done now. The majority are contract demolitions, which can take up to nine months to complete.