Rehabilitate or lose it: Youngstown launches new blight program

Local News

A Youngstown property that a local activist calls “a monument of blight” could be facing some attention soon from the city.

The Parkway Tower sits empty and in disrepair along Park Avenue. It used to be a luxury complex housing doctors, professionals and professors from YSU. Now, the windows are boarded up and the paint is peeling.

The 8-story, 44-unit residential structure was built in 1929 and is part of the Wick Park Neighborhood.

Phil Kidd is the associate director of Youngstown CityScape. He says the building is an “embarrassment” to Youngstown.

“They are doing the bare minimum in order to simply make money off the cell phone towers,” Kidd said.

Those towers sit on the building’s roof.

In previous disputes, the property owners paid taxes once they were threatened with legal action. But until recently, it was in a blind spot for city enforcement officers.

“It falls off the radar screen when someone starts to pay their taxes, and we think things are going to be rectified,” said Youngstown Law Director Jeff Limbian. “What we’ve been finding over time is those are just stop-gap measures that really never rectify anything long-term.”

Limbian says he’s creating a new commercial property blight program in his office. An attorney will work on problem buildings all over the city, including Parkway Tower.

“We are going to try to work with people to remediate blighted commercial properties. If they don’t do it then we are going to work in eminent domain issues, assessing tax statements and ultimately see if we can have those become city properties,” he said.

Kidd says that would be the best solution for the dilapidated apartment building.

“The alternative is you have an out of town property owner who cares nothing about this community except for making money off cell phone towers,” Kidd said. “It has become a monument of blight, not only for this neighborhood and the greater downtown area but the city of Youngstown at large.”

Right now, the owners are on the hook for about $5,000 in back taxes.

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