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Youngstown Urban Blight

Posted by LOTGK on November 29, 2007

In the city of Youngstown, an old steel town, there are plenty of abandoned buildings among rubble. This building used to be the Jolly Bar, but now stands vacant. And has for years. The rubble has been cleared away and a parking lot paved for the local bank, Home Savings and Loan located moments away. The Grassy Knoll Institute inquires why the city of Youngstown, Ohio doesn’t understand why business entities don’t want to set up shop here anymore.

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7 Responses to “Youngstown Urban Blight”

  1. Defend Youngstown said

    What kind of absolutely shallow and short-sided observation and comment is this to make regarding Youngstown? Did the Grassy Knoll Institute spend even 30 seconds of research investing the city’s current revitilization plan (Youngstown 2010) which has recieved national and international recognition and acclaim? Let me help you:

    Here’s a list of 26 things alone that could not have been listed 5 yrs ago:

    – National and international recognition of the Youngstown 2010 plan;
    – The beginning of revitalization of the historic Wick Park district by citizens and non-profits;
    – The appointment of our area congressman to the powerful Appropriations Committee and the securing of $10.5 million in his first appropriations bill for technology, medical, and advanced manufacturing initiatives;
    – Establishment of one of the first STEM Colleges in the United States and the creation of the Center for Excellence in Industrial Metrology and 3D Imaging Research (one of only 14 in the nation and managed by Youngstown’s M7 Technologies);
    – Home to current World Middleweight boxing champion Kelly Pavlik;
    – The ongoing revival of the city’s downtown (reopening and makeover of Federal St. and Spring Commons Bridge – over 10 new bars and restaurants – soon-to-be creation of high end apartments and condominiums as well as YSU student housing);
    – Creation of a $250 million progressive urban living community in Smoky Hollow;
    – Demolition of a long-time, high-crime project living area (Westlake Terrace) and replacement with Hope 6 community “Arlington Heights”;
    – Over $2 million allocation for aggressive demolition throughout city (hundreds upon hundreds of residential structures demolished in last 2 years);
    – The creation of professional hockey (Steelhounds) and arena football (Thunder) teams;
    – Examination of both county government structuring as well school consolidation in the 3 county area;
    – Examination of free college tuition initiative for all public school graduates in Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana counties (Youngstown City Schools examining their own free tuition initiative);
    – Expansion of Youngstown State University toward the downtown with creation of a $30 million business college in said area;
    – 2 state football titles (Cardinal Mooney) with possibly 2 more next week (Ursuline and Mooney…first time in Valley history Youngstown area would have 2 in one season);
    – Election of an Independent (first in 70+ years), 34 yr old (youngest), African-American (1st) Mayor;
    – And this Mayor being the recipient of the prestigious National Frontier Award (rather than an indictment);
    – Restoration of the YSU football team to national prominence;
    – Soon-to-be first ever community college for the Valley;
    – Discussion of regional cooperation and consolidation of services (ex. 911);
    – Having the #1 ranked Business Incubator in the state of Ohio;
    – Rapid growth of the Technology front in the downtown area (ex. construction of Taft Technology Center and razing of the Wells and Semple buildings) bringing with it hundreds of well paying jobs with average employee age at 26yrs;
    – Being home to the #1 fastest growing small business software company in the nation (Turning Technologies);
    – Establishment of the state-of-the-art Chevrolet Center and the birth of the DeYor Center;
    – YSU enrollment reaching nearly 10yr high;
    – Finally, the rise of young, intelligent, and passionate citizens organizing to ensure the proper advancement of the city for years to come.

  2. LOTGK said

    And yet, we have countless hundreds of empty burbed out buildings and houses scattered throughout the city.
    Bridges that have been closed for over a decade with no hope of opening.
    Steel mill land and buildings rusting for decades.
    Schools closed with zero hope of reopening.
    Roads that look like the surface of the moon.
    A police force so thinned out and stretched that they cannot cover the city as it should.
    The Steelhounds lost big money last year, that really didn’t help, it hurt.
    You mention a lot of discussion, it’s just talk.
    And still, countless hundreds of house are just waiting to be torched by arsonists.
    And you think the city of Youngstown is looking bright?

    You must be wearing shades.

  3. Anti-christ said

    I have chosen Youngstown as my base of operations in my quest to enslave mankind for all eternity. *Evil maniacal laugh*
    Youngstown will be famous.

  4. Phil Kidd said


    The things you mention are problems of the present which everyone identifies. Most of the things I listed above are things being done to move Youngstown forward.

    1. And yet, we have countless hundreds of empty burbed out buildings and houses scattered throughout the city.
    – The city has quadrupled its demolition budget since the new mayor took office. There has been more structures and houses torn down in the last 2 years that almost the last decade prior to it, combined. This is a large part of the Youngstown 2010 plan of which the new mayor was co-director.

    2. Bridges that have been closed for over a decade with no hope of opening.
    – No hope of reopening? The marshall st. brige was just reopened in the downtown and the Spring Commons Bridge (a.k.a. Mahoning Ave. bridge is currently undergoing a $3 million renovation.

    3. Steel mill land and buildings rusting for decades.
    – Actually, if you investigate, you’ll find that Youngstown’s brownfield research and development, believe it or not, is actually one of the most advanced in the nation. As Although a lot of actual develpment hasn’t been done on these sites, the reasons are complex: everything from urban sprawl dewindling the market and tax base for investment and demolition to dregging of the Mahoning River by the Army Corps of Engineers. However, the Chevrolet Centre, despite it’s initial finicial troubles due to poor management by Global, has been built on the former Republic Steel site and will likely be a major assest to the downtown as the residental towers are fill over the next 2-4yrs.

    4. Schools closed with zero hope of reopening.
    – Huh? As of 2007, the school district was engaged in a process of reconfiguration, consolidating existing schools while building some new ones. District high schools once included Chaney, Rayen, Woodrow Wilson, Youngstown Early College, and Choffin Career and Technical Center. This roster has changed, however. Chaney expanded, while Rayen and Wilson were closed to make way for a newly built East High School. Youngstown City Schools participate in an “Early College” program, in cooperation with Youngstown State University. This program enables high school students to attend classes on campus and earn college credit.

    5. Roads that look like the surface of the moon.
    6. A police force so thinned out and stretched that they cannot cover the city as it should.
    – No arguments on either of these points. However, one must consider that we have a city with a physical infrastructure built for over 150,000 and we 83,000 residents and they are all spread out. If you know anything about the broken windows theory, urban policing strategies, and urban capital improvement fund allocation and/or general public administration, you’d know that being that spread out saps and wastes an enormous amount of resource. Crime prevention is virtuall impossible, especially with limited amount of personel due to sprawl. Still, we could be doing more though the police and city planning department working together to increase community policing stategies, better use of technology (survalience equipment ex. London, Baltimore, Allentown, PA or CitiStat technology), and increased organization from community memebers.

    7. The Steelhounds lost big money last year, that really didn’t help, it hurt.
    – My best friend is the general manager of the Steelhounds. Season ticket sales have increased over the past 2yrs (however, walk up sales could always use improvement). Regardless, I think he would contest your opinion.

    You mention a lot of discussion, it’s just talk.
    And you think the city of Youngstown is looking bright?
    – Yes. In fact, thousands of folks in the know who are now throughougly engaged in Youngstown city affairs do. I can personally vouch for this through the success of the Defend Youngstown movement, of which I am the founder.

    If you really look beyond the obvious problems of the present, attend meetings and talk to offiicals, there are serious things being done about the current state of affairs. I encourage you to get involved. We could use you.

  5. LOTGK said

    Phil, I think my photo speaks volumes. Burned out buildings right on the main drag in the heart of Youngstown’s business district. It’s a shame.

    About the steelhounds, it was said for the team to realize a profit, an average of 4500 tickets per game needed to be sold. They are lucky to get 1500 fans, and I am sure a portion of those tickets are donated.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hope Youngstown turns around and new business opens shop. That they tear down all the vacant eyesore homes and buildings scattered throughout the city, (Just take a ride down Oak Hill and Hillman) and build new housing and business.

    The picture above is the perception of what Youngstown, Ohio is today in many people’s eyes, in the know, or not, it is what it is.

    Thank you for commenting.

  6. Phil Kidd said

    LOTGK, there is no denying urban blight – particularly so in Youngstown – is a major problem regarding crime and attracting business. However, you must understand that it has taken 30yrs of virtual do-nothing politics to get to the degree we have been. You now have a virtual 180degree change of leadership who is aggressively smashing through the old status-quo mentality and is taking action. Reviewing the above websites and list speaks for itself. Readers can come to their own conclusions.

    I would also point out that the photo you are identifying is over 2yrs old and, ironically, is a depiction of the demolition to the Master’s Tuxedo Block, which was cleared to accommodate expanding parking for the creation of the beautiful brand new Ford Recital Hall at Powers Auditorium. The remainder of the lot is also reserved by the CIC for the building of the future City Municipal building. In addition, the Mahoning Valley Historical Society will be relocating to the site in 2008 as well. Finally, the building pictured is scheduled for demolition in the very near future, much to the dismay of local artists who very much want to use it for mural artwork depicting the city’s past and future.

    Bottomline: The point I’m making is there is a vast amount of information and activity going on that I think needs to be included in posts like your to give a informed, fair and balanced perspective. When a single negative example is used to attempt to create an generalized negative opinion to potential readers who may read your post and come away with this being the only impression of Youngstown, this is irresponsible new media journalism. Surely, if one was to examine all of the developments in the last 2 years regarding revitalization of downtown, it would be laughable to come to a conclusion such as your – no offense. It’s just that anyone who lives in the area knows that downtown revitalization is one thing that even the most staunch Ytown critic has little to debate. Now, this certainly isn’t the case in other areas of the city. On this, I would be in strong agreement with you. We have a lot of work to do in a number of neighborhoods.

    Anyways, thank you for you time and letting me post. All the best.

    Phil Kidd

  7. LOTGK said

    Phil, it’s a parking lot for the Home Savings and Loan building. I stated that in my original post.
    I snapped a photo, a burned out rubble strewn building, an eyesore, and asked, would you as a business person come here and set up shop?

    I would think most would say no. I remember when Youngstown actually had retail operation, Higbee’s, Strouss, but they are long gone, and as Bruce Springsteen sang, And they ain’t coming back…..

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