Economic Development

Partners Look to Redo Site for Boys & Girls Club

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – More than a year ago, Community Corrections Association identified the vacant building at 2126 Market St. – the former Red and White Market – as a prime target for redevelopment.

Thanks to the work of several community partners, today that property is well on its way to being repurposed as a recreational center for the Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown, part of an overall revitalization effort along one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares.

“A little over a year ago, CCA identified this as another property to acquire and revitalize, similar to other properties we’ve done along Market Street, “ said David Stillwagon, CCA’s chief executive officer.

Simultaneously, the city of Youngstown had the building on its radar screen as one that should be razed and the lot redeveloped. “This was a building that I had talked to our staff about getting removed,” said Mayor John McNally.

And, since the property fronts a larger lot where the Boys & Girls Club stands, it only made sense to figure out how the land could meet that organization’s needs through working with other community partners.

Aside from the city and CCA, organizations such as Youngstown CityScape, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., the Oakhill Collaborative and Potential Development all have an interest in contributing to this effort, said Germaine McAlpine, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club. “We’ve talked to tons of people about getting them involved in this because they see how great a project this could be for the community,” he said.

On Thursday, city excavation and demolition crews were at the site cleaning up what remained of the building, now reduced to piles of rubble. McNally, Stillwagon and McAlpine spoke to reporters there and outlined their plans for the project.

CCA recently acquired the acre and-a-half site, which is bordered in the back by an eight-foot retaining wall and a chain-link fence dividing the lot from the Boys & Girls Club’s property. Once the debris is removed and the site cleared, work would begin next month on removing the wall and fence, and grading the slope toward the club.

“We’re looking at some type of long-term project in phases,” McAlpine said. This includes basketball courts, walking trails, multipurpose fields and other recreational uses. “It’s still in the planning phases,” he said. A portion of the development site also could be set aside for public use.

He said that the organization plans to kick off a capital campaign to raise money for the project.

Meanwhile, CCA will landscape the property in much the same fashion as it has other lots along Market Street, Stillwagon said. “We’ll landscape in the springtime,” he said.

However, gesturing to an old sign that says “Kyle Park” still affixed to the chain fence, Stillwagon noted that the ultimate goal is to help bring that back to life.

McNally said employees of the city’s street department have been working at the site over the last three days performing demolition work, while the asbestos removal was completed earlier through CCA. In all, the city’s in-kind contribution to the project is about $17,000 when factoring in time and equipment.

McNally said that this project fits with the city’s overall objective of working with neighborhood partners to remove blighted structures from some of the major commercial arteries.

“We certainly look forward to contributing to further cleanup of this area,” he said, noting there are several apartment buildings further south that he said should be razed in the future. “Then, we can begin that march into the Uptown area as well,” he said.

Pictured: David Stillwagon of Community Corrections Association, Mayor John McNally and Germaine McAlpine, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.