Journal Opinion: Embracing Obstacles

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – There are a couple of options to address situations that are, shall we say, less than optimal. One is to complain about the unfortunate circumstance. Another is to embrace it. 

That’s clearly the approach Youngstown CityScape took as it planned for its 26th annual Streetscape June 3. This year’s theme, “Under Construction and Growing,” playfully acknowledges the ongoing – and often frustrating – $27.65 million downtown street project.

We remain confident that what is known as the Smart2 Network will greatly improve the downtown, frustrating as navigating the torn-up and closed streets is for downtown businesses, their employees and visitors.

“Our businesses are still downtown,” Sharon Letson, CityScape executive director, said in announcing Streetscape 2023. “They still need us to support them. So it’s really a way for us to set the stage and encourage people to come to Youngstown as [their] summer’s destination.” 

Another way downtown is being showcased was the launch May 5 of First Friday, which also will take place on the first Fridays of June and July.

Meantime, as we reported in our May edition, Bar Vina, a new restaurant, will open next month in the Erie Terminal Building in the space formerly occupied by The Kitchen Post.

And as you’ll read on page 18 of this edition, GreenHeart Companies recently marked the renovation of the Gallagher Building, repurposed to provide apartments for graduate students and young professionals. This building, constructed in 1904, had been vacant since the closing of Cedar’s Lounge in 2013 to accommodate a development project that never came to fruition under a previous owner. Another would-be project by a successive owner also failed to take place. 

In the next few weeks, Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology, will launch Phase 4 of its renovation project. The museum, which purchased the former McCrory Building in late 2019, intends to add more community education spaces on the second and third floors and redesign the two lower levels.

Its new initiative, Ready, Set, Go: Co-Lab, aims to infuse six of the fastest growing STEM fields – biotechnology, smart mobility, energy, engineering, computer science and advanced manufacturing – into its programs.

All of this activity builds on the progress made over the past couple of decades with the creation of the downtown entertainment district, the growth in hospitality and entertainment venues that followed and the increase in downtown’s residential population.

This year’s Streetscape theme is a fitting reflection not only of CityScape’s ongoing efforts but of the progress being made throughout downtown.

But forgive us for hoping that “Still Under Construction” won’t become a theme suitable for Streetscape 2024.