City to Make 300 Acres Ready for Redevelopment

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Youngstown officials are preparing to rezone some 300 acres of property through the city for potential redevelopment.

The six swaths of developed and undeveloped land are recommended as “future green industrial development sites” under the Youngstown 2010 comprehensive plan. City Council will consider an ordinance Wednesday authorizing the Board of Control to hire a firm to do slum and blight analysis of the properties.

The sections of the city to be analyzed are 64 acres along the Wick Avenue corridor known as the “Wick Six” area, for which the city recently approved environmental reviews; 97 acres along U.S. Route 422, near Vallourec Star; 39 acres adjacent to the Salt Springs Industrial Park; 32 acres near Market Street; near 53 acres along Poland Avenue; and 38 acres around Oak Street.

The purpose of the analysis is to look at the conditions of the areas allowing the city “to potentially use them as urban renewal areas,” said William D’Avignon, Community Development Agency director.

“Currently they are not zoned industrial so we are probably going to propose after this analysis is done to get them rezoned,” he said. In addition, the analysis will look at whether the properties meet the criteria to be declared as urban renewal areas. That designation would potentially allow the city to seek funding for implementing the plan and use eminent domain to acquire properties.

“The idea of the study is to start to prepare for future investment,” said T. Sharon Woodberry, director of community planning and economic development for the city. The Youngstown 2010 plan identified areas that based on location “made sense” to zone as industrial, she said.

“There were areas that we felt potentially could add onto the existing industrial developments that had good freeway access or good access, period,” D’Avignon added.

Industrial green is “lighter scale manufacturing,” not “heavy manufacturing,” Woodberry said. “There is an appreciation now” for taking environmental issues into consideration when investments are made, such as establishing buffers and including landscaping, setbacks and “things of that nature that we like to see tied into the manufacturing sites,” she said.

“This is something that is going to need to be marketed by the city in order for that interest in investment to happen,’ Woodberry added.

Through the analysis, the city will determine whether the properties meet the statutory requirements to be considered blighted, D’Avignon said. Those requirements include tax delinquency and whether an area meets the requirements for redevelopment as currently zoned.

Many of the properties are now zoned residential with some commercial “but probably are not utilized much,” he said.

The city already has moved forward with environmental assessments on properties it owns in one of the areas to be studied. Last week, the Board of Control approved Phase I and Phase II environmental work at some of the abandoned Wick Avenue car dealership properties it owns.

“That’s probably the first area that I think we can see development happening soon,” Woodberry said. “It’s a primary corridor connecting the North Side and downtown, highly visible, and the city owns a number of properties there. So it makes sense for us to try to make sure not only that it’s zoned appropriately but to try to acquire land and to begin to market it and develop it.”

Pictured: Among the sections of the city to be analyzed are 64 acres along the Wick Avenue corridor once known as the “Wick Six” cluster of auto dealerships.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.