City Funds Improvements, Demolition Along South Ave.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Board of Control approved funds for two South Avenue projects Thursday: a façade renovation and the demolition of a long-blighted property along the corridor, the former Krakusy Hall.

The façade renovation agreement for Ursuline Center’s Merici Housing will provide a grant of up to $6,070 for work at 3314 South Ave., where Merici will manage housing cases for its clients, said Brigid Kennedy, co-executive director of the center.

Work includes repairing a portico, installing new doors, a light pole and sign, landscaping and painting, said Tom DeAngelo, economic development coordinator for the city. The cost for the façade work is estimated at $15,177.

The project is expected to create five part-time jobs.

“It’s one thing to talk about demolition, and it’s an important issue,” Kennedy said. “But you also have to talk about rebuilding. You have to talk about renovating. You have talk about taking existing structures and repurposing them,” she continued. “This is a neighborhood that has potential but you have to put some investment in it.”

With the grant funds approved, Kennedy said work should begin next week on the façade. Most of the interior work is complete. “So by the end of October we hope to be fully up and running,” she said.

Additionally, the organization will make space for use by other community groups including the South Avenue Area Neighborhood Development Initiative, block watches and Alcoholics Anonymous, she said.

The Ursuline Center also owns property adjacent to the 3314 South Ave. building, which the center intends to renovate as congregate low-income housing, she said. It recently tore down a building it owned at South and East Auburndale avenues, where it plans to develop a four-unit apartment building.

The Board of Control also approved a contract with ProQuality Excavating, Campbell, to demolish the former Krakusy Hall, 2205 South Ave. ProQuality was selected from seven companies that submitted bids.

The hall, closed several years ago, was among the properties in a real estate scam perpetrated by Ondrea Shabazz of Youngstown, said Abigail Beniston, city code enforcement and blight remediation superintendent.

Shabazz was convicted last year on federal charges of real estate fraud, identification fraud and mail fraud.

“We’re going to demolish [the building] and assess the costs of demolition,” Beniston said. More than likely the city will foreclose on the property and it will end up in the land bank.

Acting on the property was essential because of the city’s emphasis on cleaning up the South Avenue corridor, she said.

The building has been in a “state of disrepair for years,” Mayor John McNally said. “We needed to do something with that structure.”

McNally, chairman of the Board of Control, said he is pleased that Youngstown could help with the Ursuline Center project. “They’re doing a lot of good work to clean up their little section of South Avenue,” he remarked.

The board approved a $48,275 contract for asbestos abatement of 16 properties in the Taft Elementary School neighborhood near South Avenue, he pointed out, and funds to be raised by a proposed increase in residential sanitation fees will be targeted for demolition. These include properties on South Avenue from Midlothian Boulevard moving north.

“Aesthetically, South Avenue, Wick Avenue and Logan Avenue are the areas that need the most cleaning up,” McNally said.

By this time next year, he hopes that South Avenue from Williamson Avenue to Midlothian Boulevard will be repaved with upgraded traffic signals.

The neighborhood was a focus during the recent United Way Day of Caring and last week community police swept part of the corridor.

“Most of our day-to-day crime challenges are sort of in that higher end of the South Avenue corridor between Midlothian and Indianola,” he said, “so we’re going to continue to focus on that area through a variety of different means.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.