Study Will Lead to Roadmap for Crab Creek Corridor

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A comprehensive district redevelopment plan focused on the city’s Crab Creek corridor should be completed by spring, a Harvard Bloomberg City Hall Fellow working for the city said.

The city will release findings from a study of the industrial corridor during a community meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County’s East Library. The study was funded by an $80,000 U.S. Economic Development Administration grant.

The purpose of the EDA-funded study above all else was to assess economic opportunities in the area, said Taylor Jones, the Bloomberg Harvard fellow serving as community projects manager for the city.

“This is a neighborhood that has historically had more of an industrial fabric,” Jones said. “There has been some systemic disinvestment and some challenges, so that industrial core is no longer there. So how do you build up the residential strength while also creating clear buffers for residential?”

Completion of the plan is “a bit of a moving target, but I would say definitely sometime in the spring,” she said. Among other purposes, it will serve as a roadmap for where to make strategic investments.

“The intent is to define what we can control and how we can make a difference in our entire community,” said Bob Messaros, CEO of Commercial Metal Forming.

Commercial Metal Forming, which has been at its Logan Avenue location since 1920, was among the 10 businesses contacted as part of the study. Issues that Messaros expressed concerns about include safety and aesthetics of the corridor area.

“How do you attract talent to work at companies” when an area becomes “such a poor environment,” he said. People “want to feel good about” the place where they go to work.

“We’d like to see more economic development throughout the city, but specifically in this part of the city,” said Mark Peters, director of engineering at Fireline Inc. The company’s needs are “pretty well met,” and the section of Andrews Avenue where it is located is “pretty well developed,” with few vacancies.

Issues he recalled discussing included safety, traffic and transportation, including the possibility of increasing freeway access to the area.

He also is concerned about the issue of speeders on Andrews Avenue, where Fireline is located. “There are still issues with [all-terrain vehicle] and dirt bike riders driving on the city streets when they’re not supposed to be,” he said. 

Much of the study’s focus is on growth trend analysis, not just from organic growth that is expected to happen in the city but “the sort of growth that the city can expect to see if manufacturing opportunities and operations are rebuilt or other sort of industrial development occur,” Jones said.

Additionally, attention is paid to street pattern reconfigurations to determine how “the built environment supports or disincentivizes people from viewing this corridor as friendly to business, and what can be done about that,” she said. Another part of the conversation involves addressing stormwater and drainage infrastructure to create “a community asset” using the creek and nearby parks and recreational spaces.    

After Tuesday’s meeting and the city solicits community feedback on what has been presented, the consultant will prepare the district redevelopment plan, which will serve as “a launchpad” for other development activity, she said. The city also will launch a landing page on its website for the public to interact with the project as it evolves.

Other steps taking place in conjunction with the study include “working on site readiness and making sure that we have as many like parcels that are assembled, fully remediated and ready to go to market and be pitched to a developer,” she said.

Pictured at top: The Fireline Inc. building, located on Andrews Avenue. Fireline was one of the businesses contacted as part of the study.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.