Youngstown Event Center Revamps South Side Church

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – For as long as he can remember, HaSheen Wilson has been focused on improving his community. It was with that in mind that he converted a former church into the Youngstown Event Center.

“Oftentimes people feel as though they have to go to these suburbs in order to have that experience,” said the owner of the new event space, 12 E. Dewey Ave. “I believe, as far as taking a bold step, in saying we can have that experience right here in our own city.” 

The grand opening of the event center takes place today.

Wilson bought the church last year for $71,000, after the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness decided to move to a new site on 4 Mile Run Road. 

“I stepped out in faith,” he said. “I always say that whatever you go into, there needs to be a grace for you to do that. It’s amazing how when God directs your steps and this is what landed us at the Youngstown Event Center.” 

Events can be booked by visiting Bookings have been made through March, Wilson said, including a Thanksgiving dinner, birthday parties and board meetings. 

The event center is something new and vibrant that will create a “wow” experience, said Paula Wilson, HaSheen’s wife and the center’s experience consultant. She will be an “extra helping hand,” welcome guests and clients, and answer any questions they may have, she said. 

“I see a need for it because we need a location with multiple things going on inside one building,” she said. “It’s going to impact the city. People are going to be drawn to it because of the location, because the downtown is building up, so people are going to come both ways.” 

Over the past year, HaSheen Wilson took the time to find out what he wanted to use the space for, he said. Initially, since he owns Crawling to Destiny Daycare PreSchool Learning Center, Wilson thought about expanding his preschool into the former church, but eventually settled on turning it into a multipurpose building.

“I was thinking how can it be a bigger space to connect people,” he said. 

The church staff did a great job of taking care of and updating the space, so only cosmetic changes were made, Wilson said. 

The event center seats 200 and will employ between five to 10 during events, Wilson said. By creating a multipurpose facility, targeting the business community is a goal as well as having the space available for networking events, birthday parties, weddings and rehearsals, he added. 

In addition, there are multiple rooms within the event center such as an executive conference room for businesses to use and a lower level room for smaller gatherings. 

“It truly is a multipurpose space as far as whoever wants to create that exclusive, VIP experience for their guests,” Wilson said. 

The center also has secure parking around the entire building, which Wilson found attractive, he said.

“The gate opens up and it gives ease of access for parking and parking is a big deal,” Wilson said. “I’m fully aware of people’s perception of the city in a sense of safety, and I believe that by having a venue that is safe and secure, we can start overcoming that stigma.” 

Wilson, a native of East Liverpool, graduated from Youngstown State University. As both an outsider and a long-time resident, Wilson has seen the love people have for Youngstown, he said. 

“I would hear stories about Youngstown in its heyday and I feel that now is a great opportunity,” Wilson said. “With the revitalization downtown and this location three minutes from downtown, it is a nice extension. I can’t wait for the community to see it and be a part of it.” 

Pictured: HaSheen Wilson bought the former Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness last year and has converted it into an event center.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.